Volvo XC60 D5 AWD In­scrip­tion Geartronic

Does the ef­fort­less so­phis­ti­ca­tion of Volvo’s XC90 trans­late to its shrunken sib­ling?

Car (South Africa) - - CREDITS -

IF the su­perbly re­fined XC90 was the starter course at the ta­ble of the re­vived Volvo brand, with the svelte S90 and V90 act­ing as in­trigu­ing side dishes, the new XC60 should be viewed as a main course both in terms of sub­stance and sig­nif­i­cance for this re­ju­ve­nated Swedish man­u­fac­turer.

In­deed, while the cur­rent XC60 has en­joyed rel­a­tive suc­cess in the South African mar­ket (com­pet­ing for sales hon­ours with the V40 range), in Europe the com­pany’s best­selling model has reg­u­larly led sales charts in this com­pet­i­tive seg­ment. So pop­u­lar has the out­go­ing XC60 been that Volvo has seen an­nual sales vol­umes grow through each an­niver­sary of the ve­hi­cle’s nine-year life­cy­cle, peak­ing in its fi­nal year of pro­duc­tion.

In­stantly recog­nis­able as a mem­ber of the svelte, mod­ern Volvo fam­ily, the XC60 shares the same scal­able SPA plat­form as the XC90, ad­justed ac­cord­ingly to fit in nicely among the BMW X3, Mercedes-benz GLC and Audi Q5. Sixty-one mil­lime­tres longer and 11 mm wider, yet 55 mm lower than the model it re­places, the new ver­sion is 262 mm shorter yet only 106 mm nar­rower than its big brother.

Com­ple­ment­ing the stretched stance over the out­go­ing XC60 is a 90 mm in­crease in wheel­base. The com­bi­na­tion of th­ese two mea­sure­ments en­sures both a gen­er­ous amount of rearpas­sen­ger legroom (with am­ple head­room as a bonus) and class­com­pa­ra­ble lug­gage vol­umes. A neat touch is the in­clu­sion of out-of-sight, tablet-sized stor­age pock­ets be­low the rearseat cush­ions.

While the XC60 in­tro­duces a sub­tle head­lamp re­design com­pared with that of the XC90 (the smaller car in­cor­po­rates larger, brighter run­ning lights), it’s the rear of the new model that of­fers the big­gest dis­tinc­tion

over its larger sib­ling. Brak­ing from tra­di­tion, thin hor­i­zon­tal sec­tions have been added to the fam­ily-fa­mil­iar ver­ti­cal tail­lamp lay­out, mak­ing the rear of the XC60 ap­pear some­what more com­pact than it ac­tu­ally is.

Just as the grace­fully penned ex­te­rior lines of its lat­est prod­ucts have high­lighted the re­newed vigour in the Volvo brand, so too have care­fully thought out and im­pec­ca­bly in­stalled in­te­rior treat­ments rein­tro­duced Swedish crafts­man­ship to the au­to­mo­tive world. I’ve said it be­fore, but I al­ways feel as though I should be bet­ter dressed when driv­ing one of Volvo’s new­est of­fer­ings, and the same ap­plies to the new XC60.

While the light-coloured fin­ishes on our in­ter­na­tional test units (in­clud­ing the leather up­hol­stery and dash-mounted drift­wood) would not be a prac­ti­cal se­lec­tion, they high­light the at­ten­tion to de­tail that has been paid to fit, finish and feel.

Up­dated for its ap­pli­ca­tion in the XC60, Volvo’s im­pres­sive Sen­sus Con­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem in­cludes sim­pli­fied menus and slightly larger fonts com­pared with ear­lier ver­sions.

Just as Volvo hap­pily con­cedes it was a con­scious de­ci­sion to make the XC90’S dynamic char­ac­ter err on the side of com­fort, on the in­ter­na­tional launch it high­lighted the ef­forts made to grant the XC60 a sure­footed, con­fi­dence-in­spir­ing de­meanour.

While all sus­pen­sion com­po­nen­try has been car­ried over from the larger car, its in­clu­sion in a more com­pact pack­age goes some way to giv­ing the XC60 a more pur­pose­ful turn-in and bal­anced mid-cor­ner poise. That said, while the steer­ing setup has been ad­justed for sharper off-cen­tre re­sponse, it re­mains a some­what un­nat­u­ral feel­ing to thread such an oth­er­wise ef­fort­lessly re­fined pack­age at speed through a set of cor­ners. In­stead, fit­ted as our test units were with op­tional air sus­pen­sion, the XC60 im­pressed with a ride qual­ity not eas­ily trou­bled by mi­nor road im­per­fec­tions, with just enough dynamic abil­ity to land you in trou­ble with

