For decades, buyers have relied on the trusty station wagon to haul their families around. They were boring, but dependable. Fast forward to today where station wagons have become a niche symbol for car enthusiasts in North America, with buyers embracing all things SUV for their families’ needs. Fortunately, Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Volvo have continued to offer families with a wagon variant of their popular compact sports sedans. This week we have the opportunity to sample the 2021 Volvo V60 T8 Inscription, a beautiful rendition of the good old station wagon with a serious performance punch.
Painted in a sleek Bright Silver, the V60 T8 Inscription is classy as all Volvos are. Redesigned in 2019, the V60 shares the family styling cues found across the brand, and the ‘Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights have taken hold as the signature design for the brand. The V60 has near-perfect body proportions where the vehicle looks to be designed as a wagon, unlike some of its peers that simply look like a sedan with a tacked-on long roof. Our tester wore the optional 18-inch winter wheels wrapped with new Michelin X-Ice snow tires, which looked surprisingly good.
The V60 T8 Inscription electrifies the standard T6 powerplant (313-horsepower two-litre inline-four supercharged and turbocharged engine) with an 87-horsepower motor, making a combined 400-horsepower and a whopping 472 lb-ft. of torque that arrives as early as 2,200 RPM. Power delivery of the V60 T8 is silky smooth; it gets off the line without zero hesitation and 100 km/h arrives in as little as 4.6 seconds. The V60’s acceleration does not throw you into the back of the seat as violently as its German counterparts, but keep your right foot planted and the speedometer will quickly reach the 180 km/h top speed.
Thanks to the extra weight of the batteries located in the platform, the V60 T8 Inscription feels very planted in the corners. The 4,552-pound curb weight is evident when you turn the steering wheel, but is fine for what most will use the V60 for. The steering wheel is heavily assisted but has good accuracy and feel. There are different drive modes available for the V6 T8, with our favourite being the default ‘Hybrid’ mode where the computer determines the right balance between gasoline and electric propulsion. It manages to switch between the two power sources seamlessly and drivers can monitor usage through a clever display on the instrument cluster.
Volvo claims more than 40-kilometres of pure electric drive range, and our real-world observation came in at about 25 to 30 kilometres in dry and cold weather. The V60 T8 Inscription’s rated fuel economy is 8.4L/100km in the city, 7.0L/100km on the highway, and a combined average of 7.8L/100km. We observed a better than expected 6.0L/100km throughout our week, but it is worth noting that there is wide variance with plug-in hybrid vehicles depending on how much it’s run on electric power and how often it’s charge. Premium gas is required for the 60-litre fuel tank.
Interior design is always a point of emphasis with anything that comes out of Sweden, and you will notice the same focus applied in designing the Volvo V60 T8 Inscription. The beautiful Orrefors crystal shift knob sets the stage, and the elegant interior layout feels a class above much of the competition except BMW or Mercedes-Benz. Materials and craftsmanship are also excellent in the V60 T8 Inscription.
Volvo has long been an industry leader when it comes to seat ergonomics, and we experienced the same comfort in the V60 T8 Inscription. There is great back support and the seats are particularly suitable for long road trips. Head and legroom in the front are generous with rear occupants feeling a bit cramped, a typical trait in the segment. Cargo capacity is rated at 658-litres, and opens up to 1,441 litres with the second row folded. Those who are looking to tow with the V60 T8 can do so up to its 3,500-pound limit.
Infotainment is delivered by Volvo’s Sensus system using the large touchscreen on the centre console. It is a system that can seem convoluted at the beginning but gets easier and more intuitive as you go. The portrait-oriented layout displays four systems of information on the main screen, and smartphone users can integrate using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The optional 15-speaker Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system is one of the best sound systems in the industry, well worth its $3,750 price tag.
Volvo has always been a proponent in ensuring the safety of its occupants and those in its surroundings. It is the main reason why their vehicles have been relied upon by families and the brand has built a solid reputation around safety. The V60 T8 Inscription is well equipped with standard Frontside Collision Mitigation Support, Lane Keeping Aid, Park Assist sensors and camera, and powered child lock for the rear doors. Our tester also received Premium and Premium Plus packages with Park Assist Pilot, 360-degree camera, Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information and Cross Traffic Alert systems. These systems work well together to keep its drivers alert, but the quality of the 360-degree camera leaves much to be desired.
The 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Inscription starts at $69,400, and our as-tested sticker was $81,705 with the optional packages and paint scheme included. It finds itself sharing a niche segment with the athletic Mercedes-AMG C 43 Wagon, since Audi does not offer the more powerful engine found in the S4 in its A4 allroad quattro, and BMW is not currently offering any wagons in Canada. The V60 wins on environmental friendliness with its plug-in hybrid power source, and its overall sense of serenity; while the C 43 Wagon is the more suitable choice for car enthusiasts.
The trusty wagon is alive in 2020 and has morphed into something that is sophisticated and performance oriented for people who truly love cars. As the segment continues to shrink, we are happy to see Volvo’s commitment to offering families with a SUV-alternative, and the 2021 Volvo V60 T8 Inscription is a great choice for those seeking one.