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Volvo XC60

Rafay Ansar

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Summary

Combining off-road toughness and practicality with coupe styling and driving characteristics doesn't sound like an obvious mix, but that's exactly what Volvo has aimed to do with the XC60 - an alternative to cars like the Land Rover Freelander and BMW X3. It's certainly very stylish with a less boxy and bulky look than the larger XC90, but it's designed to also be spacious and family-friendly. On the road it doesn't handle like an off-roader, with good body control while the ride quality is excellent, making it a superb long distance machine. There are three engines available, including the punchy D5 diesel (although this is fairly noisy and not as refined as newer diesels) while all cars get all-wheel drive as standard. The XC60 is also the safest car Volvo has ever made and all models get City Safety technology - designed to prevent low speed impacts.

Performance



There are three engines in the XC60 range but the sole petrol – a 3.0-litre T6 – will be least popular as its fuel consumption is just 24mpg while CO2 emissions of 284g/km of CO2 make it expensive to tax. The engine is smooth and powerful, with 285bhp on tap, plus the XC60 reaches 60mph in just 7.1 seconds. But it's the diesels which make far more sense. The entry-level unit is a 163bhp 2.4-litre which, when mated to the six-speed manual gearbox, delivers a 0-60mph time of 10 seconds, while the D5 diesel is actually the same 2.4-litre, five-cylinder diesel engine, but has been tweaked to produce 185bhp plus more pulling power. As a result it manages the 0-60mph benchmark in nine seconds while returning 40mpg (with the manual gearbox). The only gripe is that it can be a little vocal and isn't as smooth as similar-powered diesel engines from other premium manufacturers. A six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission is available as an optional extra and suits the refined nature of the XC60. However, while it offers smooth changes it can sometimes be hesitant to kickdown and isn't suited to more demanding driving.

Handling



Volvo describes the XC60 as coupe-like to drive but, while there's no doubting that it is better than many smaller off roaders, it's perhaps not as sporty as the firm makes out. Body roll is kept well in check through corners and grip levels are good while the all-wheel drive system means traction is excellent, especially out of slow corners or roundabouts. But the steering, though well-weighted, lacks feel and can be a little slow - in corners it requires more lock than you'd expect of a supposedly sporty car. That's not to say the XC60 can't cope with twisting roads and it certainly doesn't feel like a 4x4 to drive. An optional active suspension system called Four-C is available, which alters the ride settings between comfort, advanced and sport. The standard traction control (DSTC) can be specified with a trailer stability assist function (TSA) which steps in if it detects snaking or swaying caused by a trailer or caravan.

Comfort





The XC60 offers a good blend of ride and handling and makes an incredibly comfortable cross-country cruiser. The suspension does a great job in absorbing potholes and bumps in the road surface, even at higher speeds, which makes for a refined ride. There's minimal wind or road noise and the seats are wonderfully comfortable. Passengers in the back get good head and legroom and all cars come with electronic climate control as standard. Unlike larger off roaders the XC60 doesn't wallow in corners - or pitch and dive under hard acceleration or braking.

Practicality



It may be stylish but the XC60 isn't a case of form over function. It's got a generous boot with 495 litres of space available (under the parcel shelf) with the seats up. The rear seats split 40/20/40 and fold down flat so it's easy to carry large objects while the boot itself is very wide and has no load lip making loading and unloading straightforward. An electrically operated tailgate is available as an option but it's quite slow and as the tailgate is light enough to close easy there seems little point paying extra for it. Up front there's plenty of storage thanks to a good-sized glovebox and central cubby, plus there's stowage behind the central console. The door pockets aren't especially large though.

Equipment

The XC60 comes in three trim levels - S, SE and SE Lux. The entry-level S model comes with electronic climate control, electric windows, cruise control, cloth upholstery, rear spoiler, front fog lights, roof rails, 17-inch alloy wheels, City Safety, a lockable load floor, leather steering wheel with remote audio controls and a performance sound system with an auxiliary input and CD player. The SE adds hill descent control, electrically adjustable drivers seat, power folding mirrors and rain sensitive wipers. The top of the range SE Lux goes further with an electrically adjustable passenger seat, heated front seats, leather upholstery, luxury floor mats, active headlights, rear parking sensors and 18-inch alloys.

Behind the wheel



The XC60 is unmistakably a Volvo and the same can be said of the interior. There’s a genuine sense of style thanks to the neat design, which is dominated by the trademark floating centre console that flows seamlessly into the central cubby. This is angled towards the driver and all the controls are well placed and easy to navigate, particularly the funky chrome ventilation buttons that glow green at night. The minimalist Scandinavian design is easy on the eye and certainly unique, while build quality is exceptional. The driving position is good and from behind the wheel the XC60 doesn't feel like an off roader - while the raised position means a great view of the road ahead.

Safety

The XC60 is the safest car Volvo has ever built and all models come with City Safety as standard. This is active up to speeds of 19mph and if the vehicle in front brakes suddenly (and the system deems a collision is likely) it primes the brakes - if the driver remains inactive the car applies the brakes automatically. When the speed difference between the two cars is less than 9mph then City Safety may help avoid a collision. Between 9mph and 19mph the focus is on reducing the impact and any potential damage or injuries. Six airbags are standard along with DSTC stability control, electronic brakeforce distribution, brake assist, whiplash protection and roll stability control. Trailer stability assist (TSA) is an option which works with the stability control to prevent a trailer from snaking. Other system available include a blind spot warning function and lane departure warning.

Reliability

Volvo has a strong reputation for reliability and the three engines used in the XC60 have all been well-proven in other Volvo models. The interior is particularly robust and should stand up to plenty of abuse.
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