FOR every nonagenarian who would like to feel more like a 20-year-old, there is hope.
It comes courtesy of Volvo, 90 this year yet celebrating its 20 years of all-wheel- drive cars that will go anywhere even when they don’t look like they will. Isn’t that the secret that 90-year- olds want, the agility of a 20-year-old when getting around? Speaking as a pair of 60-year- olds, we can safely say it would go down a treat for us, too!
Of course, not everyone who wants a 4×4 car necessarily also dreams of a full-fat SUV. So it’s fitting that in 1997 Volvo brought about the V70 Cross Country, which looked like a mildly fit normal V70 without the Rambo treatment of an SUV.
Naturally, Volvo succumbed in the end to bring out the XC90, thankfully was a Rambo with intelligence resulting in it climbing over just about everything else in its market segment.
At the time, Ford owned both Volvo and Land Rover and the vital unseen, but much appreciated, extra was the Volvo’s ability to be reliable and not need breakdown trucks to reach its destination.
For those likely to eschew the XC90 and maybe even the smaller XC60, Volvo makes the V60 Cross Country, a 4×4 that doesn’t look like it might be one although the extra 65mm of ground clearance and the black protective trim around the wheel arches might be a giveaway.
Discretion is almost assured but the result of the more compact dimensions is that this Volvo is not really a luxury limo for Labradors, more a dog basket for Dachshunds thanks to the mere 1,241 litres of space with the seats down and 430 litres with them in place.
Compare that with the 1,600 litres and 575 litres respectively of the V70 and your pooch will immediately see the difference. But for non-dog owners it’s not really a worry because the V60 Cross Country has many attributes, not least among them that it doesn’t fit the convention for looks.
In fact the V60 has more in common with the smaller V40 (that’s the one for Chihuahua owners) when it comes to style. None of that slabby Volvo box-on- wheels stuff here. It’s all about svelte curves, swooping loadspace styling, and a degree of prettiness that Rambo might have desired but could never achieve.
With 40 per cent of Volvo buyers taking the 4×4 direction (make that 50 per cent for the flagship 90 series models) you can appreciate the importance of the technology for the Chinese-owned but still Swedish-designed brand.
Even so, a life in the mud may not be the best thing for the V60 Cross Country or its owners. One of the problems is that the doors don’t cover the sills (a design feature of rival Saabs for donkeys’ years until Saab sadly went out to graze in the eternal years of insolvency). The result is that unless you enjoy great dexterity of movement your legs will always ensure the cars’ sills are polished and your clothes are shabby. In a car created to love a muddy environment it’s not an endearing feature!
That said, once you’re inside the V60 Cross Country it’s quite a nice place to be. The range has a starting price of £31,245, not much above Skoda Octavia levels, although the test car, a D4 Lux Nav listed at £38,025 and this was boosted by options to £45,400.
Many of the extras could have been deleted (press cars have them to demonstrate the possible rather than the essential) but the £675 winter illumination pack was vital for its heated front seats while the powered passenger seat (£400) and heated rear seats (a bargain £200) were appreciated along with the heated steering wheel (poor value at £200 when Ford can do it for £125). That heated wheel has a vital safety feature, a freezing cold metal insert to keep drivers awake during corners!
The 2.4 litre diesel engine could sound uncouth at times and its 190bhp output is hardly outstanding. But it was perfectly matched to the silky smooth six speed auto transmission. If your daily drive needs to be comfortable and to get you anywhere without too much thought involved in the process this Volvo makes a perfect choice. It even looks good, too.
Maurice and Annette Hardy
Car: Volvo V60 Cross Country D4 AWD Lux Nav
Does it fit your ego…
0-62mph: 8.9 secs
Top speed: 127mph
Bhp: 190 @ 4000rpm
Torque: 310lb ft @ 1500–3000rpm