Final report: Volvo V60 long-term test
24 July 2019
Author: Simon Harris
|Volvo V60 D4 auto Inscription|
|P11D price £38,200|
|As tested £41,585|
|Official consumption 53.2mpg|
|Our average consumption 52.3mpg Mileage 8,300|
Final Report: Volvo shines through dark times
It wasn't the best of handshakes back in January when we took delivery of our new Volvo V60.
Everything seemed perfect, but, on delivery, the touchscreen was failing to respond to touch, meaning a visit to the dealer was necessary, not to mention a couple of weeks of relying on voice commands and the limited number of functions available through the steering wheel buttons.
All should have been well with the new touchscreen, and thereafter the car functioned perfectly. However, we noticed some scuffs on the trim (now misaligned on the dashboard), which would have been removed in the dealer workshop to carry out the work.
If this V60 were someone's company car, the driver might have been resigned to keeping it for the duration of its term on a fleet and after three or four years it might well have come under the BVRLA's fair wear and tear guidelines.
But it was embarrassing for Volvo's UK comms team, who arranged for the damaged trim to be replaced at its Cambridge dealer, a previous winner of the brand's Dealer of the Year.
After 90 minutes, with an additional health check carried out as well as the offer of a courtesy valet, the V60 was back on the road, set for a few months of trouble-free driving.
This came to an abrupt end in May, when the car was broken into while in a London car park, and needed a replacement rear window.
So it was an incident-packed six months, but although there were problems, only the first one - a faulty touchscreen on delivery - reflected badly on Volvo itself, while there was much to enjoy in the car.
I chose the most powerful diesel version available combined with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission for maximum comfort during my typically high- mileage driving.
It fulfilled this requirement every time I got behind the wheel. The touchscreen interface, which has been part of every new Volvo since the current XC90 was launched in 2015, takes a few days to get used to, but then seems intuitive, although there were still aspects of it I didn't use, even during 8,000 miles of driving.
I also enjoyed the convenience of the Volvo On Call smartphone app. As well as checking the status of the car - including fuel level and whether or not the doors are locked - it also has a driving journal where business and private mileage can be logged, and it records fuel consumption.
Volvo has worked hard to build up a premium image for itself, and it can take a number of generations of cars for perceptions to change among potential customers.
There is nothing about the V60 that would suggest it hasn't reached the level of the German premium brands. The fit and finish of the interior is millimetre perfect, the quality of the materials is as high as you would expect in a £40,000 car, and it is done with Volvo's own style and personality.
Recommendations of alternatives to the German premium brands often come with qualifications and caveats, such as "if you want to be different".
The V60 is different, but only in that it comes with the personality and ambience now firmly established in modern Volvos. Defining what a brand stands for and the image of its products can be incredibly difficult, and many car manufacturers that aspire to premium status have got it wrong. Volvo is doing it right, and the V60 is a prime example.
5th Report: Theft highlights vehicle crime
It was a cry for help.
I merely thought it was the V60's tendency to alert me about all kinds of risks, but this, sadly, was genuine.
A text alert at 7.59pm that the car's alarm had been triggered, as well as a notification on the Volvo On Call app at the same time, was the V60 desperately trying to attract someone's attention.
I had left it in a fairly tight Q-Park in Central London, and assumed the alert was most likely a result of someone else being careless when manoeuvring.
In any case, I was at least a two-minute sprint away, so an attempted intervention from me to prevent the security breach would have failed.
In fact, the car looked fine when I got back to it; it was reversed into the space where I left it, rear bumper snug against the wall.
It meant the sight of the smashed rear window wasn't immediately apparent until I got in the car and began to drive away, puzzled that the voices of passers-by were quite intrusive.
Some luggage - I was heading straight to Folkestone for a long weekend abroad - and a bag containing my work laptop computer were gone.
Although my passport was hidden away in the glove compartment, the Volvo was not to accompany me on my trip.
The crime was reported, and the gaping hole in the tailgate was patched up until it could be repaired, but even though the car park was covered by CCTV (clearly not a deterrent for the thieves), I had low expectations that it would be followed up.
