Volvo XC60 B6

 

    I know, I’ve said it before: If only every car manufacturer made seats like Volvo does. After what quickly became a 12-hour day after a poor night’s sleep, spent at The Goodwood 78th Member’s Meeting, the soft leather front seats of Volvo’s latest version of their XC60 were a very welcome site indeed - and especially-so with the seat heaters set to their maximum. By the time, we’d slithered our way out of the Sussex circuit’s deviously slick car park – a combination of wet grass created by an unexpected early morning cloudburst and South Down’s chalk-dust, enough to test any SUV’s all-wheel drive pretentions – we were cosier and comfier than we’d been all day. I’d even switched the heated steering wheel on - just to take the chill of, you understand.

      Having spent what was a chilly day watching the world’s best drivers dice wheel to wheel, plus demonstration runs of the new Gordon Murray Automotive T50 supercar, and the ex-Ayrton Senna McLaren Mp4/6 - driven by his nephew Bruno, no less -  there was a definite contrast to then indulging in the Scandi-chic serenity of the XC60’s cabin. The doors shut with a well-engineered thunk, the dash and door-tops are clad in thick soft-touch materials - that heated steering wheel rim is covered wonderfully tactile leather - and the (albeit £1,750 optional) Bowers and Wilkins surround sound Hi-Fi system meant the last of radio Goodwood’s punditry could be heard as if the commentators themselves were sat on the back seat. The drive back to our Midhurst B&B could not have been more cosseting. Volvo build their heaters to cope with Scandinavian winters – we were cosy to say the least

       And there perhaps lies the XC60s trump card. There’s nothing overtly sporting about the way this premium and 5-seater only midsize SUV drives; there are no paddle-shifters for the 8-speed gearbox, and Volvo have done away with the selectable drive modes – few owners ever switched to Sport apparently – although an off-road mode remains. The XC60 is all about comfort; it’s a quiet and competent cruiser. There is a little bit of roll when you push it into corner, that gearbox can be a tad hesitant sometimes and clearly is in no mood to rush and the steering lack the directness of other, so-called, Sports err.. Sports Utility Vehicles. If setting your own lap records is your thing, buy a Porsche Macan or a perhaps another of the XC60’s Germanic contemporaries instead.

     That’s not say that the XC60 feels in any way lethargic, or that it lacks agility. It just feels, and makes you feel, a little bit more laid-back than say, a BMW X5 or an Alfa Romeo Stelvio would. In fact, the XC60 B6 that took us to Sussex and back is capable, should you require such things, of dashing from 0-62mph in a whisker over 6 seconds. That’s surely quick enough?

      And that, I suppose in a roundabout way, brings me around to explaining what that B6 suffix actually means…

     Where you could once have your petrol powered XC60 in either T5 or T6 trim, your choice now is B5 or B6 instead. Both four-cylinder units utilise a new 48-volt mild-hybrid system and an integrated starter-generator. Pick the B5 and you will get 247 horsepower and 258 pound-feet of torque, that’s slightly less power and the same amount of torque as before. The B6 on the other hand, produces 295bhp and 310 lb-ft, which is actually a drop, when compare to the T6, of 15bhp. But you do get 15 more lb-ft. The integrated starter generator provides a boost of 13hp and 30lb-ft in both engines, and apparently fills in power gaps at lower speeds whilst simultaneously boosting mpg by, wait for it… approximately 1mpg.

   If there is one thing I would criticise about the XC60 B6, it is its thirst: 34mpg on a good run, and with a light load and a prevailing wind, is not exactly headline news. Another niggle is the ride: on British B-road pockmarked tarmac, the combination of our R-design’s large alloy wheel rims and low profile tyres endowed the XC60 a very un-Volvo-like firmness. Fortunately, smoother motorway surfaces eased such things.

     Praise on the other hand must go to Volvo’s Google Maps equipped 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system, it’s simple to use, beautifully clear, and doesn’t require an hour or two’s familiarisation time before setting off. If only had Volvo chosen not to fit a big plastic button for the radio rather than a chunky, knurled aluminium one – that would’ve made it (for this very particular critic) near perfect.

    The XC60 is not perhaps car that is going to stir your soul in the same way that something wearing the same badge as a classic racer might (think Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Audi, et-al). And let’s face it, it’s more Sloane Ranger, than it is rufty-tufty off-roader. Nevertheless, the XC60’s combination of, style, quality, and of course safety - a Volvo trademark if ever there was one - mean it’s still more than capable of holding its position amongst the best.

 

Volvo XC60 B6 AWD R-Design Pro

Engine: 1,969cc 4Cyl 16V turbocharged, petrol

Transmission: 8-speed Auto, Four wheel drive.

Power:   295 bhp @ 5,400 rpm

Torque: 310 lbft @ 2,100 – 4,800 rpm

0-62 MPH: 6.2 Sec

Max Speed: 112 mph

CO2: 190-213 g/km (WLTP min – max)

mpg 30.0 – 34.0 (WLTP min – max)

Price: from £55,135 (as tested £59,570).

 

Many thanks to Joe at Volvo’s UK press office for the loan of the XC60

@bird_liam

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Liam Bird Liam Bird

I'm Liam Bird, a freelance Motoring Writer based in the South Shropshire Marches. I currently write car reviews and road tests for a number of regional lifestyle magazines and newspapers which are distributed throughout Cheshire, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Staffordshire, Worcestershire, most of Wales and beyond.

As a member of the Welsh Group of Motoring Writers I'm as happy behind the wheel of a super-mini as I am in the latest super-car. I have press accreditation with most of the major motor manufacturers, meaning that as well as always being on the look out for further commissions, I always have a number of cars arriving each month ready to review.

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