Volvo D3

AutoTrader NZ
Published 3 September 2020

I’d love to say this model has a three-cylinder engine – indeed, Volvo’s usual naming convention would dictate that – but it doesn’t. The D3 has a five-cylinder turbo-diesel 2.0-litre that pumps out an impressive 400Nm. Combined economy is 6.0 litres per 100km.

Even more impressive is the price. This front-drive machine costs $71,990 in V60 form. Volvo may not have the brand appeal of its German rivals, but if you can find an Audi A4 Avant or BMW 3-series Touring that offers anything like that combination of performance, value and style for the money your maths needs work.

I think the D3 is all the more appealing because it doesn’t fall into the trap of trying too hard. It’s not supposed to be luxurious like an Audi or super-sporty like a BMW. It’s just a good-looking wagon from a left-of-centre brand that ticks a lot of boxes for not a lot of money. At least in relative premium-brand terms.

It’s not all-wheel drive like the previous V60 D5, so don’t expect to claw your way out of wet corners or scythe up to the snow without chains. But the V60 remains a nicely balanced machine and in D3 form, on modest 17-inch alloys, rides as well as you’d expect a Volvo wagon to. The D3 has a conventional automatic transmission rather than the PowerShift dual-clutch gearbox of the T4 and T5 models, but it’s smooth and obviously doesn’t hurt fuel economy.

The cabin benefits from the same outstanding quality as other S60/V60 models, and it’s not what you’d call sparse. Safety is still a core value for Volvo and the V60 has the City Safety system that will automatically prevent the car from hitting a vehicle in front, at up to 15km/h.

There’s more where that came from, although you have to pay extra. The likes of adaptive cruise control with auto-brake or blind-spot warning are worthy additions to the car but still on the options list for this entry-level model.

The V60 D3 is a truly sensible choice. It’s also a clear choice in a range that’s getting ever-more-complex. At least we know that this is the entry-level, high-value model. What to make of Volvo’s T4, T5 and T6 V60 models might have to be a matter for much further study…