2015 Volvo V60 T5 - Sport Vagn Ho - Review

"Drive...He Said" sighs each time Europeans or Australians receive an elongated five-door Touring/ Estate version of some luxury sports sedan or another.

From the land of pickled herring, Henning Mankell mysteries and assemble-it-yourself furniture, Volvo has always been a notorious proponent of the station wagon.

Perhaps not since the early 1970's P1800ES three-door "Shooting Brake" has Sweden given us something as long and sleek as Sara Blomqvist's legs. The 2015 Volvo V60 compact executive sport wagon builds on an already quite coupe-y Volvo S60 sedan .

It's Hip Not to Be Square:

- About the rakish profile, high beltline/ sloping roof. It boggles the mind that "sleek" and "wagon" are being uttered at the company whose mantra once was "It's Hip to Be Square."

Sporty details: rear roof spoiler: CHECK; aluminum roof racks: CHECK; black diamond cut 19"-inch alloy wheels with low profile gumballs: CHECK.

The V60 dental work, borrowed from the S60, has gone from smirk to smile.

Loyal to Swedish Royals:

- You don't have to be King Carl XVI Gustav, to enjoy the most cossetting thrones outside of Stockholm Palace. Optional front sport buckets in the Volvo V60 are upright Tempur-pedics.

Most cabin elements are carry-overs from the S60. The minimalistic Scandinavian approach to luxury is a very business-like corner office. Make that a darkened office in our V60 tester with splashes of aluminum. Wind noise starts to build at triple digit speeds, yet the huffing engine seems far from the cabin.

Newly optional across the entire Volvo "60" series line is three-mode TFT gauge cluster. Colorful...very, informative...sure, gimmicky...slightly.

-  Volvo pioneered the space saving floating center stack. Most competitors [e.g. Buick] have heeded our panning of button cramming. However, the Steel-badged automaker remains obstinate. Only a rotary/ push controller for accessing custom driver's assist, climate and infotainment menus from the 7" LCD display saves drivers' sanity.

On the infotainment front, our mid-level V60 T5 Premier Plus was behind the tech curve. It didn't help that the Bluetooth got "hung up" downloading the contact list from our Moto X. Customers of 2015.5 models can spec Sensus Connected Touch for mobile app integration and Wi-Fi. At least the crystal clear standard 160W audio system included HD radio.

Leave Your Excesses Behind:

Sport Wagons are for shoe-horning stuff that almost did but couldn't quite fit into the sedan version. The Volvo V60 hatch area will gulp about 3 cubic feet more cargo than the S60 sedan trunk can. Once the 40/20/ 40 split seat backs are folded flat, items like larger flat panel TV's can be loaded through the low load-floor, big mouth in back. We'd gladly trade power retracting rear headrests and wing mirrors for a power liftgate, though.

Besides the requisite strap hooks, cargo tonneau, and 12V outlet, V60's clever roll-out dog protection netting dispenses with portable kennels.

V60 passenger confines, particularly in Row 2, feel confining. Leg and head-room become sparser for every inch taller than the national male average.

Cylinders Once and Twice Removed:

- Volvo's Drive-E campaign is sending all engines brandishing more than four pistons to the guillotine. Turbocharging will be the "Terror of this Reign." Top T6 models add low engine speed supercharging. Ambitious plans call for eventual electric hybridization. It's part of the pursuit of efficiency and commonality.

Missing the bark of the retiring inline-sixes, the V60 T5 Drive-E all-alloy twin-cam 2.0L gas inline-four powerplant sure has the bite. As much as 23 psi of wastegate-managed turbocharged over-boost delivers a maximum 280 pound-feet. Aisin's new 8-speed automatic transmission features a quicker torque converter lock than the previous 6-speeder. Moreover, manually shifting all 8 gears in the V60 means just that...ahem Chrysler ZF 9-speed .

The V60 T5 Drive-E cleared 60 mph in 6.5 seconds. Several bouts of exhuberant motoring netted a laudable 26 combined miles-per-gallon. That, without engaging Eco+ with the capability of drivetrain coasting.

- Drive-E's Downside: [defeatable] Start-Stop. Good for reducing higher idling emissions in congested European cities. Bad for parking the V60. Each time we pulled into a parking lot space, then attempted to back and straighten out, the V60 had to be re-started.

Pounding the Pavement:

"Chop, chop" to the engine netted lower weight over the V60 nose. Currently, Drive-E is only being rolled-out in front drive Volvos, soon to catch up to Haldex AWD models.

ABS active torque vectoring prevents the front wheels from being overwhelmed by the power in fast turns. The electric assist helm offers good heft but is light on feedback.

Sway control is the bright side of the front strut, rear multi-link suspension, in optional Sport chassis tune. Hard braking metes out some squat. When the V60 T5's normally firmly-compliant ride crashed over big frost heaves, we ruminated about the available smaller 18" Titania wheels.

Unfitting for this modern "shooting brake": a four-wheel disc brake pedal exhibiting all the firmness of Swedish meatballs.

Should Be "G"-Rated: 

- The IIHS has rated the sister Volvo S60 with "Good" marks across the board. Besides 10 airbags, City Safety laser-based front traffic collision avoidance braking is standard on all Volvos.

"V" is Swedish for "Vagn":

Our handsome Power Blue Metallic 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E, listed for $42,225. It was optioned with leather, moonroof and driving aid technologies like blind spot, lane departure and front/ rear cross traffic alert.

Making the transition from executive sports saloon to the demands of domesticity much easier.

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