The standard email from the Metropolitan Police about lack of evidence confirmed this, although lack of resources is more likely.
But shouldn't cars now be better equipped to deter thieves? With 360-degree cameras now fairly common (although usually optional), shouldn't these be prompted to record footage for a short period before the incident after the alarm is triggered? Anyway, I am now looking forward to an incident-free few weeks before the Volvo is returned.
4th Report: Getting the VIP treatment
You might remember the report a couple of months ago when, following the replacement of the V60's malfunctioning touchscreen, the dealer damaged some of the interior trim pieces in the process.
The dealer didn't own up to the mistake, leading to us discovering the damage - a chip in the wood trim insert on the passenger side, which was also misaligned at the edge nearest the screen - a week or so later when we next drove the car in daylight.
After writing about this, Volvo's communications team got in touch with us, and suggested we take the car to Volvo's Cambridge retailer, which had recently undergone a Volvo Personal Service (VPS) overhaul.
An appointment was made, and the key for the car was handed in to staff at the service desk.
During the 90-minute wait for the V60 to be repaired, there was a choice of comfy seats, or a more upright arrangement for people who prefer that.
Hot beverages and cold drinks were available for the duration of my stay, and had I taken a courtesy car to go about my business, I would have received updates.
Just before the car was ready, I received a text message with a link to a video of the technician, Jake Hibbett, talking me through the car's healthcheck. Below the video was a list of any work that might have needed doing and a colour-coded system relating to the urgency.
As it is still a new car with less than 7,000 miles on the clock, the inspection was mostly visual, but included brake pad wear, tyre tread depth, air conditioning temperature, battery health, and others.
They all appeared with a green rating, but for advisory items it would show a yellow code and for urgent, red. Prices are listed. and customers can choose to include any work and approve it remotely.
There was also an offer to return the car washed, but I declined as it was already pretty clean.
The wood trim pieces either side of the centre screen had been replaced. I hadn't noticed a problem with the smaller piece obscured by the steering wheel, but Hibbert said there were some minor scuffs.
The lower metal trim that surrounds the wood and the touchscreen was also replaced. Maybe it was the sunny day.
Maybe it was because Volvo Car UK had requested my appointment so the retailer knew it had to be on best behaviour.
But the experience was much better than my earlier encounter with a Volvo retailer - which, incidentally, was part of the same dealer group as the one in Cambridge.
But the VPS certainly makes you feel like you are treated as a premium car customer should be, and we're looking forward to a few more weeks with the car before it is returned.
3rd Report: App happy in the Volvo V60
When specifying the Volvo V60, we didn't go overboard, as you can see from the price 'as tested' to the right
For example, there is no rear-view camera and no semi-autonomous parking system. Our V60 has parking proximity sensors, which work well enough.
I am happy enough using the steering wheel myself and relying on the frequency of the beeps to work out how close I am to obstacles that are hidden from my eye-line.
But there were some features that have proven their worth to high-mileage drivers such as myself.
Two in particular have made covering high mileage in the V60 (note the mileage listed is 3,000 higher than we published just a month ago) very easy.
Pilot Assist combines lane-keeping assistance and adaptive cruise control to keep pace with heavy traffic at low speeds, or maintain a safe speed on the motorway.
The driver is always required to remain in command and monitor the road for obstacles (for example, it will warn the driver if it senses no steering input for a few seconds), yet it reduces fatigue significantly on my trips.
Likewise, away from the car, the Volvo On Call app has been a boon several times. It reminds me if I have left the V60 unlocked and can lock it using the app without me having to return to the car.
If I am heading to a new destination, I can find it on the app's map and send directions from the phone - wherever I might be - to the car's navigation system, so it is primed to accept it with one touch of the screen when I arrive. When you are a 40,000-miles-a-year driver, anything that streamlines the process of using the company vehicle is helpful.
