I’ve had a driver's license for more years than I’m willing to admit but, until recently, I had never driven a Volvo. I'd heard lots about the Swedish brand's safety features, their dependability, the fact they’re seen as a functional family car, so I thought I knew what to expect when invited to review the V60 Luxury T5 for CarAdvice.com.
Here’s how my week with this luxury vehicle panned out.
Day 1 – Friday
I was definitely pleasantly surprised at how sporty it felt and looked when I picked it up at 4:30 pm on a Thursday from their city location and headed straight into peak-hour traffic across Sydney Harbour Bridge as I headed home – an hour’s drive into the country. I’d been briefed on most of the safety features but on first impression it was the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) indicator lights which went on and off constantly as cars entered that dreaded zone just behind the driver’s clear line-of-sight, plus the Lane Keeping Aid, technology which ‘reads’ the white lines and vibrates the steering wheel slightly if you veer out of your lane that caught my attention to start with.
Once off the motorway and onto suburban streets I noticed an indicator on the dash which showed the changing speed zones as I entered them – handy!
It really does make you focus when you can see the speed you’re going right next to the speed you’re allowed to do at any given time. I was definitely impressed.
It was dark by the time I left suburbia behind and reached stretches of unlit roads. The High Beams helped show the way, even tracking around bends – a great feature in the country where there’s a big risk of wildlife on the road – but the best aspect of these high beams are that they dim automatically when they sense oncoming traffic.
My first hour in the car was nothing but positive.
Day 2 – Saturday
The weekend brought the chance to get out of automatic and explore what sports mode is like on the car, so I took it across to the Hawkesbury River crossing at Wisemans Ferry, an hour to the north-west of Sydney, and in to the Blue Mountains. It’s simple to shift with the gears (paddle shifters) located behind the steering wheel, and without too much other traffic around I really got the feel of how it hugs the road on bends.
The leather seats and sporty steering wheel felt good to the touch as well. The Bluetooth and iPhone connectivity was simple to work out – the GPS was less handy. The only way to pop in an address for directions was via the (I found) rather old-fashioned Nokia-type keyboard, which was time consuming and fiddly. There may have been a more straight-forward way to input information, but if so, it wasn’t obvious. I ended up not using the navigations system at all until, later in the week, I was running low on fuel and it automatically asked if I wanted directions to the closest service station. One tap of a button and I was sorted. I did find that impressive!
Day 3 – Sunday
A friend’s birthday celebration took us to Manly on Sunday afternoon, and although it was raining the Beach-side suburb was packed with visitors and traffic – clearly parking was going to be an issue, but not in the way I expected. I normally drive a massive 4×4 Patrol, so I thought parking the Volvo would be a cinch, especially with the help of the automatic tilting side mirror which shows the kerb-line as the car is put into reverse – plus the help of a rear parking camera and sensors – but I think the culmination of all those alerts threw my usual parking prowess off. I struggled to straighten up in reverse and was hyper aware of being close to pillars etc, probably because of the alerts which were going off.
Day 4 – Monday
Back to work Monday and on my morning drive I tried out cruise control for the first time. I liked the way it increases and decreases in 5km/hr increments – this avoids all the fiddling each time you need to change your speed.
This and the Road Sign Information make for a stress-free drive in areas where the speed limit changes frequently over a short distance (you still need to keep an eye open in school zones however due to the fact that it reads 40km/hr 24/7).
The heated front seats were a very welcome bonus on a winter morning – the climate control in general was very straightforward to use and extremely efficient.
On the flip-side, I found the auto-dim rear-view and wing side mirrors (which automatically tint in the dark in order to reduce glare) actually hindered being able to see rear traffic clearly. This made multi-lane driving less relaxed.
Day 5 – Tuesday
By day five I felt really at home in the car. The console was easy to understand, and when in doubt, I found one click of the ‘My Car’ button showed the way. The Scandinavian flair and comfort is obvious in the engineering but also in the little things – from the subtle handbrake control to the console cup-holder (I swore I wasn’t going to talk about cup-holders in this review, but these hugged my early-morning coffee cup like it was a baby so definitely deserve a mention). Of course I didn’t get over 100km/hr during my review but with a potential top speed of 230km/hr, I would have loved to try it a little faster just for the sensation.
Day 6 – Wednesday
In search for a location to shoot a video, I took the Volvo V60 for a drive around Sydney hunting down the perfect spot. This is where the fuel economy measures such as stop/start technology comes into its own. I didn’t use a full tank of fuel in the week I had the car, so couldn’t do a precise consumption calculation but the specs claim 6.8L/100km which I feel is probably good for a vehicle of this sporty-ness.
Day 7 – Thursday
On my last day with the car I’d had enough experience to decide what I liked most about it and what I didn’t.
In order of favourites:
There weren’t many features I didn’t like about this car, however:
Driving this luxury car was a great experience. I soon recovered from the sensory overload on the first drive with all the safety alerts (lights, beeps, buzzes and steering wheel vibration) when I was tempted to switch off some of the alerts. Once I went back to driving my own car however, I realized that I had become used to having these conveniences and I wonder whether they could lead to complacency.
I would definitely recommend a test drive of the Volvo V60 T5 Luxury to anyone who is after a safety feature-laden wagon with a sporty feel – and has $60,000+ to spend.
The Volvo V60 range starts from $55,990
For a more in-depth review of the Volvo V60 T5 Luxury visit CarAdvice.com.au