VOLVO XC60: basking in the Swede smell of success

1410320_201094_Volvo_XC60_front_3_4_drivingTHEY say you’re safer in a modern day Volvo than going for a walk with the Green Cross Code man.

In fact the only injury you could conceivably incur is banging your head on the rear opening tailgate of the latest XC60 – but you’d have to be the world’s tallest man because it opens high and well out of the way of normal mortals.

This is a car that has to rank among the most family-friendly and superbly finished of vehicles, and a shoe in for anyone who wants to buy into Volvo’s enviable safety reputation but doesn’t feel the need to go full out with its bigger XC90 stablemate.

1410321_201093_Volvo_XC60_rear_drivingIn fact, the overall quality is probably the most noticeable feature as you slip into your seat, which is positioned at the ideal height for ease of entry.

There is just nothing at all shoddy about the way the Volvo is put together. Everything shuts with a reassuring clunk and the dash area, seat covering and plastics used all exude one thing – quality.

When it comes to comfort, it has few peers, and that comfort extends not just from the supportive seats but to the amount of space that each of the five passengers has to themselves.

We’ll skip over the safety points for the moment and pay tribute to the super smooth ride that soak up the bumps in a way you wouldn’t expect a sports utility vehicle like this to be able to achieve. There’s very little that can upset its limo-like progress.

Sitting proudly in the middle of the dash is Volvo’s big SENSUS infotainment screen, in portrait rather than landscape form, housing all your necessary information at the touch of the screen.

1410318_201092_Volvo_XC60_rear_3_4You’re vaguely aware of a faint rumble from the hugely impressive all-aluminium 2.0 diesel engine as you accelerate but as with everything else on this car it’s well subdued and you’re left simply to marvel at just how well this relatively large car moves down the road. The Volvo developed and built Drive-E powertrain uses advanced injection and boosting technology to make it impressively powerful yet still very efficient.

235PS is a decent amount by today’s standards but it’s the 480Nm of torque that comes in low down at 1750rpm that is eye-popping and gives the Volvo its get up and go. Stamp on the throttle hard and it gives the impression that it’s got up and gone – very adequate acceleration indeed.

It’s the first Volvo to come with Steer Assist, which can automatically apply the steering or provide additional steering input in an emergency to help avoid a potential collision.

All versions are all wheel drive with an automatic gearbox, and you can pick from D4 and D5 diesels, a T5 petrol and a petrol-electric T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. Power ranges from 190 to 407hp, with emissions as low as 49g/km.

1361123_205054_The_new_Volvo_XC60How’s this for a safety feature, along with all the others you’ll find in a modern day Volvo? It has Run-off road protection, which automatically tightens the front seat belts should the car leave the road, and the front seat frames have a collapsible section which reduces vertical forces to help prevent spinal injuries. Uber safety.

Volvo’s erstwhile reputation as the manufacturer of spacious vehicles with the aerodynamic qualities of a breeze block took a severe dent when the XC90 arrived.

Now, with this more compact but equally stylish smaller stablemate, that reputation has been banished forever.

FOR: the best premium mid size SUV around?
AGAINST: very little

FASTFACTS: Volvo XC60 D5 PowerPulse AWD R-Design; £43,205; 1969cc diesel, 235hp, 480Nm; eight speed automatic gearbox; top speed 137mph, 0-62mph 7.2secs; fuel – urban 46.3, extra urban 54.3, combined 51.4; CO2 144g/km; will it fit the garage? 4688/2117/1658 (l/w/h); three year/60,000 mile warranty.

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