2nd Report: Dealer takes shine off premium experience
Last month we reported that the touchscreen in the V60 had failed on delivery, and a visit to the dealer for a factory reset and a software update didn't make any difference, I took the car into Marshalls Volvo in Peterborough for the screen to be replaced under warranty.
Generally, as members of the media evaluating cars, we have two choices. Our contacts at the manufacturer can arrange for the car to be taken away to their preferred location for repair, and returned after an inspection to ensure it is perfect.
Otherwise, we try our luck with the dealer network, and I decided this would be more honest as part of our evaluation of the car.
Marshalls wanted to keep the car for two days and offered a courtesy car to keep me on the road in the meantime - an S90 with the same engine and automatic gearbox as the V60. So far, so good.
My Volvo On Call app alerts me when the car is unlocked, so it was possible to keep track of how busy the workshop technicians were with the V60, and two days seemed to allow ample time for them to fit in the screen replacement.
It didn't seem to be a tricky job, but it would probably involve removing some of the dashboard parts in order to replace the screen.
By 4pm on day two, I hadn't heard anything from the service department, so I called, and after a brief check was told the car was ready - good timing as I had a long drive the next day and would be out of the country for a couple of days.
The V60 seemed fine, but the first time I took a passenger out after its return, he pointed out a chip in the wood trim directly in front of him.
On closer inspection, the whole trim piece was misaligned and protruding at the edge nearest the screen.
It is something I can live with as I am only keeping the car for a maximum of six months while I report on the ownership experience, and I have learned that while I will take care of the test vehicle as if it were my own, I don't become too emotionally attached.
But it is disappointing nonetheless that some of the dealers haven't quite matched the image that Volvo has worked hard to establish as a premium brand.
1st Report: Last of the diesel Volvos
If any older readers have fond memories of brown Volvo estates - perhaps 245s in the 1970s - then we have great news for you over the next six months.
Business Car has taken delivery of the latest Volvo V60 - the company's last ever car to be launched with a diesel option - which we will be running until the summer.
The V60 was launched in the UK during the second half of 2018, and is essentially the estate version of the forthcoming S60 saloon. Of course, being an estate, you would expect it to carry a bit more than the four-door, but despite other similarities, the S60 will not be available with a diesel engine.
Although the diesel market in the UK has fallen in recent years, it still represents a large proportion of fleet sales, and the larger the car, the more likely it is that diesel is the least expensive way of operating it.
The V60 is offered with a choice of 150hp or 190hp versions of Volvo's four-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel engine, badged D3 and D4. There is a 250hp T5 2.0-litre petrol alternative, but this is unlikely to find favour with most fleet operators.
As my annual mileage is around 30,000 or so, much of it on the motorway, I decided to choose the 190hp D4 with the optional eight-speed automatic transmission.
We also went for the more luxurious Inscription equipment grade over the sportier looking R-Design. Smaller wheels will be a relief over some of the poor road surfaces in my neck of the woods.
The autumnal 'Maple Brown' metallic paint colour contrasts with the light leather interior, although we requested brown 'Linear Lime' porous wood trim inserts instead of the standard 'Driftwood'.
We also selected the Intellisafe pro pack of safety features (as a £1,675 option), and we were surprised to see Apple Carplay and Android Auto integration priced at £300 - something many drivers in mainstream cars would take for granted.
We ticked the box for the winter pack, which includes heated front seats and headlight washers.
We also signed up to the Volvo On Call app, which allows various functions to be controlled and monitored remotely on your smartphone, but more on that in a later update.
It was a little disappointing to discover soon after delivery that the car's dashboard screen - a focal point of the interior - was unresponsive. It was also frustrating, as so many functions and controls are housed within it.
We booked it into my local Volvo dealer, Marshalls in Peterborough, to get it looked at, and after a factory reset and software update, it was booked in for closer attention almost two weeks later.
However, it is possible to circumvent the touchscreen for some things by using the car's standard voice control. So despite losing the screen, it was possible to select navigation destinations and activate the heat for the driver's seat.
Hopefully, things will be smoother after the dealer takes another look at the screen.