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.
Unlike the predictable looking Audi Q5 and Mercedes GLC, the XC60 cuts a real dash, with Thor’s hammer-style headlights, swept-back windshield and distinctive rear lights.
We spent much of last week in the XC60 T6 AWD variant, presented in R-Design Pro trim and finished in ‘Burst Blue’…
From an interior design and quality point of view, the XC60 leads the class. This is another stunning Volvo interior, dominated, as usual, by a large nine-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen 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.
The XC60 lacks the XC90’s seven-seat option, but there’s still enough space for five to be comfy with decent luggage room, too. The modern cabin design is also practical, with plenty of storage cubbies in the front and good door bins, so you’ll be able to stow your possessions easily.
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, too.
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 upgrades. From the range-entry Momentum, the XC60 is a very well equipped SUV, with highlights including the nine-inch portrait infotainment screen from the XC90, DAB radio, Bluetooth, navigation, 18-inch alloy wheels, a powered tailgate and keyless entry.
R-Design Pro trim as tested adds a sporty accent, with exterior and interior styling upgrades such as larger wheels, dual exhaust pipes, sports seats and a black interior headlining, while firmer suspension lessens the extent that the XC60 leans in corners. However, it makes for a slightly less comfortable ride without adding greatly to driver enjoyment.
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 connected to an excellent Aisin-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission with shift paddles that, to be honest, we barely used, simply because the default transmission mapping is perfectly suited to the engine’s performance.
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 feel on point with very little fade experienced during frequent testing.
Unlike certain rivals from Porsche and BMW, which favour sportiness, it’s immediately obvious that Volvo has prioritised comfort with the XC60. Our test car rode on optional air suspension and the ride was exceptional, with very little body roll experienced in the corners.
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. 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 row two.
Space behind the rear seats just manages to beat the Porsche Macan and Lexus NX, but both the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 have 550 litres and the longer Jaguar F-Pace has 650 litres. A powered tailgate is fitted as standard
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, and the XC60 makes a fantastic case for itself in the mid-size SUV market. Besides, every driveway needs a little Scandi style, don’t you think?
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