It’s rare for us to test a car in its most basic specification. Manufacturers like to load their press demonstrators with lots of extras to allow motoring journalists like us to fully explore the range of options available to real car buyers like you.
It makes sense, too, because quite often the entry-level trim comes without much of the kit many customers now consider essential equipment. Be that sat-nav, DAB radio or leather seats, the cheapest models are normally built to offer an appealing starting price that manufacturers and dealers can apply to their promotional material and marketing campaigns.
• Best estate cars on the market
But with the latest Volvo V60, the cheapest trim works best. Even the bog-standard Momentum model gets automatic LED headlights, a power tailgate, alloy wheels and two-zone climate control. There’s also a nine-inch portrait touchscreen that features sat-nav and voice recognition. What more could you really ask for?
This got us thinking: should you even consider upgrading to our car’s ‘Pro’ spec? Or further still to the sportier R-Design or glitzy range-topping Inscription; is there any essential kit the standard V60 misses out on? In short, not really. Throw away the brochure and do yourself a favour: avoid the options list and order this model.
In addition to all the bits listed above, the V60 Momentum boasts a full suite of safety kit, including autonomous emergency braking, oncoming lane mitigation, road sign recognition, driver alert control and a host of airbags. There are Isofix points on the outer rear seats, too.
However, our car isn’t completely devoid of optional kit. The £1,625 Intellisafe Pro Pack adds Volvo’s excellent (but perhaps unnecessary) Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive features, while the reversing camera and surround view monitor (£700) are handy, if far from essential. Especially when you consider every version of the V60 gets rear parking sensors as standard.
Dark tinted windows (£600), upgraded wheels (just £75) and Fusion Red metallic paint (£650) are nice to have, too, yet we could happily live without them. We’ll concede that the spare wheel and jack are worthwhile additions, however, especially with winter approaching. The roads at this time of year are mucky, and the added rain can pose a heightened risk of potholes.
Interior quality is excellent; the V60 Momentum easily matches its German rivals for fit and finish. As much as we’d love to, we’ve not tried a car with the standard fabric seats, but our Pro model’s leather chairs feel plush and on longer journeys they’re incredibly comfortable. There’s soft material across the doors and dash, and everything you touch feels built to last. The digital dials look great and the infotainment system is responsive and easy to operate.
Even the engine is gutsy enough to haul our car’s considerable 1,729kg kerbweight. Granted, if you regularly carry four adult passengers and a full boot you may find the more powerful models a better fit, but with 320Nm of torque, our D3 diesel is perfectly adequate most of the time.
Still, one option we would recommend is the auto box. The V60 has no aspirations to drive as sharply as a BMW 3 Series, and its relaxed nature is perfectly matched by the smooth eight-speed transmission. Added to our car’s excellent refinement and relatively small 17-inch wheels, it makes the Volvo a fantastic motorway cruiser.
Fuel economy is another welcome benefit. While the forthcoming S60 saloon will only be offered with petrol and plug-in hybrid powertrains, the V60 has also been launched with a pair of diesel options; ours is the popular D3 version with 148bhp.
Our model is already returning almost 44mpg, and with less than 2,000 miles on the clock that’s only likely to improve over time. Company car drivers will be penalised by the four per cent diesel surcharge for Benefit-in-Kind tax, but if you cover high mileages (more than 20,000 miles per year) as many buyers do, the better fuel economy will make the higher monthly payments well worth it.
*Insurance quote from AA (0800 107 0680) for a 42-year-old in Banbury, Oxon, with three points.
source: AutoExpress Car Reviews (autoexpress.co.uk)