Volvo XC60 D4 Mo­men­tum

Grocott's Mail - - MOTORING - By SAM SPILLER

One can com­pre­hend my sur­prise and shock upon re­turn­ing home to Cape Town for the Au­gust hol­i­days to dis­cover that the old man had gone car shop­ping in my ab­sence. How dare he! How dare he ex­clude me, the self­pro­claimed mo­tor­ing guru of the fam­ily, from the process of find­ing and se­lec­tion of a new set of ap­pro­pri­ate wheels. I should be ap­palled.

Ex­cept I am not. Not re­ally, ow­ing to the fact that it was a case of trad­ing up rather than the mi­gra­tion from one brand to another. Just last week, en­ticed by the dis­counted price ow­ing to the im­mi­nent ar­rival of its suc­ces­sor, my fa­ther had traded in his Volvo V40 Cross Coun­try for a mem­ber of the out­go­ing gen­er­a­tion, an XC60.

The new XC60 is ex­pected to reach our shores by the mid­dle of next year, and in its at­tempts to rid their show­room floors of the ex­ist­ing model, Volvo slashed a hun­dred grand off the ask­ing price of its mid­sized SUV. This is noth­ing new, as com­pa­nies will usu­ally of­fer you some sort of dis­count if your car hunt­ing ses­sion hap­pens to co­in­cide with an ar­rival of newer of­fer­ings. I can re­call how Suzuki of­fered my mom a sim­i­lar deal on an SX4 when she was in the mar­ket (in a wise move, she set­tled in the end for a Tiguan).

So, why am I am giv­ing print space to a car that is ac­tu­ally cur­rently be­ing put out to pas­ture? Like I said, Volvo is keen to get rid of their stock, and a slashed price on a brand as pres­ti­gious as Volvo is enough to war­rant some at­ten­tion. To that end, does it?

Prices start at R636 000, with there be­ing a choice of two petrol en­gines, two diesel en­gines, and three dif­fer­ent lev­els of trim. All mod­els come stan­dard with Volvo’s eight­speed au­to­matic trans­mis­sion, and, with the ex­cep­tion of the base-model diesel vari­ant, all are avail­able with all-wheeldrive.

The XC60 in our garage is a D4 Mo­men­tum, the low­est trim level armed with a 2,0-litre turbo diesel en­gine, good for an out­put of 140kW and 400Nm of torque. The en­gine is rea­son­ably pow­ered for a ve­hi­cle this size, with con­sump­tion fig­ures re­ported to be an av­er­age of 4.7l/100km. The petrol al­ter­na­tive to this en­gine is also a tur­bocharged 2,0-litre, and is very sim­i­lar to the 2,0-litre I ex­pe­ri­enced in the Cross Coun­try. Both of th­ese are de­cent-sized en­gines, and un­less the four-wheel driv­e­train on this car is an es­sen­tial for you, I would stick to th­ese en­gines rather than the larger, su­per­charged, and thirstier op­tions.

Like its Ger­man coun­ter­parts, Volvo has made merry with their list of op­tional ex­tras (a topic I have ad­dressed in the past). My test car was clearly built to shine in the show­room be­cause it had all the toys: a panoramic sun­roof, front and rear park dis­tance con­trol, re­vers­ing cam­era, key­less en­try, nav­i­ga­tion, front heated seats... The list is ex­ten­sive. If this is what Volvo is try­ing to push at th­ese prices, the XC60 proves to be a good pack­age. You may just have to go to the deal­er­ship at the end of the coun­try to get it. Safety is pro­nounced by a five-star NCAP safety rat­ing, and in a Volvo that’s all you re­ally need to know.

