Volvo’s XC60 caused quite a stir when it first launched in 2008. With sharper looks than its bigger XC90 cousin, the mid-size SUV is primarily for on-road, rather than off-road use, although AWD variants are available. A recent facelift sees a more dynamic look featuring LED rear lights and upmarket feel in the cabin, although the mechanicals have remained unchanged.
A stylish, modern and spacious interior is showcased by Volvo’s visually appealing floating centre console and Sensus infotainment system. Most of the switchgear and features are well laid out and easy to use, but some of the sat-nav directions lacked clarity and the input method isn’t as intuitive as many rivals’ touch-screen systems. Historically Volvos have always had decent sound systems and this car’s PremiumSound audio system certainly doesn’t disappoint – the 5x130W amplifier and 12 loudspeakers delivering a full bodied, clear sound.
The XC60 has a commanding and comfortable driving position, although the bulky nature of the body could do with a rear parking camera to assist when parking. Interior accommodation and comfort scores well for other occupants, too: there’s bags of head and legroom and sufficient storage areas for family paraphernalia, even if the door pockets are on the pokey side. As for luggage space? Well that’s well catered for too, thanks to a liberal 495 litre boot capacity (seats up) and a vast 1455 litres with seats lowered.
On the road:
As you’d expect of a Volvo, the XC60 comes with a brace of electronic safety systems. You feel very safe and secure once seated in the Volvo, with lots of audible bonging: from reminding you to fasten your seatbelt to other more advanced warning intervention alerts, including Lane Assist, Bliss (Blind Spot Warning System). New optional safety equipment includes Road Sign Information, Active High Beam and Tunnel Detection.
A selection of diesel engines are available. Regardless of which is chosen, all produce the same emissions (139g/km of CO2). For those less concerned about running costs, there is a range topping T6 petrol which offers near hot-hatch levels of performance.
This 163 bhp D4 isn’t that quick, but nevertheless feels adequately brisk, with the 2.0-litre 5-cylinder diesel motor having a smooth and relaxed power delivery – perfect ingredients for relaxed cruising. It might not be the smoothest of engines, sounding a bit gruff at low speeds, but its offbeat warble (when extended) is sure to bring a smile to your face. Economy of this automatic ‘Geartronic’ model does disappoint though. Expect to only return around 35-40 mpg. Manual versions fare better.
It’s fair to say that entertaining the driver may not be at the top of this car’s priorities, but cosseting all those on board most certainly is. Admittedly, you can select sport mode to tighten up the Volvo’s handling, but there’s not much point as all it really does is make the ride worse. Far better to just relax and waft along in comfort mode and appreciate the high level of refinement on offer.
Latest revisions have freshened up the appeal of Volvo’s compact SUV. Granted, it might not have the driving dynamics of some more sporty rivals, but it’s got all other bases covered: being stylish, safe, spacious, comfortable and refined.