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Volvo XC60 Review

The Swedes strike all the right chords with a beautifully crafted interior, a range of powerful engines and a luxury SUV that takes everything in it’s stride.

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From £37,205

Pros:
  • Breathtaking interior quality and materials
  • Lots of torque on tap
  • Nice and quiet at low and high speeds
Cons:
  • It’s pricier than the old model
  • The F-Pace has a bigger boot
  • The tranquility and peacefulness may cause drowsiness. *clutches straws*

Introduction

Volvo’s second take at the XC60 comes at a time where every manufacturer has to make sure their SUVs are ticking every box, as the segment has grown to be ruthlessly competitive. There’s hot competition for the XC60. The new Jaguar F-Pace and BMW X5 are both incredibly agile and dynamically superior, while the Mercedes GLC and Audi Q5 both sell like hot cakes. This XC60 is of a different breed to all of the above, though, and if you don’t consider Volvo to be a ‘real premium manufacturer’ then this new XC60 will have you eating your words...

On The Road

  • Performance
  • Ride Handling
  • Refinement

Effortless. Absolutely effortless. The ‘D4’ engine is a 2.0litre diesel with 190 horsepower and a massive 400 Nm of torque. This will be the best selling engine so it’s also the engine we tested most thoroughly. The torque will whoosh the XC60 from 0-60mph in 7.9 seconds, which is certainly swift for a car of this size, but what’s most impressive is just how easy it feels. This is true also for the D5 Powerpulse unit.

The D5 is also a diesel engine, but it uses a tank of compressed air to fire oxygen into the turbo, providing high pressure and reducing turbo lag. All very geeky and technical, but it knocks over a second off the 0-60mph time, now 6.8 seconds, and takes the torque figure to a colossal 480Nm.

In terms of performance, the best is yet to come from Volvo, who will be releasing a T8 twin-engine hybrid XC60, featuring the drivetrain from the XC90 T8. That is something to get really excited about. In the T8, horsepower flies up to around 400bhp when combined with an electric motor, while acceleration drops to just 4.9 seconds on the 0-60mph run - which is berserk, simply berserk. A Volvo 4x4 with more power than a brand new Porsche 911 Carrera and quicker to 60 than a Lamborghini Countach - mental.

We tested the XC60 with and without the ‘Active Four C Chassis’ which includes adaptive dampers and air suspension - there’s very little to complain about. The air suspension certainly helps the car glide, and if you tick that £1,500 box you also get the option to fine-tune how firm or floaty you want the suspension. On the other hand, buyers won’t feel short-changed with the standard suspension, which does a very good job taking the sting out of speed bumps and potholes, particularly with the smaller 18” alloys.

On the road the XC60 isn’t exactly engaging. It’s not a car that begs you to give it hell in the bends, but it’s not trying to be, buy an F-Pace if you want that. The XC60 sits flat, composed and confident in the corners - just as an SUV of this calibre should - and it will throw you out the other side with real urgency thanks to the massive amounts of torque.

Feedback through the leather steering wheel is minimal. You won’t be able to feel every inch of tarmac when you’re pushing on, but the car is predictable and it’s easy enough to put the car just where you want it. In short - it’s a really lovely car to drive and soak up miles in, and the air suspension will be of interest to people particularly in rural areas.

The cabin of the XC60 is simply endearing. The interior is gorgeous, as I’ll touch on in the ‘Behind The Wheel’ section, and this is compounded by the tranquility which exists when you put your foot down. For a big car, you’d expect more wind noise, but the windows (which open and close in a weirdly satisfying manner) do well to exclude the riff-raff.

I often judge levels of refinement in sensory metrics. How does it feel when you click the seatbelt in? Do the doors feel sturdy when they’re shut? Are the control buttons dampened? Are there any mysterious rattles when from in the cabin when you drive over rough terrain? Happily, I can confirm the XC60 passes all of my obsessive tests with flying colours. Even down to the tiny Swedish flag subtly engraved on the dashboard, you can tell that this car was built with scientific levels of precision and attention to detail.

In The Car

  • Behind the Wheel
  • Space & Practicality

Entry level ‘Momentum’ spec cars come well equipped, but the ‘Momentum Pro’, which sits between entry-level and mid-level, will have buyers laughing at those who felt obliged to splash out on the R-Design and Inscription models. You’ve got a full leather interior, Sat Nav, rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate, keyless entry and cruise control all as standard in the Momentum spec - that’s lovely and generous. Ours was loaded with the Xenium pack, which means you get a full 360 degree camera, semi-autonomous parallel and bay parking and a massive sunroof which tilts and slides. Only the most demanding of customers will need to explore the higher trim levels.

