Volvo XC60: road test
Packed with technology and safety kit, the new XC60 is a class act.
What is it?
The new Volvo XC60 is the second generation of Volvo’s mid-sized SUV. It’s a rival for other upmarket 4x4s like the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace.
How safe is it?
Volvo’s reputation for safety is well deserved and, with a long list of innovative safety features, the new XC60 should further enhance that standing.
Who should buy one?
Enthusiastic drivers can buy more exciting rivals, but this is a safe, well made and practical SUV. Low emissions make it a good choice for company car drivers.
Road test by David Motton, August 2017
DRIVING AND PERFORMANCE
The XC60 drives reasonably well, but the upmarket SUV class is packed with outstanding talent. Keen drivers will prefer a Jaguar F-Pace or Porsche Macan. Both are more agile and engaging than the XC60, which corners neatly but is short on steering feedback. The Volvo handles well enough, but never really gets under the driver’s skin.
It’s at its best with the Active Four-C Chassis, a £1,500 option on most specification levels but standard on R-Design Pro and Inscription Pro models. This uses air suspension and adaptive dampers so the car’s behaviour can be tuned to suit the road and the driver. With the suspension set to ‘comfort’ the XC60 is forgiving of poorly surfaced roads. Switch to ‘dynamic’ and the Volvo drops closer 20mm closer to the road, and the car feels noticeably sharper.
On the standard suspension the XC60 rides firmly but feels composed at speed. R-Design models – expected to be the most popular – have sports suspension, which is stiffer again. For our taste it’s too unyielding over rough roads, so we’d be inclined to pay the extra for air suspension.
Buyers have the choice of four different engines. We’ve had the chance to drive both diesels. The 187bhp D4 should take the lion’s share of sales. It performs strongly, accelerating from 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds according to Volvo’s figures. That’s quick enough for decisive overtaking, and to easily hold speed on hilly roads.
Even though the D4 will keep most driver’s happy, the 232bhp D5 is noticeably punchier. It uses what Volvo calls PowerPulse technology to inject compressed air to set the turbocharger spinning, all but eliminating the momentary pause before a turbocharged engine responds to the throttle. The D5 drops the 0-62mph time to 7.2 seconds.
Prefer petrol power? There’s a 251bhp T5, although Volvo expects the 401bhp T8 petrol-electric hybrid to be more popular.
So, the XC60 is a competent drive, but from the driver’s seat we prefer the Audi Q5 and the Jaguar F-Pace.
SPACE AND PRACTICALITY
Anyone who has driven the larger XC90 will find the XC60’s cabin has a familiar look. It’s very well made from high quality materials, dominated by the nine-inch screen of the Sensus infotainment system. The display is crisp and clear, although we found turning off traffic announcements took a lot of head-scratching and searching through menus. Some old-fashioned switches and buttons might spoil the minimalist look, but they would save time and reduce the potential for distraction.
The driving position is excellent, with a wide range of adjustment for the seat and wheel. The seat itself is supportive and comfortable.
There’s considerably more legroom in the back of the new XC60 than in the old car, and there are air vents in the door pillars to keep those travelling in the back at a comfortable temperature.
The 505-litre boot isn’t class-leading (the F-Pace has a 650-litre capacity), but the square shape means it’s easy to make the most of the available space.
The XC60 is packed with technology to help the driver avoid a collision, and should prove tough enough to protect its occupants if the worst does happen. It’s ahead of the curve in many respects – while modern cars commonly have autonomous emergency braking systems, which slow the car if the driver fails to spot a hazard, the Volvo also has Steer Assist so it can turn away from a potential collision.
The range starts with Momentum specification, which includes satnav, the nine-inch Sensus touchscreen, voice-activated control for various functions, leather seats and two-zone climate control. R-Design and R-Design Pro are the sporty models, with stiffer suspension and gearshift paddles behind the steering wheel. Inscription and Inscription Pro are the most luxurious versions, with Nappa leather upholstery, an enlarged TFT display for the driver, chrome exterior inserts and driftwood inlays in the cabin.
Prices start from £37,205 for the D4 Momentum. That compares well with the £38,035 entry-level price for the Audi Q5 and the £38,800 starting point for the new BMW X3 range. Company car drivers will enjoy low tax bills if they choose the T8 hybrid, thanks to carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of just 49g/km. The most efficient diesel is the D4, which returns 55.4mpg when riding on 18-inch alloys.
WE SAY Packed with technology and safety kit, the new XC60 is a class act.
AT A GLANCE:
Performance: 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds
Economy: 54.3mpg combined
Tax: £200 first year, then £140 standard
Figures for the D4 AWD R-Design