REVIEW: Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Pro17 November 2019
The latest XC60 is a huge step forward for the Volvo brand, with vast improvements in the interior making this latest car feel hugely competitive next to rivals.
The Volvo XC60 is the middle-child of Volvo’s class-leading SUV range, sitting as it does between its larger, seven-seat XC90 and smaller, more compact XC40. Once known for its indestructible estate and saloon car building prowess, the Swedish manufacturer now offers a stylish range of family friendly premium 4x4s designed with safety and comfort in mind.
The XC60 offers cutting-edge high-end safety equipment, a luxurious cabin and a driving experience centred on tranquillity and ride comfort.
The XC60 has its own unique style, includes Volvos Thor’s hammer-style headlights, and distinctive hipped rear lights. We’ve just spent the last week road testing a R-Design Pro finished in Burst Blue.
The XC60 leads the segment with is stunning interior, it’s a masterclass in design and quality, featuring a nine-inch touchscreen in portrait orientation housed in the centre of the dash.
Every model gets leather seats, while there’s more leather elsewhere around the cabin and subtle amounts of chrome to lift things. You can choose various finishes, all with a cool Scandinavian feel to them, while the tiny Swedish flag on the driver’s seat is joined by a tiny metallic one just beneath the vent on the passenger’s side – nice little Scandi touches.
The plastics around the cabin all feel really good, too, apart from the lid of the glovebox, which is surprisingly cheap.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Volvo’s infotainment system is the nine-inch tablet-style portrait display. It’s fitted as standard and looks hi-tech, a bit like a tablet that’s been integrated into the car’s dashboard. It operates in the same way, using swipes and light touches just like your smartphone.
Whilst its sibling the XC90 has a seven-seat option the XC60 does not, but there is enough space for five to sit comfortably with ample luggage space in the boot. There’s plenty of cubby holes for storage and good size storage bins in the doors.
The XC60 offers decent interior space for driver and four passengers, with good knee, shoulder and head room in the back once you’re inside. As usual, the middle seat is very firm to sit on and a bit of a short straw, but in spite of their tiny dimensions, the rear headrests are well placed and comfortable.
There’s decent storage space for odds and ends too – a storage box between driver and passenger with a quality, sliding cover; a deep cubby between the seats and sizeable door bins as well..
Trim grades and equipment
Trim levels across the XC60 range are Momentum, R-Design and Inscription, but there’s also a Pro version of each, which adds its own suite of convenience and technology upgrade.
The entry range Momentum, is very well equipped as standard, featuring 18-inch alloy wheels, keyless entry and a powered tailgate. The 9-inch infotainment screen which includes a DAB Radio, Bluetooth and navigation is carried over from the XC90.
We tested the R-Design Pro trim, which adds sporty touches over the Momentum trim. The exterior has large wheels, dual exhaust pipes whilst the interior gains sports seats and a black headlining.
The chassis is tweaked to be sportier with firmer suspension reducing body roll and lean in the corners, which means the ride is slightly less comfortable than the Momentum trim. Our test R-Design Pro was fitted with the optional air suspension which rode exceptionally, the air suspension kept the body flat with very little roll in the corners.
Inscription is the most luxurious offering with its Nappa leather seats and ambient lighting providing a far more upmarket atmosphere inside than its predecessor could offer.
T6 engine and transmission
Volvo has moved to a new streamlined vehicle architecture that only uses 2.0-litre engines, and while they aren’t class-leading in terms of performance, they’re likely to satisfy families and business users alike. With a good blend of economy and a reasonable turn of speed, most will find any XC60 a fine all-rounder, particularly seeing as it’s equipped with four-wheel drive and a choice of manual (D4 engine only) and automatic gearboxes as standard.
In the XC60 T6 as tested, Volvo adds a supercharger to its already strong 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine for a grand total of 310hp and 400Nm of torque. That gives it spritely acceleration with satisfying power delivery, thanks to the added boost from the supercharger.
The twin-charged engine is mated to an eight-speed automatic transmission from Aisin and comes equipped with shift paddles on the steering wheel. The default settings were that suited to the engines performance that we rarely used the paddles to change gear.
On the road
The XC60's all-wheel drive system is laudable and, like the transmission, fades into the background largely unnoticed, allowing all 310 horses to grip the road with little drama when you need to join flowing traffic quickly, and it offers solid reassurance in inclement weather – much of which was experienced during the testing week.
When it comes time to haul those 310 horses to a controlled stop, the SUV's brakes supply a level of confidence with very little fade from frequent stop tests in a short period of time. Volvo has opted for comfort on the XC60 over sportiness unlike its segment rivals from BMW and Porsche.
The XC60 feels at its best on the motorway where this supreme comfort comes into its own along with the outstanding refinement. Relaxation behind the wheel is paramount, which helps to explain why there is little in the way of driver involvement.
Before is started making SUVs in 2002, Volvo was rightly famous for its load-lugging box-on-wheels estate cars. Fortunately, the XC60 wears a far more stylish and premium design, a powered tailgate comes as standard.
This does come at the cost of boot space though, which measures 505 litres to the window line, 635 litres to the roof and expands to 1,432 litres if you fold down the rear seats.
Space in the luggage compartment beats the Porsche Macan and Lexus NX, whilst the Audi Q6 and BMW X3 both have 550 litres. The Jaguar F-Pace pips them all with 650 litres available from is longer body.
Volvo is planning for zero fatalities in any of its new cars by 2020, so there are fewer safer cars in which to put your family. Volvo’s continued focus on safety means the XC60 is fitted with lots of potentially life-saving equipment as standard.
Autonomous emergency braking, lane keep assist, dual-stage airbags and traffic sign recognition are all fitted as standard, while there’s also a system called oncoming lane mitigation, which steers away from oncoming traffic to avoid a head-on collision. The Volvo put in a very impressive performance during its Euro NCAP crash test as a result, receiving a full five-star rating.
Like the XC90 and XC40, this second-generation XC60 is a huge step forward for the Volvo brand, with vast improvements in the interior making this latest car feel hugely competitive next to rivals.
Add a relaxing and comfortable driving experience and an impeccable safety record, making it a popular contender in the mid-size SUV market.