Volvo XC60 D5 AWD Inscription Geartronic
Does the effortless sophistication of Volvo’s XC90 translate to its shrunken sibling?
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