Volvo V60 Cross CountryVolvo believes the crossover estate sector, which it claims to have created in 1997 with the V70 Cross Country, is set for growth as compact SUV buyers begin to look for alternatives. 

V60 product line manager Stefan Sallqvist said the compact SUV sector has expanded significantly in recent years and “buyers are now looking for spin-offs.”

He spoke as the firm revealed the new V60 Cross Country at the 2014 LA Motor Show; the US is a key market for the new car, where it will be exclusively sold for the next 12 months, but Sallqvist says this market receptiveness is not restricted to North America.

Indeed, he added, the V60 Cross Country, rather than the XC60, may become the compact Volvo choice of those who do actually use their cars as intended – that’s for light off-road use such as driving on roads where snowploughs haven’t been, or across slippery mountain tracks to find a new mountain bike trail.

“More Cross Country buyers use the rugged all-wheel drive capabilities of their cars than XC60 buyers – this is why we have to make sure it has strong capabilities off the highway.” Cars such as this can’t simply be estate cars with SUV-look body cladding.

The broadening of the sector, coupled with this capability of the V60 Cross Country, means Sallqvist is ambitious on sales. “We expect it will soon take 20% of our model mix.”

V60 Cross Country: based on the the XC70

Surprisingly, the V60 Cross Country does not simply add four-wheel drive capability to the V60 platform, but actually uses the mechanical hardware from the larger Volvo XC70.

While this sounds a very expensive reengineering solution, Sallqvist insists it was actually rather expedient, thanks to the modularity between the two cars. “It was easy to share the components.”

The V60 Cross Country should thus be equipped with surprisingly accomplished rough road abilities, which Volvo has capitalised on with a 65mm increase in ride height. “This take ground clearance up to 201mm – that’s the same range as an Audi Q5.”

It means the V60 Cross Country will have more than 40mm ground clearance than a Toyota RAV4 SUV.

Volvo has retuned the XC70 suspension tune to make it a bit sportier, but Sallqvist says the larger 18-inch and 19-inch wheels that the new mechanical underpinnings allow it to fit are there for comfort and off-road protection, not low-profile directness. “The tyres have tall sidewalls which is very good for ride comfort and isolation.”

A comfortable, luxurious feel was a design goal for the V60 Cross Country. “We sell lots of R-Design V60 but buyers do want an alternative and are increasingly receptive to rich-look interiors such as this.”