Herald Sun - Motoring - - First Drive -

THE XC60 is per­haps the first Volvo all­wheel-drive in re­cent mem­ory that you could se­ri­ously call sporty. For a large, heavy wagon, that is say­ing some­thing. Volvo has learned valu­able lessons from BMW and man­aged to give the XC60 a dis­tinctly sporty on-road per­son­al­ity.

Ev­ery­thing from the dampers and anti-roll bars to the sus­pen­sion bushes and ge­om­e­try are tuned for a more in­volv­ing feel.

De­spite us­ing the same un­der­pin­nings as the S80 and V70 and Ford’s Mon­deo, the XC60 ben­e­fits from fur­ther fi­ness­ing that re­sults in a well-sorted chas­sis.

The ride on su­per-smooth Euro­pean roads is good. Han­dling is neu­tral and pre­dictable and there’s a sense of sprite­li­ness in T6 guise that be­lies the wagon’s weight.

But all those safety sys­tems and high­strength steel come at a price — paid in weight. The D5 auto tips the scales at 1842kg, mak­ing it 32kg heav­ier than the XC70 D5 but 187kg lighter than the XC90 D5. The petrol T6 is 1901kg.

Hardly sur­pris­ing then that the gruff five­cylin­der diesel is a slow starter off the line, though per­for­mance feels more ur­gent once the diesel is rolling.

The 3.0-litre six is our pick. It is smooth, quiet and ac­cel­er­ates rapidly to free­way speed. Throw a few twisty moun­tain cor­ners at the XC60 and you’ll be pleas­antly sur­prised. There’s no hint of the wal­low­ing or steer­ing vague­ness that’s felt in the XC90 or XC70.

The over­all driv­ing ex­pe­ri­ence is some­thing we’ve not seen in a re­cent Volvo off-roader. It will chal­lenge the per­cep­tion that the Swedes build safe but dy­nam­i­cally dull cars, and we sus­pect quite a few XC70 buy­ers — and even some XC90 buy­ers — will pre­fer the XC60 purely for its dy­nam­ics.

At any speed it is ex­tremely re­fined, with su­perb seats and a quiet cabin, apart from some wind noise around the wing mir­rors.

Vis­i­bil­ity is also good de­spite the shal­low glasshouse. Volvo has man­aged to give the XC60 strength without re­sort­ing to thick pil­lars that ob­scure vi­sion.

Like all Volvo wag­ons, it has a prac­ti­cal boot and the 40/20/40 split seat­backs add to the car’s ver­sa­til­ity.

The XC60 also ticks all the right boxes when it comes to looks.

Lively: the ride in the XC60 is good with pre­dictable han­dling and a sense of sprite­li­ness.

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