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Volvo V60 Cross Country Review: More Interesting Than Any Mercedes

"The opposite of boring."

Volvo V60 Cross Country Review: More Interesting Than Any Mercedes

Volvo is known for three things: station wagons, safety and being a little bit boring. But as their superb V60 Cross Country demonstrates, you should reconsider that last stereotype – indeed, Volvo’s latest station wagon is so fun and so luxurious, it gives Mercedes-Benz a run for its money.

Volvo’s reputation for conservative yet safe cars is well-earned. The Swedish firm has been responsible for inventing and introducing many safety features we now consider indispensable in modern cars, such as the first three-point seat belt, side airbags and adaptive cruise control.

They’re also well-known for their station wagons. The 200 Series wagon, in all its boxy glory, is arguably the archetypal station wagon. My family had a 240 when I was young that we’d inherited from my grandpa: it was like driving a tank, it was so slow (and so beige!) but it was totally bulletproof.

Yet Volvo has a long history of turning even its most staid of wagons into fun performance. Just think of the 850 R, which was so sporty it was even raced in touring car championships in both Australia and the UK; or the original, paddock-bashing Cross Country, which precipitated the off-road wagon/crossover craze that’s borne cars like the Škoda Octavia Scout or Subaru XV.

Volvo’s latest Cross Country, the V60 Cross Country, is their best yet. Combining serious performance credentials with a truly luxurious driving experience and boatloads of practicality, it’s the opposite of boring.

It’s not just fun to drive, but it’s also a rather good-looking motor, too. Image: Volvo

The V60 is currently the only station wagon Volvo offers in Australia (a somewhat shocking state of affairs, truth be told) and they only offer it in one flavour: in Cross Country form in B5 spec, which gives you a 2.0L 4-cylinder turbo petrol engine plus a 48V mild-hybrid system mated to an eight-speed traditional torque converter automatic good for 183kW/350Nm and 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds.

Those numbers are nothing to sniff at, but they don’t really tell the full story. Despite being a fairly boat-like wagon, the V60 Cross Country is an exceptionally, surprisingly nimble car. Not only does it have plenty of pep off the line, but its quick throttle response makes it a great highway lane merger. It also sounds amazing, that turbo-four producing a lovely note that you’d never think would come out of a mild hybrid car.

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Off the highway, the V60 Cross Country is also exceptionally capable, thanks to its 203mm of ground clearance and solid all-wheel drive system – but this overlanding bent doesn’t compromise comfort or sportiness when you’re not in the greens.

It’s shocking just how complete the driving experience is. It feels like it can do a bit of everything… And do it in style, too. The interior is unbelievably nice – very Scandi and minimalist yet not obtrustively so like a Tesla – and the exterior oozes a sort of high-tech muscliness that’s really rather interesting. This Swedish car may as well be German. Actually, it’s better looking than its German rivals.

Plenty of room for activities. Image: Jamie Weiss/DMARGE

Wagons are just starting to see a bit of a resurgence after years of the SUV and the crossover largely supplanting their place in the market. Wagons are cool again – and the V60 Cross Country is arguably the coolest, something that might surprise people who think of Volvo wagons as being bland.

Actually, the sad thing is that the V60 Cross Country has very little competition in Australia. Mercedes doesn’t offer the C-Class wagon Down Under anymore, let alone the raised All-Terrain – and even if it did, the Volvo is a better car. The Audi A4 allroad and BMW 3 Series Touring are great cars, but they’re more expensive, and Subaru’s offerings lack the refinement of the V60.

Ah well. Let Volvo reclaim the station wagon throne. They deserve to, thanks to how good the V60 Cross Country is. Check it out for yourself at Volvo’s online showroom here.

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