As this column lands on your doorstep, we find ourselves in the festive month of December. I shall save all the soppy niceties until the ‘Christmas’ edition which will be with you later this month, and for now will just stick to the cars. This column centres around one of my favourite manufacturers: Volvo. More specifically, this column is aimed at the readers who have £50k-plus lying around and are looking for a family car…
I’ll start with the V60 Polestar. I drove one last year, and loved it, but the new one has lost its3.0-litre, 6-cylinder beating heart in favourite of a more ecological 2.0-litre, 4-cylinder unit. I have to admit I was a little concerned that this would kill some of the Polestar’s character. It hasn’t. Not by a long shot. Power is actually up: 367PS and 470Nm of torque. Sent to all four wheels through an 8-speed automatic gearbox, the Polestar will go from 0-62mph in 4.7 seconds, and then keep going all the way to its limited top speed of 155mph.
And whilst this may look like any other Volvo estate, look a little closer and you will see the 6-piston front brakes, and what you won’t see (but is there, I promise) is a full set of Ohlins dampers. That means the Polestar handles sublimely. Body roll is non-existent, and you have the confidence to push harder knowing the brakes and 4WD system are there to keep you on the road.
The V60 Polestar costs £50,765, and for that you get a comprehensive standard specification: keyless entry and go, heated front and outer rear seats, heated steering wheel, Harmon Kardon stereo, adaptive cruise control, blind spot monitoring, lane keeping assist and so much more. As far as family estates go, this is a perfect blend of performance and practicality: I love it.
Now if you’d prefer an SUV, then what about the new XC60? I’ve been eagerly awaiting this car for some time, and after spending a week with it I can conclude it exceeded my expectations. I hand-on-heart believe this is one of the best cars on sale today.
My test car was a top of the range Inscription Pro model, with the mighty T8 Twin Engine drivetrain. Powering the front wheels is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine, which produces 320PS and 400Nm of torque. The rear wheels are driven by an electric motor with a further 87PS. Combine the two and you have a very rapid car indeed: with 0-62mph taking just 5.3 seconds.
In all honesty though, this isn’t the engine I’d choose. You see it’s not a proper 4WD system, and 320PS is too much for the front wheels alone. Under heavy acceleration there is a tendency to understeer, and that doesn’t instil confidence. Personally I’d go for the T5 petrol. It has a decent 250PS, coupled to a proper AWD system. Job done.
The styling has been revised, and the new XC60 has a much more premium feel to it. The interior is of the same design as the likes of the S90 and XC90, and I stand by I seem my comment that short of the likes of Bentley and Rolls Royce these new generation Volvos are the best interiors on the market. The blend of materials and quality of finish is simply exquisite, and I would be choosing a car like this should I ever have to undertake a serious long-haul drive.
Prices for the XC60 start at £35,655, and rise to £57,950 for the T8 Inscription Pro. If you’re in the market for a family car, and want something a bit special, then check out the XC60.