Volvo XC60 Review: Hunky Scandinavian
by Sue Baker
The first of a new wave of Volvos has hit the streets, and there is a lot more coming to revitalise the range this year.
Scandinavia is famed for its cool contemporary style, and the crowds who flock to Ikea for home furnishings confirm its eye-pleasing popularity here.
Swedish cars exude the same chic elegance, as well as being famed for their pioneering safety, and although it’s sad that Saab is long since defunct, Volvo continues to fly the Swedish flag on the world’s roads with pride.
A very busy year lies ahead for Volvo, making good use of investment by its Chinese parent company Geely, which also owns Britain’s iconic black cab manufacturer the London Electric Vehicle Company. There are five new Volvo models coming this year, to strengthen a range that is in the throes of major refreshment.
New model tsunami
A new XC40 is imminent, to expand Volvo’s existing range of SUVs. Also on the way are a new S40, S60, V60 estate car and V60 Cross Country. Meanwhile, the new XC60 is the first of the new-breed Volvos, and it promises to be a big seller.
The XC60 range is entirely all-wheel-drive, and the line-up kicks off with a D4 diesel as the 188 bhp base model. There is also a 251 bhp T5 turbocharged petrol, and a range-topping T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in hybrid that packs a 401 bhp power punch. Prices are from £37,205 for a D4 Momentum, to £57,950 for a T8 Inscription Pro.
Our test car is the higher performance diesel, the five-cylinder D5, which is mid-range at £47,205, although options bump that up to over £51,000. They includes a winter pack with heated front screen and steering wheel, automatic parking, and a fabulous 360-degree surround camera system that lets you see every edge all around the car.
SUVs have mushroomed in popularity, not least for their high-riding seats and elevated driving position that gives such a commanding view of the road. This is immediately evident in the XC60, even though the car’s height is slightly lower than its predecessor, but with a bit more ground clearance. The result is a car that now looks a little sleeker in silhouette.
It has lovely touches inside, especially the chic little jewel-cut rotary ignition switch, that incidentally has been borrowed as a feature in the new electric London taxi. The cab has other ‘Swenglish’ touches too, shared from Volvo.
The XC60’s cabin is all Scandinavian cool elegance, high quality and easy to use. It looks good and is pleasingly tactile, with a large vertical tablet-style touch-screen that dominates the dash. The control system isn’t as swift-responding or convenient to use, though, as the best systems now installed in rival models by other manufacturers, and so is a bit of an Achilles’ heel.
With its D5 diesel engine, the XC60 is a responsive performer with strong acceleration, and a brisk 6.8 seconds stopwatch time form 0-62 mph. The eight-speed auto transmission has a slick action that does its job unobtrusively. The car’s steering is not especially tactile, which tends to be a feature of some SUVs.
For its size and bulk, the XC60 feels quite nimble, hangs on to the bends with secure precision and doesn’t lean unduly. It has a nice, solidly planted feel on a twisty back road. The compromise is a bit of jostle and bump over a coarse road surface as you skiddadle over Britain’s all-too-frequent rural potholes.
The car is nicely refined though, with mechanical noise mostly well suppressed and not much wind noise over the XC60’s shapely body. As the first of a new wave of Volvos, it’s mostly a pretty good start.
Volvo XC60 Stats Review
Model tested: XC60 D5 PowerPlus AWD R-Design Auto
Top speed: 137 mph
0-62 mph: 6.8 secs
Economy: 51.4 mpg
CO2: 144 g/km
Images: Sue Baker
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