Middle of the road

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is slightly higher than the regular V60 wagon.
The Volvo V60 Cross Country is slightly higher than the regular V60 wagon. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

Volvo's V60 Cross Country offers a compromise between the dirt and the track

If you think an SUV is too rustic for you and a crossover a tad cliched, then something like the Volvo V60 Cross Country might work quite nicely.

The car sits slightly higher than the regular V60 wagon (by 65mm if you want to be precise), but loses none of the practicality, roominess or much of the dynamism of a regular V60.

The car's height is ideal for ingress and egress, as well as for loading and unloading bulky items.

A full-size SUV might be too tall (which is why some of the luxury models come with adjustable height), while a traditional wagon might be too low - especially for folks whose joints are not as supple as they used to be.

In fact, the V60 Cross Country's height is not unlike that of a compact MPV. And like most MPVs, it is a front-wheel-drive.

But calling it a V60 MPV would be unsexy. An MPV driver is dull and domesticated, whereas an SUV or crossover driver is sporty, adventurous and fun to be with.


  • Price: $195,999 with COE

    Engine: 1,969 cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift

    Power: 245bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 350Nm at 1,500-4,800rpm

    0-100kmh: 6.6 seconds

    Top speed: 210kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.8 litres/ 100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

Just so there is no mistaking the V60 Cross Country for something a dull and domesticated person might prefer, the car is fitted with front and rear skid plates, side scuff plates and fender extenders.

It also has a honey comb grille, glossy black mirror caps and Cross Country labels here and there.

To make doubly sure, Volvo has included Hill Descent Control, an electronic traction aid that helps the driver go down a steep and slippery slope.

It will probably be the most unused feature in the car.

At the wheel, the V60 Cross Country is actually quite brilliant. Its additional height gives you slightly better visibility, but at very little expense to driveability.

You certainly do not feel as detached from the tarmac as an SUV driver. And you are able to enjoy the handling and performance of a fairly muscular wagon.

The car has a meaty and communicative steering that imparts confidence at high speeds and along serpentine stretches. This is commendable for an electric power- steering.

Its ride height aside, the Volvo shares the same rigid and sporty chassis as the V60. And this is obvious from the word go.

Powered by a lusty 2-litre turbo that whips up 245bhp and 350Nm, the car is breezy when you are cruising and downright stormy when you are in a hurry.

It sits on a firm suspension that seems to have a wee bit more yield than the wagon, so ride is not compromised much.

Like many premium cars these days - whichever form they are in - the V60 Cross Country has torque vectoring and corner traction control, allowing over-exuberant drivers to take a bit more liberty with the throttle.

And like most Volvos these days, it is equipped with City Safety, which applies hard braking if a collision is imminent at up to 50kmh.

You will also find lots of other upmarket features in a cabin lined with the usual assortment of leather, aluminium and digitised displays. All that is packaged in what might qualify as a beautiful body - in any case, too beautiful to be taken off-road.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 19, 2015, with the headline 'Middle of the road'. Print Edition | Subscribe