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Jump on this grand wagon

Wagons are not popular in Singapore yet, but the Volvo V60 is no ordinary stationwagon as its overseas sales attest to.

If what you're carrying can't fit in the back of the V60, you should just hire a truck instead.

If what you're carrying can't fit in the back of the V60, you should just hire a truck instead.


WHETHER it's due to fashion, habit, or even plain old superstition, Singaporeans simply don't buy stationwagons, but the new Volvo V60 could go some way to changing that.

The best of the wagon breed is able to combine the excellent driving characteristics of a sedan with the usefulness of a sports utility vehicle (SUV) while avoiding the negatives of both, and the V60 wagon certainly ranks as one of the best.

The V60 is likely to sell in far fewer numbers than its brother, the S60 sedan, both of which officially launch here next week. The S60/V60 compete in the hard-fought executive sedan/wagon segment against established names, including the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, and Mercedes-Benz C-Class.

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The second-generation model showed a lack of competitiveness towards the end of its very long lifespan, but the new third-gen model driven here levels the playing field considerably, and is now able to match the Germans blow-for-blow.

It encapsulates everything good about the new, resurgent Volvo given free rein under Chinese ownership, but buyers who are sensitive about where their cars are made needn't worry - the V60 is built in the V60 is built in Belgium and Sweden.

On the fashion front, it looks every bit the modern European sports-wagon, an impression strengthened by the fact that it's longer, lower and wider than the German competition.

The model tested here is the current top dog of the V60 range, the sporty T5 R-Design, so it packs a more aggressive body kit, among other things. Swedish minimalism is in force here, so the V60 looks athletic but not over-styled.

That extends to the interior as well, which is a good example of simplicity without austerity, with a generous acreage of soft touch surfaces punctuated by chrome highlights.

The infotainment system operates solely by a 9.0-inch touchscreen which can be finicky to use on the move, but it redeems itself with crisp graphicsand a full suite of features, as well as being a huge step up from the previous model. It also brings the V60 in line with its more expensive brethren.

As mentioned, the V60 is larger than its German counterparts, which translates to an interior that's so impressively roomy and spacious, it almost feels like a car one size up.

The same can be said of its cargo-carrying ability, which can stretch from a huge 529-litres to 1,441-litres with the second row of seats folded down. The S60 sedan, in comparison, can only fit 442-litres, and has a much smaller loading aperture. Suffice it to say, if what you're carrying can't fit in the back of the V60, you should just hire a truck instead.

The car is powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged engine with a healthy 250hp, and sprints from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds. In everyday terms, it's enough power for any normal driver, and means that no taxi will get the drop on you, thanks to a combination of big turbo torque and all-wheel drive.

In a word, it's fast, but that's offset a little by the car's thirst, since we weren't able to get anywhere near the car's quoted 7.3L/100km fuel efficiency, even when driving conscientiously. The V60 does reward drivers who demand more, though. The R-Design model has a sportier chassis setup, and this translates into more enjoyment behind the wheel for dedicated drivers.

While it still can't quite match the BMW 3 Series in absolute handling and driving fun, it's closed the gap considerably in dynamic terms. And while the let-your-hair-down aspect is more obvious this time around, this wouldn't be a Volvo if it didn't pack a litany of "alphabet soup" active and passive safety systems.

They are literally too many to explain or even list in full, but it's not an exaggeration to say that the car is the safest in its class, and can support the driver - or even act autonomously - to maximise safety in pretty much any situation.

The cherry on top of all this is the fact that despite being the most expensive car of the S60/V60 range, the V60 T5 R-Design is still considerably less expensive than the Germans it's now able to meet head-on.

The wagon-cynical probably won't change their minds any time soon, but perhaps we should take a page from everywhere else in the world: globally, Volvo sells more than twice as many V60 wagons as it does S60 sedans.

Maybe it's time Singaporeans jumped on this bandwagon too. If the wagon happens to be a V60, we think you won't regret it.

Volvo V60 T5 R-Design

Engine 1,969cc, inline 4, turbocharged
Power 250hp at 5,500rpm
Torque 350Nm at 1,500-4,800rpm
Gearbox 8-speed automatic
0-100km/h 6.5 seconds
Top Speed 235km/h
Fuel Efficiency 7.3L/100km
Agent Wearnes Automotive
Price S$195,000 with COE
Available Now