- What’s Good: Volvo’s unique blend of safety, performance, wonderful interior appointments and, most of all, Swedish style.
- What’s Bad: Sensus Connect infotainment/settings/climate system is clunky and seriously needs to be updated.
One of the cars I remember best over the last 30 years was the Volvo 850 T-5R wagon painted in “Cream Yellow”.
It was fast, built like the Rock of Gibraltar and spacious does not even begin to describe the passenger and cargo volume.
You’d have to have seen it to appreciate it, but Volvo raced the 850 Wagon in the British Touring Car Championships with great elan back at the end of the last century.
Watching those wagons wade through shoals of Renaults, Vauxhalls, Citroen, Hondas and BMWs with the 850’s front wheels arched up in a corner was like nothing else I’ve seen before or since.
Yep, Volvos and wagons go hand-in-hand to this day and the 2019 V60 T6 Inscription reviewed here as another in a long line.
But we almost lost Volvo when Ford went on a (US)$17 billion buying spree in 1999, gobbling up Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover and Aston Martin under something called the Premier Automotive Group (PAG).
The idea was you’d go into a PAG showroom where there would be the above four lined up alongside Lincolns and top-end Fords.
Of course it didn’t work because Volvo buyers are different from those looking at a Jaguar or Lincoln.
When Alan Mulally took over as president and CEO of Ford, one of the first things he did was parcel off PAG, with Volvo the last to go in 2010 to Chinese carmaker Geely.
From that point, Volvo has clawed its way back to the point today where it is producing an array of sedans, SUVs and wagons all with the unique Swedish blend of style, safety and pace.
And Volvo gets wagons.
It’s fine to have a crossover that looks like many other crossovers, but when you see a Volvo wagon or sedan on the road, it stands out.
The 60-Series Volvos are available in sedan or wagon format with the designation T5 meaning it is front-drive and T6 is for the on-demand all-wheel-drive model.
Both are powered by the unique 2.0-litre, inline four-cylinder that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The supercharger supplies initial gas flow with the turbo joining in for combined grunt across the rev range.
The 2019 engine produces 316 hp and 295 lb/ft of torque. That is up from the 2018 turbo-only engine that puts out 302 hp.
And it’s faster too, with the 2019 V60 T6 doing 0-100 km/h in 5.6 seconds, compared to 6.0 seconds with the 2018 model.
This is a very handsome-looking car from any angle, with flowing lines like fine Swedish furniture stemming from the front lights along the roof and window sills. The only character line is along the rocker panels, so the overall look is clean, especially when compared to the some of weird, angular things coming out of Japan these days.
But it also has its quirks, such as the ignition switch which isn’t a key or a button but a small knob on the centre console you twist to the right to stop and start the engine.
The other quirk is the nine-inch Sensus Connect infotainment touchscreen on the centre stack, which is supposed to be used by the touch/pinch/swipe method.
Not only is it hard to understand, but it means taking your eyes off the road and looking down to the right and trying to stab at something with your fingers.
But the upside on this vehicle is substantial, starting with the seats that, in the Volvo tradition, are supportive, body fitting and look great.
And who needs a SUV when the cargo capacity is 558 litres behind the back seat, 1,441 folded?
But the best part is driving and all the years Volvo has spent refining its vehicles for varying road conditions.
Step on the gas and the T6 steps out with the super/turbocharged delivering the kind of linear acceleration you’d expect from a twin-turbo 3.0-litre, while the shifts from the eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission are imperceptible.
On my usual test route of combined city/highway/two-lane winding blacktop, the T6 glided along until I came across a conga-line of camper vans, which I made short work of with the powertrain responding instantly to inputs.
Very helpful along the way was the optional ($1,150) graphical head-up display that would cause the speed exceeding alert icon to blink incessantly. It was so annoying, the best solution was to throttle back the icon thusly serving its purpose.
But the best part was stopping for a coffee and feeling completely relaxed as I got out.
As mentioned, this is an Inscription model, which means it’s loaded with standard features, just of few of the more than 50 being panoramic sunroof, power rear folding seats with power folded headrests, lane keeping assist, LED headlights and 12-inch driver main instrument display.
Every possible driver and passenger safety aid is available, as you’d expect from Volvo.
All of this, however, comes at a price with the starting figure of $55,400 rising swiftly to $66,750, not including a $2,015 destination fee.
But that’s in the ballpark with its main competitors such as BMW 330i Touring and the Mercedes-Benz C Class Wagon.
Bottom line is it’s a Volvo and a very competent one at that and well worth consideration in the mid-size wagon segment.