The key­word to de­scribe the ex­te­rior of the XC60 is pro­por­tion. This is medium-sized SUV that is not afraid to look its ac­tual size, and not at­tempt to adopt a larger pres­ence than it phys­i­cally can. That is not to say that this is a small car, but it does not feel like it’s big for the sole sake of size. I have heard mixed re­sponses to the styling of this car, but in my opinion, the smooth con­tours and lack of sharp edges makes for a nice change to the ag­gres­sive stances of some other SUVs (ahem, BMW, ahem). The light clus­ters and wavy lines give a soft­ness to this car's pre­sen­ta­tion. Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments can be shared in re­gards to the in­te­rior. The Holy Trin­ity of mo­tor­ing jour­nal­ism (i.e. Clark­son, Hammond and May) re­cently agreed that Volvo was the pro­ducer of the best ve­hi­cle in­te­ri­ors to­day, and while there are cer­tain is­sues with this in­te­rior, it is still gen­er­ally a nice place to be. While there is qual­ity to be found across the dash­board, the cen­tral in­stru­ment clus­ter is busy and crowded by too many but­tons to count. Volvo was quite late to the party in terms of em­brac­ing touch­screen tech­nol­ogy, and the pres­ence of those di­al­ing numbers makes it look quite dated.

The cen­tre screen looks mis­shapen, sink­ing into the dash and feel­ing smaller than it ac­tu­ally is. How­ever, con­so­la­tion can be found in the driv­ing mea­sure­ments and the driv­ing po­si­tion. You feel high off the ground and vis­i­bil­ity is very good over­all, while your speedome­ter sits di­rectly in front of you as part of an HUD that is eas­ily the best thing in this car de­sign wise. Front and back in­te­rior space in the XC60 is gen­er­ous. De­spite the trans­mis­sions tun­nel, this car will com­fort­ably seat three adults in terms of both legroom and head space, and the de­sign of the cen­ter seat, which folds into a drinks holder and arm­rest, is some­thing straight out of an IKEA ware­house. Boot space is ad­e­quate, mea­sur­ing at 650 liters, and this is case of Volvo hav­ing to choose be­tween ex­tra boot space, or a full-size spare tyre. Think of that as you will.

Get­ting in and driv­ing off, you are pre­sented with that en­gine which looks af­ter it­self pretty well. There is a good pull to the throt­tle and one should have no prob­lem when trans­port­ing the kids, the lug­gage and the trio of moun­tain bikes. Volvo has done a good job of mut­ing the diesel en­gine as best they can, and while you re­minded that you are driv­ing one ev­ery time you ac­cel­er­ate, it is a meaty and re­as­sur­ing sound to hear. There is no ill to speak of the brakes and gear­box, with changes be­ing pre­cise and the stop­ping pe­riod be­ing brief and de­void of un­cer­tainty. What there is to speak ill of is the steer­ing. Turn­ing the wheel in front re­quires a cer­tain amount of strength and seems ill-placed in a car of this size. It makes sense when you find out this car ac­tu­ally weighs 2,3 tons, but even then this will re­sult in some aches and cranks dur­ing the long trips.

Another is­sue is the hand­brake, which in this car is elec­tronic. Upon com­ing to a stop, there is clear and dis­con­cert­ing de­lay be­tween slip­ping into park and the brake com­ing on, even when the en­gine has been turned off and you in­stinc­tively take your foot off the pedal. Rolling around in a car this size can be down­right scary, and is some­thing that shouldn’t hap­pen.

All in all, I do think my fa­ther grabbed a good deal in this car. Volvo re­mains one of those lux­ury brands that goes rel­a­tively un­no­ticed or not taken se­ri­ously, and re­ally should be given more at­ten­tion. In­roads have been made with the likes of the S90 and new XC90, and I am con­fi­dent that the new XC60 will be a de­cent car as well. This is not a per­fect car, but if a 62-year-old golfer of less-than-av­er­age skill from Ron­de­bosch thinks it’s the car for him, who am I to ask ques­tions.

Photos: Sam Spiller

The out­go­ing Volvo XC60.

The in­te­rior of the Volvo XC60.

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