I GREW UP in a time when British Touring Car racing was hugely popular and certain races were even televised here in SA. You had the likes of BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 Quattros, Renault Lagunas, Ford Mondeos, Vauxhall Cavaliers, Nissan Primeras, Peugeot 406s and Honda Accords. It was a great series with bumping, bashing and wheel-to-wheel action at every race, but undoubtedly the best action occurred when a blue and white Volvo hearse, ensconced in 850 logos would shoot up the inside of the lead car and then set the pace, the cars behind not sure whether they were in a race or a funeral procession. With this memory firmly etched in my brain, I took delivery of what could be a natural successor to the super-hearse of the ’90s – the Volvo V60 T6 with Polestar software.
With power in the region of 250kW, R-Design bumpers and body kit, dual tail pipes, Geartronic auto transmission, bucket-style seats plus a built-in trailer, the V60 met all the requirements I could ever ask for when it comes to performance, practicality and looks. I received the V60 six months into its tenure at topCar when previous custodian Calvin Fisher ceded it to me in favour of a long-term VW Passat, but to this day he glances at the V60 and yearns for the power of the dark side. The V60 was by then well run in and actually getting quite close to its annual service as the on-board computer kept asking me to ‘book time for maintenance’.
The local Volvo dealer offered me a service spot the following day, so I dropped off the car at 10am, let the manager know that I thought maybe the Polestar software was over-fuelling a tad as the tail pipes were starting to stain black, and my average consumption was around the 14ℓ/100km mark. At 4pm the car was ready with no issues, the diagnostics revealing that the Polestar software was operating just fine and I may need to back off the throttle if I want to continue paying my mortgage – even with fuel having just dropped 30-odd cents a litre.
Settling behind the wheel of the V60 was a cinch, and I can honestly say the only buttons I touch on the central console are the temperature settings for the climate control, otherwise the set-up of everything else is brilliantly automated. The moment I prod the start button, my ’phone has connected with all my contacts listed and searchable, the seats are memory adjusted and the audio system remembers where I last stopped in my play list. Then again, I think Volvo could really make the facia and trim feel more premium by plastering it in leather rather than the black rubber and cloth that adorns this V60.
Once on the move, the soundtrack of the turbo V6 gets me going, the straight line prowess of the V60 is fantastic to take in, and you can munch horizons in no time on the long road. Throw it into a corner and it’s no kart but it is more involving to drive than Volvos of the past, with good steering feedback that is, however, lacking a little feel when holding onto a bend. The ride can be harsh on less than perfect roads thanks to 18-inch wheels shod with low-profile tyres, but the suspension smoothes out matters once you hit the open road where the V60 feels more at home.
So would Volvo racing legend Rickard Rydell be pleased with this as his 850 race-hearse replacement? Probably, if the likes of Tom Walkinshaw was still around to handle the transition. But for now, he would be satisfied with this mile-munching, fuel-station visiting, eye-catching and practical wagon.