Volvo S60 Cross Country review

Volvo has given its S60 saloon the go-anywhere Cross Country treatment. The experts at Car & Driving check it out.

Ten Second Review

Volvo's 'Cross Country' brand has a long and distinguished heritage - at least with the company's estates. Now this badge has been applied to one of the manufacturer's saloons too in the shape of this S60 Cross Country model. Could this car open up a whole new segment for its maker?

Background

Today, the idea of a family car with allroad capability is quite common, captured most notably by the latest genre of 'Qashqai-like' Crossover designs. Back in 1997 though, the concept was pretty revolutionary. It was then that Volvo first introduced its 'Cross Country' models, beefed-up versions of the company's estate cars that could manage the odd trip into the rough. In the current market, the Swedish brand has extended that approach to include its V40 compact family hatchback too, but it's never offered us a saloon model kitted out for a wilderness trek. Until now. Until the introduction of the S60 Cross Country four-door model we're looking at here. If you're in the market for an efficient, good-looking 'BMW 3 Series-style' compact executive saloon and want something a bit different, it could be the car you never knew you wanted.

Driving Experience

The S60 Cross Country comes only in D4 diesel guise but the two variants on offer (a 2WD model and a 4WD derivative) get completely different engines, though these both put out 190bhp. Go for the 2WD version and you get the brand's latest and very efficient 2.0-litre Drive-E unit that gets you to 62mph in 7.7s en route to 130mph. There's also the option of eight-speed auto transmission. Go for the AWD model though and you have to have one of Volvo's older Ford-derived engines, a much thirstier 2.4-litre unit. This comes only mated to auto transmission and manages the 62mph sprint in 8.8s. Obviously, the AWD variant's the one to have in the unlikely event that you will be venturing regularly onto soggy ground but a 2WD model with a decent set of winter tyres might do surprisingly well in a snowy snap, aided by a 65mm height increase over a standard S60 derivative.

Design and Build

Central to the Cross Country concept is the expression of go-anywhere capability and ruggedness. It is supposed to appeal to those with an active lifestyle and features the sort of design cues intended to highlight an adventurous nature. So as well as extra ground clearance, this S60 has skidplates front and rear, side scuff plates and bumper extenders. Integrated tailpipes reflect its more sporting aspirations. Other visually-enticing cues include gloss black trim for the windows and door mirrors, a unique front grille and equally unique alloys - up to 19-inches in size. Inside, the cabin is much as it would be on any normal S60. This means that you get the Adaptive Digital Display we first saw in the smaller V40 hatch: this lets you change the look and feel of the instrument dials via three 'themes' - 'Elegance', 'Eco' and 'Performance'. Plus there's also the option of a 'Sensus' infotainment system that allows you to add connectivity and internet access into the car. This set-up turns the 7-inch infotainment display into a state-of-the-art infrared, beam-scanned touch screen that can be used even when wearing gloves - a world first in cars.The driver can go online either via a car-mounted 3G/4G dongle or a personal mobile phone and features include the industry's first in-dash, fully integrated, voice search Spotify application. The voice-activation system works on all music sources connected to the Connected Touch. It is also possible to share a WiFi network with everyone in the car.

Market and Model

You'll need a healthy company budget for this rugged-looking compact executive saloon. Allow around £34,000 for the 2WD D4 diesel and around £37,000 for the auto-only AWD 2.4-litre version. That puts this car right up against German rivals like Audi's A4 2.0 TDI Quattro and BMW's 320d xDrive. Still, at least this Volvo's well equipped, complete with plush 'Lux Nav' trim. As well as the defining Cross Country styling features, buyers can also expect to find satellite navigation, LED running lights, automatic wipers, a height and reach adjustable leather steering wheel with chrome trim, power adjustable heated door mirrors, cruise control, climate control, active bending xenon lights with a cornering function and a tyre pressure monitoring system. Safety-wise, all the main bases are covered. Take the City Safety function that can automatically warn the driver and, ultimately, apply the brakes if it detects an imminent collision. There's also an optional Pedestrian Detection function that keeps an eye out for people stepping in front of the vehicle. Seatbelt pretensioners are fitted to all seats and a full array of airbags is standard. You also get an ACC Adaptive Cruise Control system that can maintain a set gap to the vehicle in front, a parking assist camera with front and rear sensors and a further camera on the front grille to help the driver see out of blind junctions. The specially developed infotainment system brings the various functions together on a five or seven inch screen mounted high on the dashboard.

Cost of Ownership

The front-wheel-drive D4 diesel model emits a tax-friendly CO2 of 111g/km when mated to its manual gearbox, though this goes up to 120g/km for the auto. However, this still means there's no tax liability for the first year of ownership and only £30 a year in subsequent years. Combined cycle fuel figures are rated at 67.3mpg for the manual and 70.6mpg for the automatic. Of course, the bigger-engined, 2.4-litre all-wheel-drive D4 diesel Cross Country variant is a different matter. It officially returns 49.6mpg and emits 149g/km of CO2. You will pay £145 in tax every year. All model, of course, come with Volvo's three-year 60,000 mile warranty.

Summary

We've had four wheel drive versions of compact executive saloons for some time, but their makers have never felt the need to give these models an SUV-style look. Has Volvo been right to do just that in creating this S60 Cross Country model? Only time will tell. It's certainly offers something different in this segment and we can see some business buyers liking this car for exactly that reason. It's a little ironic that it makes most sense in 2WD guise, when fitted with Volvo's efficient 2.0-litre Drive-E engine. Perhaps though, this is a case where reason should be applied somewhat loosely to the buying decision. It's the kind of car that would be a refreshing change to yet another 3 Series or A4. On that basis, there's no reason not to try it.