The Car Next Door

Why we’re crush­ing hard on the new Volvo XC60

Sharp - - CARS - By Pe­ter Saltsman

WE CAN’T STOP THINK­ING ABOUT the Volvo XC60. Truth be told, that’s mostly be­cause it’s drop-dead gor­geous. In the past cou­ple of years, Volvo has gone to great lengths — with great suc­cess — to rein­vent it­self, shift­ing its rep­u­ta­tion as the nerdy, needy car of col­lege pro­fes­sors and fam­ily doc­tors to some­thing al­most, well, sexy. The XC60 is the lat­est it­er­a­tion of that new styling di­rec­tion, and we’re in­clined to think it wears it the best. In this smaller pack­age, the de­sign ac­tu­ally works much bet­ter than in the larger 90 se­ries. It looks mas­cu­line but not cum­ber­some. It looks fast and nim­ble. It looks — un­like its big­ger brother, the XC90 — down­right graceful.

And that’s no small thing, be­cause the XC60 does ac­tu­ally have one im­por­tant su­perla­tive go­ing for it: in North Amer­ica, it’s cur­rently Volvo’s best­selling car, ac­count­ing for about 30 per cent of all the brand’s sales. No doubt you’ve seen its pre­de­ces­sor, which lasted nine model years, parked in a drive­way near you. This is quite lit­er­ally the car next door — now, fi­nally, given a She’s All That makeover.

But as with poor Laney Boggs (you all re­mem­ber ’90s ref­er­ences in de­tail, right?), we’ve come to re­ally love what’s on the in­side, too. We could com­fort­ably live in one of Volvo’s re­cent Scan­di­na­vian-in­spired in­te­ri­ors, with their muted earth tones, er­gonomic seats, and a now-sig­na­ture, sur­pris­ingly easy-touse ipad-like dis­play that puts the power to con­trol ab­so­lutely ev­ery­thing right at your fin­ger­tips. Un­der the hood, there’s Volvo’s new suite of en­gines, which the XC60 shares with the rest of the re­mod­elled 90 plat­forms: a 250-horse­power T5 tur­bocharged 2.0-litre four-cylin­der, a 316-horse­power T6 tur­bocharged and su­per­charged 2.0-litre, and a 400-hp T8 twin-engine plug-in elec­tric hy­brid, each used with an eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion. Sure, no one will mis­take the XC60 for a sports car, but it’s more than ca­pa­ble of hold­ing its own on stretches of empty road.

So no, we shouldn’t be ex­cited about this car. But damn it, we just can’t help our­selves. Never mind pin­ning a poster of one up on our bed­room wall — which we’d hap­pily do, too — we can’t wait to get a real one in our drive­way.

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