It’s a tale of two Volvo’s this month, as a stroke of misfortune instead turned into a pretty handy experiment. With the Crystal White Volvo V60 Cross Country you see above not quite ready for delivery in time for a road trip to Devon, Volvo graciously sent a Fusion Red V60 R-Design to cover us for the holiday. With both my next long-termer and its stand-in fitted with an identical B4 diesel engine and automatic gearbox, it meant I could compare the lowest and stiffest front-wheel drive V60 with the tallest and softest iteration, which also gains four-wheel drive.
Both certainly have their merits and give the V60 an impressively broad appeal for a family estate. I can’t say red is a colour that springs to mind when I think of a Volvo, but the deep metallic hue really grew on me, contrasting nicely with the R-Design trim’s gloss black grille and exterior mouldings. It also sat very low on its attractive 19-inch rims, adding to its aggressive looks. From behind the wheel, though, I was worried just how low the V60 sat a few times, especially when Google Maps sent us along one Devonshire road most goats would think twice about. The R-Design suspension calibration is also pretty stiff, not exactly crashing into bumps thanks to its decent damping, but certainly making you well aware of their existence. To me, that just doesn’t seem very Volvo-like, but for a driver hopping out of a comparable M Sport BMW, AMG Line Mercedes-Benz or S line Audi, the V60 should feel par for the course.
I’ll go into a lot more detail about how the Cross Country drives in later reports, but needless to say, you gain 60mm of ground clearance and lose just a hint of precision with the transformation. Handling isn’t blunted too severely, but it feels like a touch more steering input is required, and it takes just a fraction of a second to settle on its outside springs as you turn into a corner. Personally, I’d take its slightly slower responses every time, because ride comfort is far better and there’s a general sense that an errant pothole won’t ruin your day.
Aside from its extra height off the ground – which really is noticeable – the main changes to the V60 Cross Country are a set of wheel arch extensions, door sills and lower bumper trims that make it look a lot more like an SUV. There’s also the excellent ‘Cross Country’ script embossed into the rear bumper, in a nod to past models. In fact, these changes, and the fact it’s a fairly rare car, means XC60 drivers often visibly give the Cross Country a double-take as it passes by.
There’s little wrong with its interior, either. Standard kit is plentiful, with features like the powered tailgate, keyless entry and leather upholstery adding to its convenience and comfort. ‘Driftwood’ inlays for the dashboard and retractable centre console covers also add a classy touch in keeping with its Swedish design. This does lead us to the elephant in the room, however, which is that the V60 Cross Country is a premium car with a fairly hefty price tag to match. As standard it came in at £41,660 when it was first registered in November 2020, but our car has more than £8k worth of options on top of that, some of which are more vital than others. This is competitive though, and actually undercuts the Audi A4 allroad quattro, which starts from £42,760.
With winter fast approaching, the V60 Cross Country feels like the perfect car to tackle the rain, wind and possibly even snow over the next few months. I’ll also have to find a reason to engage its off-road driving mode and hill descent control – both features exclusive to the Cross Country version – and possibly even its tow bar, which is neatly hidden behind the rear bumper until it’s required. More on these in a future issue.