Volvo XC60 R-Design

   Quite where the line is drawn between what makes an SUV an SUV, and what constitutes a crossover these days is hard to determine, but what can’t be argued is the fact that we car-buyers love ‘em – and especially so if they’re considered “premium”.

   At the time a writing, and just a couple of weeks after their glitzy unveilings at The Frankfurt Motorshow, I can name at least another half-dozen that are set to come to showrooms in the coming few months. And with this market sector predicted to grow by another 20% over the next five years you can bet there’ll be more. Everyone seems to want to be in on this particular act.

    It’s into this ever-busier fray that Volvo have recently introduced their new and very handsome looking  XC60.

   The previous generation XC60 was a more than just a bit of a hit: It was Volvo’s best-selling car, and the bestselling car of its type in Europe. Needless to say then the new one has big, and being a crossover (or is it an SUV?), slightly muddy tyre-tracks to fill. It also faces some stiff – no sporty suspension puns intended – and predominately Germanic competition from the likes of Audi’s Q5, BMW’s X3, and Mercedes Benz’s GLC. Then of course there’s Jaguar’s F-pace, and Alfa Romeo’s new Stelvio might turn a few previous XC60 owner’s heads too. Or at least that’s what the Italians are hoping.

    Whereas it could be said that that aforementioned line-up verge towards a more involving and driver oriented feel (hence my hinting at stiff springing) the XC60 goes for a far more laid-back, comfort-orientated - Scandinavian you could say - approach to its driving dymanics. If setting new Nurburgring lap-times is your thing stop reading now; go and buy Porsche’s Macan instead. The XC60 is far too relaxed for such things.

    Those for whom there’s a necessity to seat seven should look elsewhere too: The XC60 is strictly a five-seater – abeit a rather spacious one.

    It’s based like many a modern Volvo on the Gothenberg-based manufacturer’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform and thus benefits from the same  powertrains, suspension, seats, and interior operating systems as the beautifully stylish XC90 and the capacious, extremely capable, and equally chic V90. It’s a shortening of the wheelbase, and a narrowing of track, plus no doubt some other tinkerings, that have created the XC60’s underpinnings.

   Four-wheel drive is available on every model as standard, as is an automatic gearbox. And as always with modern Volvos, power comes from either a T5 four-cylinder petrol, a four cylinder diesel in either D4 or D5 guise, or their T8 petrol-electric Hybrid System. Power ranges from 190bhp  –  to a whopping 407 bhp. Volvo also claim you can buy an XC60 with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km.

    Volvo lent us a their XC60 D5 PowerPulse R-design – and very nice it was too. But then so it should be at £43,205 with another £12,775 having been spent on options on top of that (suddenly that Macan doesn’t seem quite so expensive does it?). Panoramic sunroof? That’s £2000. Head-up display? £750. Bowers and Wilkins excellent hi-fi £2,500, plus another £100 for the CD player. Metallic paint – surely a necessity in the leafer parts of Surrey? £650. It all mounts up.

    What can’t be argued about however is just how solidly built and safe the XC60 feels. Doors shut with a resounding thunk and the seats are superb, cupping you firmly and yet very comfortably in place. There’s a also a whole raft of safety systems to prevent you from crashing including ones that can take control of the car’s speed and steering in order to guide it away from potentially dangerous situations, such as drifting into oncoming traffic or pulling out in front of a car in your blind spot.

    Every XC60 also gets pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection integrated within the autonomous emergency braking, plus road edge detection to reduce the chances of the car inadvertently leaving the road. The parking cameras are also superb. Never mind Volvo’s claim that no-one should ever crash one of their cars, no-one should ever scratch one either at this rate.

   But don’t go thinking the XC60 drives like a tank. The snappily titled PowerPulse is a canister that stores a reserve of high-pressure air that’s released into the inlet when you floor the accelerator. As a result the 235 bhp D5 hits 62mph in 7.2 seconds. It’s no slouch. If only the steering was as quick, but at least our car’s optional adaptive damping kept everything, and everyone, in check.

    As you might have guessed, it’s quite hard to be really passionate about the XC60 but it is a very lovely thing in which spend time and travel nonetheless. Keener drivers might be left a little wanting when it comes to involvement behind the wheel, but the XC60’s raison-d’etre really lies elsewhere. Few if any can beat its mix of quality and safety. As a family all-rounder and for the next generation it’s definitely one of the best.


Volvo XC60 D5 PowerPulse AWD R-Design

Engine: 1,969cc 4Cyl 16V turbo diesel

Transmission: 8 speed Auto, Four wheel drive.

Power:  253 bhp @ 4,000 rpm

Torque: 354 lbft @ 1750 – 2,500 rpm

0-62 MPH: 7.2 Sec

Max Speed: 137 mph

CO2: 144 g/km

MPG: 51.4 combined

Price: from £43,205 (as tested £55,980).


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



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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