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.