Volvo's new mid-sized wagon also offers more room to go with its vroom.
Vivacious V60 offers more room with vroom With a longer wheelbase, the Volvo V60 offers a cushier ride and more legroom. PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER TAN

The first thing you notice about the new Volvo V60 is how low-slung it is, an impression that is confirmed when you sink yourself behind the wheel, and again, when you get out.

According to the specifications, the car is 52mm lower than its predecessor at 1,432mm. That makes it a mite lower than the dynamic Honda Civic Type R and a cinch on car-wash days.

It has grown substantially lengthwise, measuring 4,761mm tip to tip, or 126mm longer than before. Most of that goes to the wheelbase, which is extended by 96mm to a segment-leading 2,872mm. The rest goes to the boot, which has 529 litres of space (99 litres more than its predecessor) - again, the biggest in its class.

But side to side, it is 15mm narrower at 1,850mm, making it a tad less unwieldy on murderous carpark ramps.

Under the bonnet, the T5 variant tested here retains its turbocharged 1,969cc inline-four, but tuned to make 250hp and 350Nm. That is a bit more than the previous V60 T5, but a bit less than the Polestar-fettered car introduced three years ago.

At the helm, the car's new dimensions come to the fore. Its low centre of gravity makes it a confident mover, especially when it is called upon to sweep past fast bends. Although the body is narrower, the car's tracks are wider than before.

Cruising on highways, it is as straight as an arrow, appearing even more crisp and effortless than its predecessor.

Whatever shortcomings its extended length and wheelbase may pose, the car's all-wheel-drive system is on hand to mitigate. This front-biased system will apportion up to 50 per cent of power to the rear should things get really hairy.

Day to day, the longer wheelbase translates to a slightly cushier ride and more legroom. Flip open the motorised tailgate and you will find a flat cargo area which offers more usable stowage than, say, the Audi A4 Avant.

Flatten the rear seats and you will get 1,441 litres of stowage, or 200 litres more than before.

Door pockets, however, remain too small to be useful.

The cabin otherwise is better equipped and finished than before. You get a 9-inch infotainment touchscreen (7-inch previously). This screen is calibrated to respond to gloved fingers, so if you wish, you can choose not to leave smudges on the monitor.

The driver gets a bigger digital instrumentation panel as well (12.3-inch versus 8-inch previously), making things far more legible on the go.

A three-spoke steering wheel remains, but is now slightly chunkier. Controls for cruise control (now adaptive and with steering assist) and the infotainment system are slicker, with bigger touch areas and less clutter.

The V60 T5 has more safety features too. Its City Safety suite now detects vehicles in front, oncoming traffic, pedestrians and cyclists. Reverse cross traffic alert is also included, useful when poking the long wagon out of the driveway tail first.

Other features include blindspot detection, rear collision warning (with autonomous braking in the event of actual collision) and run-off road protection (which braces occupants for a rough tumble should the vehicle veer off the road).

So, if you want a car which is high on utility, glued to the tarmac and as protective as a mother bear, the new V60 fits the bill.