The thing about being the favourite is that there are often people lining up waiting for you to slip. Volvo’s XC60 has been the manufacturer’s most popular model around the world since it was first launched a decade ago so it came as no surprise that the automotive world was watching keenly when the all-new second generation was unveiled.
We put the new T6 R-Design to the family test to see how it stood up to the favourite tag.
With its trademark sash grille, sleek body lines and Thor hammer LED headlights, the Volvo XC60 is a boxy delight. Shorter overhangs, a sculpted bonnet and a trendy rear end add their weight to an appealing design, one that is undoubtedly Volvo but in an undeniably modern fashion.
The interior of the XC60 takes its styling cues from its popular big brother with the XC90’s centrally positioned infotainment screen, digitised instrument panel and dashboard display setting the framework for unassuming luxury.
Fittings and fixtures show obvious quality with a penchant for brushed metal and piano black highlights. The latter add interest to a muted interior but don’t fare well with dust and fingerprints.
Volvo XC60 feels airy and roomy, helped in part by a lower belt line and tallish windows, which makes this mid-sized luxury SUV great for small families. Storage includes deep door bins, drinkholders and map pockets.
Though the boot, at 550-litres, is about 10 per cent smaller than rivals’ but is still rather useful.
In terms of standard inclusions, those niceties that add to driving pleasure, the T6 R-Design leaves little to chance. In addition to quad-zone climate control, head-up display, Nappa leather trim, keyless entry, powered tailgate and 21-inch alloys, you also get front and rear parking sensors, 360-degree camera and Volvo’s top class safety systems.
A vertical 9.0-inch colour touchscreen is the window into the XC60’s infotainment system. While it is intuitive in its selection, there are a number of functions to navigate so it does take some getting used to. It does mean that the dash is less cluttered and minimalistic although I wish the volume controls still sat outside this area.
Bluetooth connectivity is super easy and those people who can’t be parted from their smartphone screens will welcome the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto function.
ENGINES / TRANSMISSIONS
The XC60 range has diesel and petrol engines and a hybrid as well – so something for everyone. Under the hood of our T6 R-Design lived a grunty 2.0-litre with turbocharger and supercharger. It produces 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque. A confident eight-speed automatic transmission completes a trustworthy partnership.
You can’t think Volvo without safety and this XC60 exemplifies that ideal. More than that, all those goodies including Volvo’s PilotAssist system with steering assistance as standard. This, says Volvo president and CEO Hakan Samuelsson, is vital in realising Volvo’s vision that “by 2020 no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car”.
And of the safety highlights is Oncoming Lane Mitigation that uses steer assist to guide the car back into the correct lane if it detects an oncoming vehicle. There are also modern-day stalwarts like blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning and emergency City Safety braking systems.
Naturally, standard fare also includes full length curtain airbags and hill start and descent control.
Sadly, new XC60 misses out on Volvo’s inbuilt child booster seat but there are two IsoFix points and three top tethers should you have littlies in car seats.
The seats, both comfortable and supportive, can accommodate wide shoulders and long legs but will cost $500 if you want them heated.
The rear pew can take three adults if needed, the longer wheelbase translating into more room for those in the back too while high mounted front seats leave space for the feet to wriggle.
Composed, clever and confident this XC60 is a really pleasure to drive. It is easy to manoeuvre in open spaces and tight confines, has a useful turning circle and is happy to comply when a quick burst of power is needed.
The XC60 is up for most challenges and will gainfully keep its head down when pushed through corners – its bottom may hang out a bit but let’s not forget it is a SUV after all.
The R-Design features a Sports chassis with five modes (Comfort, Dynamic, Eco, Off-Road and Individual) as well as a sports steering with paddles. While paddles can enhance the motoring experience, the car itself does a superb job of selecting the appropriate gears, stumbling only very occasionally when it has to downshift quickly.
The ride itself is more than pleasant, like gliding on air if the truth be told, with the XC60 coping admirably with bumps and bruises. If we must complain, it would be about the reduced or inconsistent steering feel at low speeds but it does weight up nicely when you trouble the accelerator.
There is some road and tyre noise but not enough to prevent conversation and certainly doesn’t detract from the XC60 experience. The XC60 feels fleet under foot, the all-wheel-drive apportioning traction to the wheels that need it, offers compact power delivery and is a much more dynamic ride than the XC90.
Volvo suggests the T6 has a combined fuel use of 8.0L/100km and while we found that easy to achieve during highway driving, short trips raised our usage to around 9.5L/100km.
All new XC60s come with a three years unlimited kilometre warranty and two service programs: the basic SmartCare or SmartCare Plus for three, four or five years ranging from $2225 to $6400. Service intervals are 15,000km or 12 months.
Given its ride, inclusions and safety features, it is little wonder that the XC60 has been so well loved the world over for the last decade. This makeover with its on-trend design elements, innovative technology and real value for money simply heightens the proposition. Volvo has done itself proud.
AT A GLANCE
Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design pricing and specifications:
Price: from $76,990 (plus on-road costs)
Engine: 2.0-litre twin-charged petrol
Output: 235kW at 5500rpm and 400Nm at 2200-5400rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed auto, AWD
Fuel: 8L/100km (ADR Combined)
Warranty: Three years unlimited kilometres
Safety Rating: Five Star ANCAP
What we liked:
Spacious luxurious interior
What we didn’t:
Servicing is on expensive side
Narrow rear door openings