Classy XC60 con­tin­ues Volvo’s Rein­ven­tion

The Star Early Edition - - NEW MODELS -

From Page 1

Tricky thing is, the ex­ist­ing XC60, as dated as it is, is still Volvo’s best­seller and is ex­tremely pop­u­lar over­seas (it’s the best-sell­ing pre­mium SUV in Europe ac­cord­ing to Volvo), and toy­ing with its win­ning for­mula could be a risky move. So, to smooth the tran­si­tion from the now nine-year old ver­sion to the all- new one, Volvo will for now build both. The old XC60 will carry on be­ing built in Bel­gium un­til late this year, while the new one is al­ready rolling off lines in Swe­den. It’s also al­ready on sale in some mar­kets, but we won’t see it in South Africa un­til around April next year.

We got a chance to test the new XC60 in Spain last week, and though it’s been im­proved upon in all ar­eas, it still hits the same sweet spot the pre­vi­ous one nailed in 2008. This isn’t an SUV ded­i­cated to of­froad abil­ity, nor does it mas­quer­ade as a week­end track-lap­per with ride-com­pro­mis­ing sus­pen­sion. It’s a mid­dle of the road of­fer­ing with com­fort and con­ve­nience the pri­mary fo­cus, and if other ve­hi­cles are bet­ter suited to Sani Pass and Kyalami ex­tremes, the XC60 will be hard to beat for daily com­mut­ing and small-fam­ily get­aways.

I say small fam­i­lies be­cause seat­ing is lim­ited to five spa­ces. Ob­vi­ously Volvo has to leave some room in its lineup for the big­ger, seven seater XC90 - a ve­hi­cle with which the XC60 shares its chas­sis, en­gines, tech, and pretty much ev­ery­thing else.

It’s re­ally all the same stuff. The XC60 and XC90 use the same seats, in­fo­tain­ment touch­screens, air-fil­trat­ing cli­mate con­trol sys­tems, op­tional air sus­pen­sion, and semi-au­ton­o­mous Pi­lot As­sist and City Safety fea­tures. Even the panoramic sun­roofs are iden­ti­cal. Be­sides a third seat­ing row and some ex­tra cabin space, there’s lit­er­ally noth­ing that comes in the 90 that you can’t get in the 60.

Though the 300kW plug-in hy­brid T8 flag­ship is still un­der con­sid­er­a­tion for our mar­ket, the rest of the range is con­firmed. This means two diesels and two petrols, all with 2-litre dis­place­ments and all with eight­speed auto gear­boxes and all-wheel drive as stan­dard. The se­lec­tion will ex­actly mir­ror that in the XC90, and in­cludes D4 (140kW/400Nm), D5 (173kW/480Nm), T5 (187kW/350Nm) and T6 (235kW/400Nm) mod­els. All are tur­bocharged, ex­cept the T6 which is turbo and su­per­charged. All en­gines will come with a choice of Mo­men­tum, In­scrip­tion or R De­sign trim lines.

The test units I drove in Spain were all specced with op­tional air sus­pen­sion, so I can’t speak for the stan­dard steel-sprung set­ups, but my word, this is one ex­cep­tion­ally soft rid­ing SUV. The XC60 is a bit shorter in wheel­base and nar­rower in track than the larger 90, but big brother has still passed on its won­der­fully sup­ple road man­ners.

The 60 goes about busi­ness in a very ma­ture and re­fined way, soak­ing up what­ever sur­face im­per­fec­tions it rolls over.

There’s a no­tice­able airi­ness to the cabin (es­pe­cially so with blond nappa leather and light drift­wood dash in­lays), and 360 de­gree vis­i­bil­ity from the driver’s seat is very good. A cen­tral 23cm por­trait-shaped touch­screen is in­her­ited from other cur­rent “Thor’s ham­mer” mod­els, and be­cause it houses most on­board con­trols the dash lay­out is quite min­i­mal­ist in typ­i­cal Scan­di­na­vian fash­ion.

It’s a daz­zling dis­play of vivid colour and crisp graph­ics, but its op­er­a­tion will take some get­ting used to if you’re not au fait with these mod­ern day touch-type sys­tems. Sim­ply ad­just­ing bass and tre­ble is a com­plex pro­ce­dure, and fine tun­ing the sat­nav can be tor­tur­ous for less tech-savvy peo­ple.

Cabin qual­ity is next level. I’d say it’s even a notch above the Ger­mans, with per­fect at­ten­tion to de­tail in all ar­eas. There’s a teeny-weeny Swedish flag stitched into the pas­sen­ger seat’s side pip­ing, and the thin stain­less steel bead­ing that flows along the width of the dash gets a flea-sized flag em­bossed into its sur­face.

Tiny things that make a lot of dif­fer­ence.

Even the (op­tional) 15-speaker Bow­ers & Wilkins grilles wouldn’t look out of place in a Rolls Royce. It’s that good.

The new XC60’s south African ar­rival is too dis­tant to con­firm pric­ing, but ex­pect a bit of a hike over the cur­rent XC60 which ranges from R630 000 to R724 000. That should put it right in line with ri­val GLCs, X3s and Q5s.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.