Elsewhere, you’ve got a fantastic 9 inch touchscreen which has been derived from the XC90. This unit seamlessly operates the infotainment, navigation, climate control and just about everything else you’d ever need from your car. Best of all, the layout is intuitive and cooperative, which means less time spent with your eyes off the road ahead, as every tap at the touch screen registers and the menus are well thought out.

It wouldn’t be a proper Volvo review without mentioning the seats. Guess what? They’re still absolutely marvellous. Electric adjustment is always a welcomed addition and it won’t take long to find the perfect fit for you.

Stepping inside the XC60 is a slightly surreal experience. The design is undeniably minimalist and Scandinavian which really complements the character of the XC60. Headroom is aplenty as Volvo seems to have bucked the trend by refusing to compromise cabin space with a sloping roofline. Wise. Legroom is also facilitating due to carefully designed front seats which don’t steal too much of the real estate in the back. 5 adults would have no trouble comfortably being whisked around in the XC60.

Activate the standard-fit electric tailgate and you’ll find 505 litres of luggage space, only slightly less than the Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC but the difference is negligible. Fold down the rear seats and luggage capacity inflates to a healthy 1,432 litres.

Ownership

  • Running Costs
  • Quality & Reliability
  • Safety & Security

Right, the boring facts and figures that you all need to know. Only the D4 Diesel and T5 Petrol are available under the £40,000 mark in R-Design (or lower) spec. The D4 will cost £200 for the first year of tax and the T5 will cost £500. Buying a car spec’d in R-Design Pro or above will cost over £40,000 so you’ll have to pay the £140 flat rate after the first year and an extra £310 ‘supplement’ each year for five years. A bit crippling, yes, but that’s how VED works now, and buyers looking at this price bracket will have to put up with similar costs from all other manufacturers.

MPG talk: the popular D4 engine will give you up to 55mpg on the combined cycle, while the more powerful D5 will return 51.4mpg. Both of these are there or thereabouts in comparison with the rest of the market. The T5 Petrol is a little bit thirsty by modern standards, returning just 39mpg, but that’s not too bad for a non-hybrid petrol car of this size.

Then, the headline ‘T8’ model. This unit will return up to a claimed 134.5mpg thanks to the hybrid twin-engine. Accordingly, first year tax sits at a cool £0, but because the car is in excess of £40,000 then there is a premium down the line as buyers will have to fork out the £310 supplement fee between the cars 1st and 5th birthday, on top of the standard annual rate of £130 for hybrid cars.

The fit and finish of the car is absolutely spot-on, they’ve really done a thorough job with the XC60 and the most minute details certainly add to the sense that this is a car from the top of the market. My personal favourite feature is the wooden dash which looks beautifully crafted and just oozes class. We did take the Inscription Pro (top of the range) model out for a spin and some of the features are rather extravagant, but few are really necessary. I did enjoy receiving a back massage from the front seats, but I could probably live without it. There are also lots of lights. Footwell lights, tailgate lights, side step lights, mood lights and even cup holder lights. All very posh and pleasant and will certainly impress those who value these sort of luxuries.

I was pleased with the standard sound equipment too, which provided wholesome and crisp audio throughout the cabin, with the balance being adjustable through the touch screen. Volvo might have shot themselves in the foot though, because the standard audio equipment is good enough that buyers needn’t bother splashing £2,500 on the Bowers and Wilkins surround sound which is optional on every level, including the Inscription Pro which starts at £44,650.

Safety is now a trait synonymous with Volvo in the automotive sphere. Their target of having zero fatalities in Volvo cars by 2020 is an objective the manufacturer is evidently striving towards achieving. This XC60 is built like a tank with significant structural integrity and bags of safety tech. The XC60 will steer you back into your lane if you try merging into an object in your blind spot. Pilot Assist is included in the City Safety pack which will accelerate, brake and steer for you at speeds of up to 80mph. As the car reduces speed when you approach slower moving traffic, all you need to do is flick the indicator and the XC60 will scan your blind spot and then do the overtaking for you. It’s marvellous.

The car will also assist in regaining the car's balance and grip if you’re forced to swerve out the way of a pedestrian, animal or cyclist.

It appears the XC60 is yet to be tried on the Euro NCAP tests, but it will get 5 Stars, guaranteed, I’ll put my house on it.

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