It's win-win for Volvo's bold new image
Volvo can do no wrong, reinventing its image with desirable models such as the award-winning XC60 mid-range SUV, says motoring editor Andy Russell.
Volvo’s on a winning streak – the XC60 SUV has won both UK and now world car of the year, XC40 the European title and Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson was voted world car person.
Forget the old jokes about Volvo drivers, these new models appeal to younger drivers with a new sense of style, technology and the brand’s tradition for safety.
Looks and image
The XC60 is Volvo’s best-seller, and Europe’s most popular compact premium SUV, while this second-generation evolves the look, it benefits from major advances under the skin.
Built on Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture platform, which underpins the larger XC90 seven-seat SUV, S90 saloon and V90 estate, it is geared to electrified powertrains and allows next-generation, high-end technology.
It’s bigger than the old XC60, making room for a smaller XC40, and classier with ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED daytime running lights and a tasteful design that shuns bling and plastic body cladding and wheelarch protectors.
Under the bonnet
Ahead of the next stage of electrification, there are 2.0-litre, four-cylinder turbo petrol and diesel engines, as well as a plug-in Twin Engine turbo, supercharged petrol/electric high-performance hybrid.
The big seller is the entry 190hp D4 diesel with strong low-down pull and enough performance for most driver’s needs, especially in dynamic driving mode.
It is now also available with a six-speed manual gearbox which has a smooth, precise shift but a very high clutch action so I’d go for the eight-speed automatic.
The engine is unobtrusive unless worked hard but is never gruff. Mixed driving returned around 40mpg.
How it drives
Volvo has nailed the ride and handling combination. It’s not the most entertaining SUV but makes decent progress, neat and tidy through corners with good steering feel and little body roll which inspires confidence, along with the grippy reassurance of all-wheel drive.
Where is excels is on ride quality. The standard coil springs cushion passengers from the discomfort of rough surfaces without leaving the driver devoid of any feedback. Entry-level Momentum model is also testimony to the benefits of smaller alloy wheels and deeper tyres which help soak up bumps.
Space and comfort
When it comes to family duties, the XC60 delivers. There’s no clever sliding seats just loads of leg and headroom, even for tall adults, in the tasteful cabin. Three across the back seat is not a squeeze but the middle passenger straddles a transmission tunnel.
The boxy 505-litre boot isn’t short of luggage space but, being an SUV, the floor is high but the load sill is flush so it’s easy to slide loads in and out. Fold the 60/40 split rear backs flat and it grows to 1,432 litres but they are heavy to lift up again. The cabin is also loaded with storage space.
The XC60 is also very quiet with little tyre and engine noise but there’s some wind noise around the back end.
And if you feel the cold, you won’t with the wonderfully efficient heater.
At the wheel
Like the sumptuous cabin quality, Volvo’s fascias are some of the best, combining a stylish, minimalist look thanks to the excellent Sensus tablet-like nine-inch touchscreen to control vehicle functions and settings. If you’ve got a smartphone, you’ll soon be swiping through the menu screens with everything at your fingertips.
Instruments are a model of efficiency, and higher-spec models get a bigger 12.3in active display – it’s a £375 option on Momentum.
It may be the entry model but Momentum includes sat-nav with full European mapping, voice control, safety systems to brake automatically and steer to avoid collisions and guide the car back to the right side of the road, LED headlights, auto high beam, two-zone climate control, power tailgate, leather seats, heated front seats and 18in alloy wheels.
In a motoring world where the SUV is king, the XC60 is a great all-rounder and every car you need in terms of space and versatility – if you need seven seats there’s the bigger XC90. Volvo’s on a roll and can do no wrong as it reinvents its range, image and desirability.
SPEC AND TECH
Price: XC60 D4 AWD Momentum £37,770 (range to £59,770)
Engine: 1,969cc, 190hp, four-cylinder turbo diesel with six-speed manual gearbox
Performance: 0-62mph 8.8 seconds; top speed 127mph
MPG: urban 44.8; extra urban 60.1; combined 53.3
CO2 emissions: 139g/km
Benefit-in-kind tax rate: 31pc
Insurance group: (out of 50) 31
Warranty: Three years or 60,000 miles
Will it fit in the garage? L 4,688mm; W (including door mirrors) 2,117mm; H 1,658mm