The antithesis of Henry Ford’s “any colour you like, as long as it’s black” view, Volvo energetically pushes a “people-oriented” approach. Essentially, the company suggests, its cars are built around lifestyles, not the other way round. Be that as it may, the Volvo way provides ample scope for tailoring your ride to your needs, from mood lighting to TFT display instrument layout (premiered on the V40) and driver aid activation. There’s even a My Car button to recall your preferred settings for several systems, with a single flick of the finger.
In addition to that, for 2013 the three-car 60 line-up features subtle evolutionary changes and some significant tech enhancements. Luckily, despite the best efforts of a cold, wet, windy Cape winter’s day, we had the opportunity to put some of that tech to the test.
We kicked off by driving current-generation 60s to a staging point to provide a basis for comparison. From then on, it was musical cars with the S60, XC60 and V60. Immediate impression: more refinement.
Visual and ergonomic tweaks are a strong feature of the new range, from the assertive front-end look to the interior makeover. A new sport seat is available on special order, too. Even an apparently trivial change such as a gloss black finish for the forward-looking radar cover is expressly intended to minimise a bulky intrusion on the grille’s clean looks.
The range-topping T6 petrol engine develops an eyebrow-raising 224 kW AND 440 N.m from its 3-litre capacity, yet clocks 9,9 litres/100 km on the EU combined cycle. A second-generation 6-speed Volvo Geartronic ’box is standard.
Other petrol options include a 2-litre direct injection T5 that produces 177 kW and 320 N.m. The 1,6-litre GTDi comes in two versions (132 and 110 kW) and despite its modest size provides ample oomph. The 1,6 is also a winner on economy, with a quoted 6,8 litres/100 km. The diesels are no less impressive, with 158 kW/440 N.m from the D5 turbo and 120 from the D4. Economy, predictably, is much better, at 4,8 litres/100 km for the D4.
Not quite as much a hatchback as the smaller V40, the estate version of the 60 range is very much a sportwagon. Versatile to a fault, the V60 features smart seating with a rear seat that folds down 40/20/40. Integrated booster seat cushions provide safe accommodation for children from three years old.
The all-wheel-drive XC60 is Volvo’s best seller. It features Corner Traction Control as standard, with a torque vectoring system that fights understeer by braking the inner wheels while powering the outer wheels when accelerating out of a corner.
Being bulkier than the sedans, the XC60 can be expected to be slightly thirstier: in T6 form it gets 10,7 litres/100 km; the D4 is the most frugal with 5,3 litres/100 km from its 120 kW diesel Four when paired with a manual gearbox.