Having tested the last Volvo XC60, I thought it was rather stylish. But once you have seen the new model, the outgoing car looks suddenly dated. The new design is a credit to Volvo, and a recent Car Buyer put Volvo at the top of the list for manufacturers with the best-looking model line-ups.
In R-Design guise the Volvo XC60 is particularly sporty and aggressive. The bodykit has sharp lines, particularly at the front corners. A huge, textured grille is imposing as you stand in front of the car. Signature ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights are instantly recognisable as Volvo.
On the R-Design Pro the wheels are a two-tone 21-inch design(as opposed to the 19-inch wheels of the standard R-Design). They fill the arches nicely and give the XC60 some serious kerb appeal. With the optional Bursting Blue metallic paint our test car turned heads and passed the ‘shop window reflection test’ with flying colours.
The grille surround, window surround, roof rails and wing mirrors are finished in a satin silver, which looks more premium than a standard chrome. Also premium is the privacy glass to rear windows.
At the back, a subtle roof spoiler and shark fin aerial are minimalistic. The LED rear lights are also a unique design, and you have to see them in the dusk to really appreciate the design work that’s gone into them. Twin exhausts complete a well-rounded exterior package.
As you can see from the picture gallery, the Volvo XC60 looks great from every angle. And there aren’t too many cars you can say that about.
The interiors of the new generation Volvos are, to put it simply, some of the best of any car currently on sale. The Volvo XC60 is no exception to this.
The materials are very high quality; there isn’t a scratchy plastic to be found anywhere. Moreover, the build quality is of the highest order. No squeaks. No rattling trim. It’s exactly what you would expect from a premium brand.
The R-Design has a sporty flair to its interior. At the centre are the Contour Sports seats: wonderfully sculpted and finished in leather and alcantara. The chunky steering wheel is finished in a luxurious, perforated leather, as is the gear knob. On the ‘Pro’ the dashboard is also trimmed in leather: a simple yet wonderfully-luxurious touch.
Your eyes are immediately drawn to the 9-inch touch screen in the centre of the dashboard. With its portrait orientation it has a tablet feel to it, furthered by the side-to-side swiping motion to access different menus.
The instrument cluster is a 12.3-inch full TFT display, with several customisation options. You can have a map in the middle of the dials, and also choose from several design themes for the dials themselves.
Everyone who sat in the Volvo XC60 was impressed with it, and understandably so. It’s a nice place to be, and you can’t ask for more than that.
When you read that the engine powering this large SUV is only 2.0-litres in capacity, it is understandable that some people will be underwhelmed. Fear not though, because it packs a mighty punch. Power is 254PS and 350Nm. It is only available with an 8-speed Geartronic automatic and all-wheel drive.
The performance figures make for an interesting read. The 0-62mph sprint takes 6.8 seconds. Top speed is 137mph. Forget ‘SUV’: those figures rival hot hatches such as the Peugeot 208 GTi and Ford Fiesta ST. So the Volvo XC60 is certainly no slouch.
Whilst I will always miss the 5-cylinder warble synonymous with Volvo’s of yesteryear, the new engines still have character. It’s also nice that the only noise you get on the motorway is a bit of wind noise from those big wing mirrors. The engine is unobtrusive, sitting quietly under the bonnet but springing into life when you plant your right foot into the carpet.
The 8-speed Geartronic gearbox keeps the revs to a minimum on the motorway. When attached to a diesel engine, it’s fantastic. But in the T5 petrol, I have to admit it felt a little bit clunky. It’s certainly no match for a VW-Audi Group DSG that’s for sure.
Because the Volvo XC60 has such an aggressive, sporty image, it is important that it has the drive to match. The Four-C chassis, featured as standard on the ‘Pro’, is brilliant. With four-corner air suspension and adaptive damping, the XC60 can adapt to different driving styles to offer a perfect ride, whatever you may be doing.
In comfort settings, the damping is soft, and forgiving. Potholes are dealt with well, which is a credit to a car sat on 21-inch alloy wheels. On the motorway the Volvo XC60 is relaxing; the perfect companion for a long slog.
When you choose the ‘Dynamic’ setting, the car hunkers down, and the damping stiffens. This minimises body roll and improves cornering stability. And you can really tell the difference.
The steering force is variable. Whilst it isn’t the most communicative, the weighty feel is enough to give a sporty feel. Turn in is sharp enough, and the all-wheel drive system ensures the maximum power reaches the road. Braking force is also variable, and in the ‘Dynamic’ setting pull up well; giving you confidence to brake later.
There are gear shift paddles mounted behind the steering wheel, and the R-Design Pro features a head-up display. This means you can keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, immersing you in the driving experience. So much so, in fact, that at times you can forget you’re in an SUV at all: the Volvo XC60 T5 is just a big hot hatch.
Volvo has invested a lot of time and money in creating a new breed of engines that are smaller and more efficient, whilst still maintaining the level of power and performance one expects from a luxury brand.