clock­wise from right Scal­able SPA plat­form has been ad­justed to ac­com­mo­date XC60’S more com­pact di­men­sions com­pared with XC90; all lo­cal mod­els will be of­fered with a dig­i­tal in­stru­ment clus­ter with dif­fer­ent graphics themes; high-end au­dio sys­tems will be op­tions, in­clud­ing one by long-time Volvo col­lab­o­ra­tor Bow­ers & Wilkins; im­pres­sive at­ten­tion to de­tail. op­po­site hor­i­zon­tal tail­lamp sec­tions of­fer fur­ther dis­tinc­tion over big-brother XC90. your spouse. Should the mood take you, the XC60 will also be of­fered in R-de­sign spec­i­fi­ca­tion (to­gether with Mo­men­tum and In­scrip­tion), which will in­clude the fit­ment of up to 22-inch-sized al­loy wheels for cus­tomers wish­ing to add sharp­ness to the pack­age.

With the hy­brid-pow­ered 300 kw T8 model still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for South Africa, four en­gine op­tions will be avail­able at launch. Mated with an Aisin­sourced eight-speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion and Borgwarner all-wheel-drive sys­tem, it was the 173 kw D5 – har­ness­ing the com­pany’s turbo-lag-negat­ing Pow­er­pulse tech­nol­ogy – that im­pressed most over the course of our launch pro­gramme. While the 235 kw T6 de­liv­ers ad­mirable per­for­mance and ef­fort­less high­way cruis­ing abil­ity, it can sound flus­tered when asked to push on. That said, the low lev­els of noise, vi­bra­tion and harsh­ness are oth­er­wise classlead­ing.

In­stead of the T6 unit, it’s the im­pres­sively re­fined, more pow­er­ful of the two tur­bod­iesel mills that feels best suited to the XC60 pack­age. The bonus is a claimed fuel-con­sump­tion fig­ure of just 5,5 L/100 km.

While Volvo stops short of of­fer­ing steer­ing-wheel-mounted pad­dles with which to stir up the oth­er­wise re­spon­sive trans­mis­sion, an in­di­vid­ual drive mode af­fords the keener driver the op­por­tu­nity to iso­late this self-shifter into a sportier, more re­spon­sive set­ting. Dynamic mode, in turn, sharp­ens all associated mod­ules.

Fur­ther to the com­pany’s goal of zero fa­tal­i­ties by 2020 among oc­cu­pants while they’re in one of its cars, the XC60 features new tech aimed at keep­ing its pas­sen­gers safe. Th­ese in­clude new steer­ing-as­sist func­tions linked with both blind-spot lane changes and City Safe col­li­sion avoid­ance, as well as a new on­com­ing traf­fic-avoid­ance sys­tem that is able to steer the ve­hi­cle back into the cor­rect lane should it reg­is­ter the po­ten­tial of a head-on col­li­sion.

Ul­ti­mately, the new XC60 main­tains the mo­men­tum (and rep­u­ta­tion) in terms of per­ceived build qual­ity and ac­com­pa­ny­ing sense of oc­ca­sion es­tab­lished by the greater 90-se­ries range and looks set to po­si­tion Volvo right among the top play­ers in this al­limpor­tant seg­ment.

What I like about this smaller of­fer­ing are the im­proved over­all dy­nam­ics that aren’t as wafty as those of the larger mem­bers of the fam­ily. How­ever, what I ap­pre­ci­ate most is the XC60’S over­rid­ing sense of re­laxed com­po­sure, no mat­ter which of its five drive modes (in­clud­ing eco, dynamic and off-road) is se­lected. With no badge-re­lated pres­sure to be either par­tic­u­larly adept off-road or a scorch­ing lap timer, the most im­por­tant Volvo has been freed to set its own lofty stan­dards.

The mostly Ger­manic ri­vals in this cat­e­gory will be pleased to hear the XC60 is sched­uled to ar­rive in South Africa too late to be con­sid­ered for our 2017 Top 12 Best Buys awards is­sue. Once it gets here though, po­ten­tial buyers will find it en­cour­ag­ing that Volvo seems de­ter­mined to trans­late the stan­dards set by its larger of­fer­ings through to its smaller (yet bet­ter-sell­ing) mod­els, in­clud­ing the highly an­tic­i­pated XC40 and other 40-se­ries mod­els.

clock­wise from top XC60’S in­te­rior lay­out mir­rors the de­sign de­buted in the larger XC90, in­clud­ing an up­dated Sen­sus Con­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem (bot­tom row, mid­dle); rear pas­sen­ger com­fort is im­pres­sive; the front seats, mean­while, are typ­i­cally Volvo su­perb.

The XC60 im­pressed with a ride qual­ity not eas­ily trou­bled by road im­per­fec­tions

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