Co­cooned with class

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

THIS could be the safest car in Aus­tralian show­rooms this year. Volvo says its XC60 is the best on the safety front, and it’s hard to de­bate that point with a com­pany that has built safety into its cars since 1927.

But there is even bet­ter news on the XC60. Volvo has of­ten built big boxes to carry its airbags and seat­belts, but its new SUV is stylish, comfortable and car-like in the way it drives.

It picks up from the funky lit­tle C30 coupe and pow­ers the com­pany for­ward on al­most ev­ery front, from de­sign and qual­ity to com­fort and safety.

It even has a sys­tem to stop you rearend­ing an­other car in stop-start city traf­fic, the most com­mon type of crash, and it is stan­dard on ev­ery car.

But most shop­pers will want to know only how the XC60 scores against the pres­tige SUV bench­marks, the BMW X3 and com­ing Audi Q5.

It is far ahead of the X3, but we’ll have to wait for the Q5. It won’t be in show­rooms un­til next month.

The XC60 is priced from $57,950 in three mod­els, up to the flag­ship T6 at $64,950. The bot­tom line will drop in the third quar­ter of this year when an X6 3.2 ar­rives at an es­ti­mated $56,000, just be­low the lux­ury-car tax thresh­old.

Power for the XC60 comes from a 136kW D5 tur­bod­iesel or a 210kW tur­bocharged petrol six. Volvo claims 8.3 litres/100km fuel use for the diesel and a 7.5-sec­ond 0-100km/h time for the petrol mo­tor.

The XC60 has a mid-sized body with space for five and lug­gage. The com­pany claims it is a cross­over be­tween a four-door coupe and a wagon.

It also says it has the largest load open­ing in the tail, as well as mul­ti­move­ment seats that can turn it into a gi­ant sin­gle-seat load car­rier.

Its Haldex all-wheel-drive sys­tem works on de­mand. Drive can be as much as 95 per cent to the front wheels on bi­tu­men and up to 50 per cent to the rear on low-grip sur­faces. Sus­pen­sion is fully in­de­pen­dent. Brakes are anti-skid four­wheel discs.

As you would ex­pect, the XC60 is loaded with safety equip­ment, in­clud­ing the stan­dard City Safety pack­age, six airbags, ac­tive head re­straints and sta­bil­ity con­trol.

An ex­tra-cost Drive As­sist Pack gives lane-de­par­ture warn­ings, and there’s adap­tive cruise con­trol and blind-spot warn­ings.

The XC60 is well fit­ted with kit, from leather seats and CD sound to al­loy wheels and air­con­di­tion­ing.

An op­tional Teknik Pack of­fers sat­nav, rev­ers­ing cam­era, ac­tive bixenon lamps and Blue­tooth con­nec­tion.

The XC60 slides in along­side the XC90 seven-seater, which is now Volvo’s best seller here and cru­cial to the com­pany. A lot of peo­ple are looking at pres­tige SUVs and the Swedish com­pany knows it must suc­ceed.

It is aim­ing for 80 to 100 sales a month. Most buy­ers will go for the loaded T6 petrol car at the start.

‘‘We’re ex­pect­ing about a 12 per cent drop in the mar­ket this year and across our range, but the XC60 should take us back up to the same sales level as last year,’’ Volvo Cars Aus­tralia head Alan Des­selss says.

‘‘It’s well equipped and the qual­ity is there. When you com­pare it to a BMW X3 or a Land Rover Free­lander, the qual­ity is su­perb.’’

No longer just a box: Volvo’s new pres­tige SUV, the stylish XC60, is loaded with safety gear, in­clud­ing six airbags, ac­tive head re­straints and sta­bil­ity con­trol.

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