EL­E­GANT BUT PRAC­TI­CAL: NEW XC60’S PRE­MIUM STYLING

Volvo’s best-sell­ing SUV has been re­freshed for 2017, bring­ing good looks and plenty of com­fort. Can it fill the big shoes of its big-sell­ing pre­de­ces­sor?

Belfast Telegraph - NI Carfinder - - Front Page - DAR­REN CASSEY

WHAT’S NEW

The Volvo XC60 sits in the lu­cra­tive mid-sized SUV mar­ket, and has thus far proved to be hugely suc­cess­ful for the Swedish man­u­fac­turer with nearly a mil­lion units sold since it was in­tro­duced nine years ago.

And with the new XC60 that trend should con­tinue up­wards. It now sits on Volvo’s Scal­able Prod­uct Ar­chi­tec­ture, which al­lows com­po­nent shar­ing across the range to bring down costs. It also gets Volvo’s ‘ Thor’s Ham­mer’ head­lights and chunky grille, giv­ing it a classy, modern look.

LOOKS AND IM­AGE

Gone are the days when Volvo was all about pure prac­ti­cal­ity. It’s still big on safety, but there’s a real fo­cus on be­ing pre­mium that’s im­me­di­ately ev­i­dent. The re­vamped front end gives the XC60 a real el­e­gance that’s lack­ing in this seg­ment – save for the Jaguar F-pace – and this ethos con­tin­ues in­side.

Slide into the driver’s seat and poke around and you’ll find noth­ing but soft ma­te­ri­als. The clean de­sign is helped by the tablet-like touch­screen in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem that de­clut­ters

the dash­board of un­nec­es­sary but­tons.

Along with most of the in­te­rior fit­tings, it is an­gled to­wards the driver to make the SUV feel smaller and more car-like – it works.

SPACE AND PRAC­TI­CAL­ITY

Hold the boot but­ton on the key for a cou­ple of sec­onds and the tail­gate lifts to re­veal a large and use­ful boot – at 505 litres it is be­low the class av­er­age but will eas­ily swal­low a large shop and some suit­cases.

Safety is high on the agenda for Volvo, and as such the XC60 comes with loads of safety kit straight out of the box. There are plenty of sen­sors on the car that can help the driver brake if it senses a col­li­sion is im­mi­nent, while new for the XC60 is steer­ing con­trol that aids wheel in­puts and uses the brakes to im­prove the car’s abil­ity to swerve around dan­ger.

BE­HIND THE WHEEL

It’s im­me­di­ately ap­par­ent that Volvo has put com­fort at the top of the XC60 agenda. Our car was rid­ing on op­tional air sus­pen­sion and it rode beau­ti­fully with sur­pris­ingly lit­tle body roll in the cor­ners.

The SUV is at home on the mo­tor­way, munch­ing through miles in quiet com­fort with ease. The D5 en­gine is a high­light, pulling hard when re­quired but de­liv­er­ing easy econ­omy in ev­ery­day driv­ing.

If re­lax­ation is key, there are few in the class that can touch the XC60. How­ever, it does pay for it a lit­tle in the cor­ners. The steer­ing is di­rect but lacks feel and al­though the air sus­pen­sion deals with most of the body roll it can’t quite hide its bulk on a twisty back road.

VALUE FOR MONEY

The stan­dard spec­i­fi­ca­tion is highly im­pres­sive, with 18-inch al­loy wheels, LED head­lights and leather up­hol­stery all stan­dard, not to men­tion the im­pres­sive City Safety driver aid pack­age.

The Sen­sus in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is re­spon­sive and the high-def­i­ni­tion screens are easy to read, though the lay­out isn’t par­tic­u­larly in­tu­itive. This will be less of a prob­lem for own­ers as Volvo says the sys­tem learns what menus you use reg­u­larly and puts them on the main screen to make nav­i­ga­tion quicker and eas­ier.

WHO WOULD BUY ONE?

The tar­get mar­ket for the XC60 is fam­i­lies look­ing for some­thing more in­ter­est­ing than ri­vals from more main­stream brands such as Audi and BMW. It has proved hugely suc­cess­ful in do­ing this, and with the up­dated styling and im­pres­sive safety kit you’d have to be brave to bet against sales con­tin­u­ing to rise.

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