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The Volvo V60 Cross Country is a good car - but is a petrol engine the best fit?
Volvo makes a petrol engine option available with its previously diesel-only V60 Cross Country. It is a 2.0-litre, 250hp unit, badged T5, which we are familiar with in other Volvos, and with other variants in the V60 range.
Autonomous emergency braking with steering support, lane-keep assist, 9in touchscreen, sat-nav, front and rear park assist, hill descent control, cruise control, keyless entry and start, automatic LED headlights with active bending function, front LED foglights, automatic wipers, electric tailgate, heated front seats, powered drivers seat, load protection net, two USB ports.
The V60 Cross Country is Volvo's crossover version of its upper-medium estate car. It features four-wheel drive, a raised ride height and bespoke driving modes to make it better off-road, while charcoal-coloured wheel arch extensions and lower sill mouldings give it a more rugged appearance.
For drivers living in rural areas, it offers an attractive degree of go-anywhere ability, without the compromises associated with a full-blown SUV - although the four-wheel drive system means increased running costs compared with the standard V60.
The Cross Country initially arrived earlier this year with only one engine available, the 2.0-litre 190hp D4 diesel, but Volvo has now extended the range by adding a petrol version, the 2.0-litre, 250hp T5. A few years ago, a petrol engine in a car like this would have been a very niche proposition, but given the continued collapse in diesel car sales - plus Volvo's own abandonment of diesel for all future models - it now seems like less of an outlier. But is that enough to make the T5 the right choice?
Out of character
Well, from a driver's point of view, it is certainly impressively powerful - 0-62mph can be achieved in less than seven seconds. The problem is, this isn't a car for which those sorts of stats really matter - indeed it is rather the opposite. As well as sitting 60mm higher than regular V60s, the Cross Country also features suspension that has been retuned with a greater focus on comfort.
In many ways this is very welcome - those covering long distances will appreciate the smooth ride on offer, while the resulting compromise in handling is minor. However, it means the T5 engine doesn't really feel like the right fit for the job at hand. While it does offer excitingly urgent performance (notwithstanding a slightly hesitant eight-speed automatic gearbox) that will be appreciated by those running late for a country appointment or needing to overtake a tractor, the Cross Country is a car that is set up for wafting along B-roads at a canter, not barrelling down them hot hatch-style. It doesn't feel quite as smooth as a diesel on motorways either, - although with a peak torque figure of 350Nm it is hardly lacking - and while the petrol is a bit quieter around town it is nothing game-changing.
Counting the cost
Admittedly, these are all minor quibbles, and nobody is really likely to complain about driving a car with this engine. However, a more serious issue is the T5's running costs. Its CO2 emissions place it in the second-from-top 36% BIK tax bracket, and while admittedly this is only one band above the diesel (thanks to the latter incurring the 4% diesel surcharge), the petrol engine's shortfall in fuel economy - 35.8mpg compared with 47.9mpg - is more stark.
The T5 does claw something back by being slightly cheaper to buy, but it is not enough to make it the right choice in the Cross Country, with the diesel a better fit from both a driving and an accounting point of view. For drivers with their heart set on petrol power, a different model in the V60 range, such as the performance-focused R-Design, would be a better choice.