Take the 2.0-litre T5 in our test car. 250PS allows for punchy performance, but the 8-speed Geartronic gearbox, start stop technology and variable drive modes mean it’s reasonably economical too.
Sure, the diesel D5 (also a 2.0-litre) will offer better fuel consumption on a longer run. It’s also a couple of grand more expensive, and the price of diesel is higher at the moment.
The T5 will do 37.8mpg on the combined cycle. For a large, all-wheel drive SUV you can’t really complain at that. CO2 emissions of 173g/km result in a first year road tax of £830, which is absorbed into the ‘on the road price’. Subsequent years’ VED is £140, with the five year ‘expensive car’ surcharge taking it to £450 a year
All rivals will be in excess of £40,000 so will have the same VED rate, and most offer similar fuel consumption on equivalent models.
It’s all too easy to forget than any SUV should, by its very nature, be practical. And it’s also easy to forget that not all of them are. Some are too large and impossible to park. Others aren’t actually spacious at all. And an increasing number are two-wheel drive, meaning they are as useful in adverse weather as a canoe in the Sahara.
Happily, and you may be starting to see the theme emerging now, the Volvo XC60 is just right.
It is a damn sight smaller than the mighty XC90, which means it fits in supermarket car parks and you aren’t constantly breathing in whenever you drive through a typical village. But it is still big enough to house 4 or 5 adults in comfort. The boot can take a decent amount of luggage too; as I found when loading ours for a trip to Center Parcs (the only time the kitchen sink has ever been required for a weekend away).
The Volvo XC60 is also packed full of safety and driver assistance technology. It’s definitely comforting to know that you and your family are in one. In fact, the Volvo XC60 was declared the safest ‘Large SUV’ in the Euro NCAP ratings, which is great to know.
With the optional Xenium pack (£2,000) you get a 360-degree camera and Park Assist Pilot – automatic parallel and perpendicular parking. Whilst the XC60 is a nice size to park anyway, this just makes life even easier. The camera system also allows you to keep an eye on kerbs at the side, and the front camera helps see out of blind junctions.
Some manufacturers opt for a ‘fixed’ specification: you get X with this grade and Y with this grade; take your pick. Hyundai and Kia are a good example. Others choose a more ‘up to you’ approach: here’s a whopping list of options, have as many or as few as you like. BMW and Audi, I’m looking at you.
The Volvo approach is somewhere in the middle. The basic specification on the Volvo XC60 range is good, especially in the safety and driver assistance departments. Each variant adds a few more creature comforts, but there are still a few optional extras if you want a little bit more.
All variants come with all-wheel drive, automatic LED headlights, a power tailgate, heated front seats, City Safety with steering support, Driver Alert Control with Lane Keeping Aid, Emergency Brake Assist, 9-inch ‘tablet-style’ infotainment touchscreen, 12.3-inch TFT digital instrument cluster and front and rear park assist.
The R-Design specification is the sporty choice. The major differences are the exterior styling kit, Contour Sports Seats, perforated leather steering wheel and gear knob, a black headlining and trademark satin silver wing mirrors. The R-Design also has a sports chassis: lower and firmer suspension for better cornering ability.
By opting for the R-Design ‘Pro’ you get some extra goodies. On the outside, 21-inch alloy wheels give some serious kerb appeal. The aqua blades and steering wheel are heated. Keyless entry and drive, a power driver’s seat with memory function and a leather dashboard provide extra convenience and quality. The ‘Pro’ also gets the aforementioned Four-C chassis as standard.
Value For Money
The starting price of a Volvo XC60 T5 R-Design Pro is £46,385. Admittedly, this is a big figure. But it has to be said that the equipment list on this car is substantial. Furthermore, the build quality and finish is of the highest order.
There were some options on my test car that wouldn’t be what I’d call ‘essential’. The £2,500 Bowers and Wilkins stereo is an audible delight, but if it were my money I don’t know if I could tick that box. Likewise a spare wheel and jack that costs £500 seems a little steep. I’d take the standard inflation kit instead.
So how does the price point of the Volvo XC60 compare to its rivals? Well if you spec up an Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace or even a Mercedes GLC to match the R-Design Pro, then you will find that the Volvo is actually competitively priced.
Over the last few months there have been some really good lease deals on the XC60, making it much more affordable than competitors. How the residuals will compare in the medium term is yet to be seen, but a high-specification car like the Volvo XC60 should hold value well.
An important factor in a car’s value for money is how you feel when you spend time with it. Does it feel like a £50k car? And with the XC60, the answer is an astounding yes. Volvo’s biggest challenge is getting people to consider their cars. Anyone who stepped into the XC60 was thoroughly impressed.
There was, however, a reoccurring theme of “Volvo wouldn’t have been on my radar”. So my message to you BMW and Mercedes drivers: go and try a Volvo!
Facts and Figures
|Engine||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged petrol|
|Max power||254PS at 5,500rpm|
|Max torque||350Nm at 1,800rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox, all-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||60 litres|
|Fuel consumption||37.8mpg, combined cycle|
|Towing capacity||2,400kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||505 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£53,985|