Friday, 27 April 2012 12:11 PM
Slogans are a useful way of remembering organisations.
For instance, hearing the phrase ‘time well spent’ makes me think of the National Trust while ‘the car in front’ pushes Toyota into your mind. Car manufacturers do love these phrases: BMW ‘the ultimate driving machine’ and Peugeot ‘the drive of your life’, for example. In fact life plays an important part in such slogans as Volvo has chosen to also embrace it with ‘Volvo. for life’.
Driving the Volvo V60 D3 Ocean Race estate certainly does handle all aspects of life whether it be the arduous motorway commute, trips to the tip or much more enjoyable family times.
As you might expect safety is at the forefront of this vehicle. There’s the Blis (blind spot) safety alert on the wing mirrors that’s unavailable on most cars. This is triggered when the Volvo travels at a reasonable speed and there is a hidden car that might have escaped the driver’s attention. Dash past in the outside lane and it rarely notices other vehicles on its left though unless they are high sided lorries.
If an obstacle appears that the car doesn’t expect, a red light on the dash in front of the driver flashes to the accompaniment of a blaring siren, which is utterly frightening and I feel uncalled for. Where I live there are some traffic lights on a right hand bend and as you travel past, the Volvo’s radar senses them and all hell breaks loose. Thank goodness no passengers of a sensitive disposition were travelling with me on that occasion. The same can happen if a car pushes its way in front of the Volvo, which has greater value.
Refreshingly cruise control doesn’t cancel out when changing gear as is usually the way in most other cars.
Volvo claims that up to 90 per cent of accidents are caused by distraction and that half of all drivers hitting a car from behind do not brake at all. To combat this, the V60 is equipped with a useful function that measures the distance of the car in front keeping the Swede a safe distance behind.
The gap can be increased or decreased by the driver. This works especially well for motorway cruising, automatically and smoothly braking and accelerating as required. However, this function does cancel out at speeds under 20 mph or so as it is linked to the cruise control. This really could do with improving because accidents do occur while driving at low speeds, too.
I can see how this function could be used to prevent many low speed collisions if only it worked at such speeds. In torrential rain the radar gets blocked cancelling out the cruise control.
A well-insulated cabin ensures that there is only a hint of a rattle from the two-litre diesel unit on start up and from then on you don’t notice. It’s fantastically fuel efficient, too – around 700 miles on its 67.5 litre tank.
Auto stop start aids this frugality although like its driver this function gets bored after five minutes and restarts. How do I know this? I have been stuck in recurring roadworks for the past week that regularly exceed five minutes and continue for more like 20 minutes. When finally out of the jams, the V60 will confidently travel at speed providing great enjoyment on clear country lanes.
It is also fitted with Volvo’s e-Drive mode, which further helps economy. The six speed box is pleasing to use although on occasions it can be indecisive when choosing second gear.
The sat nav alerts the driver to the fact they’re entering the London congestion charge zone but this needs updating as it is free on weekends or public holidays.
The V60 is a comfortable executive express equipped with quickclear windscreen demisters and heated front seats. All the usual luxuries are included such as electric windows and air con. The dashboard is similar to that of an Alfa Romeo because it is angled in the driver’s favour, much to my wife’s disappointment. The radio reception could be stronger.
Externally the V60 is a curvaceous beauty – Volvo has taken the old V60 and rounded off the edges with great success producing a very fashionable and sought after cool estate car. However, there are some blind spots, making it feel a little cumbersome on occasions, mainly when manoeuvring and reversing but its safety systems help with this.
Unlocking the car is simple – as long as the driver has the key on them, the Volvo intelligently recognises this fact and all you have to do is place a hand on a door handle for it to open. This is a much appreciated feature during April showers as it means you get in the car very quickly without the usual faff associated with car keys.
If the driver has the key on them there’s no need to insert the key in the dash to start the car. Instead just put your feet on the clutch and brake and push the start button and it fires into life.
There isn’t a traditional handbrake instead a switch on the right of the dash – you just push it down to unlock or engage but there is a slight delay. The wing mirrors automatically fold when it’s locked.
Parkers, the car experts, say: “Volvo is best known for large and practical estates and the V60 remains the core model for the manufacturer – a modern version of its archetypal load carrier.”
As you would expect the V60 is a splendid driver’s car loaded with safety features.
Volvo V60 2-litre D3 estate Ocean Race
New price: £35,400
Top speed: 137mph
Economy: 65mpg (extra urban)
Watch the video at: www.testdrives.biz
By Tim Saunders
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