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Volvo D3


Just because it has an odd name, doesn't mean it's an odd car. In fact, Volvo's inexplicably badged V60 D3 is one of the more sensible European (well, the marque is owned by the Chinese now) wagons around.

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…

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