Volvo XC60 D5 AWD In­scrip­tion

Our sec­ond taste of the XC60 con­firms this pre­mium mid­size SUV is a strong con­tender for honours at next year’s Top 12 Best Buys awards...

Car (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

AS win­ning streaks go, Volvo’s is an as­ton­ish­ing one. Fol­low­ing years spent lan­guish­ing in the mas­sive shadow of own­ers Ford, China’s Zhe­jiang Geely Hold­ing Group Ltd stepped in with a US$1,8 bil­lion cheque, tak­ing own­er­ship of the Swedish brand and spend­ing more money on de­vel­op­ing new hard­ware. To­day, the re­sults are un­de­ni­ably im­pres­sive; in 2017, Volvo sold a record 571 577 ve­hi­cles. One of the main con­trib­u­tors to that tally was this new XC60.

It’s lit­tle won­der this SUV has been at­tract­ing pos­i­tive at­ten­tion. In our Au­gust 2018 road test of the T6 R-de­sign, we awarded it an im­pres­sive 81 points out of a pos­si­ble 100, record­ing its cruis­ing abil­i­ties, su­perb pack­ag­ing and com­pet­i­tive pric­ing as big pluses.

We did, how­ever, have reser­va­tions about two as­pects: whether the R-de­sign pack­age is a touch too com­pro­mised at low speeds on its firmer damper set­tings (that T6’s ride was spo­rad­i­cally flum­moxed by sharp in­tru­sions send­ing a slight shud­der through the struc­ture straight into the oth­er­wise hushed cabin); and if a diesel model wouldn’t suit some­thing like the XC60’S life­style fo­cus bet­ter than the pow­er­ful but an­o­dyne T6’s 2,0-litre du­alcharged petrol.

It was there­fore a per­fect co­in­ci­dence Volvo had a D5 in flag­ship In­scrip­tion trim in its Cape Town press fleet. Coated in opin­ion-split­ting Pine Grey Metal­lic (more pine than grey) and trimmed in “blonde” Nappa leather in­side – which feels in­dul­gently sup­ple but soils eas­ily – this D5 uses Volvo’s now-fa­mil­iar Drive-e 2,0-litre tur­bod­iesel in 173 kw/480 N.m spec­i­fi­ca­tion, cou­pled with an eight-speed

au­to­matic trans­mis­sion.

This is one of the best in­stal­la­tions of the power unit we’ve en­coun­tered. Where in 90-se­ries Volvos its gruff na­ture seems at odds with the lux­ury line-up’s oth­er­wise calm mien, here the D5 unit per­forms ad­mirably and is no more rowdy than Ger­man ri­vals’ equiv­a­lent en­gines.

While the XC60 T6 man­aged to reach the three-fig­ure mark af­ter just 6,50 sec­onds, this D5 re­quired 8,37 sec­onds. That’s on par with the Mercedes-benz GLC250D, its near­est ri­val in terms of out­puts and mass (1 982 kg). Dur­ing in-gear test­ing, how­ever, the D5 was hand­ily quicker than the Ger­man and not far off the T6.

Cu­ri­ously, while Volvo quotes com­bined fuel-con­sump­tion fig­ures of 7,70 L/100 km for the T6 and the D5’s at 5,60 L/100 km, on our 100 km set fuel run, the lat­ter used just 1,4 litres less. That said, 7,4 L/ 100 km is nev­er­the­less an ad­mirable fig­ure for a diesel-driven SUV weigh­ing nearly two tonnes.

An­other key dif­fer­ence be­tween the two XC60S we’ve tested so far is their sus­pen­sion set­ups, plus the size of the wheels driven by both axles. Where the T6 fea­tured the afore­men­tioned R-de­sign pack­age sport­ing a firmer sus­pen­sion tune, plus op­tional 21-inch wheels wrapped in 40-pro­file rub­ber, this D5 boasts the op­tional air-sus­pen­sion sys­tem (R26 750) on the rear axle cou­pled with ex­tra-cost 20-inch wheels en­veloped by slightly plumper tyres (19-inch­ers are stan­dard).

Right from the get-go, it’s ob­vi­ous this spec­i­fi­ca­tion irons out the com­fort kinks ev­i­dent in our ear­lier test. Where that T6 would seek to flat­ten bumps in­stead of ab­sorb them, the gen­tly-gen­tly ap­proach of this D5 is more ap­peal­ing in the con­text of a fam­ily car. Should the driver pre­fer a stiffer re­sponse, the air sus­pen­sion can be firmed up in sport mode, or switched to an off-road op­tion for max­i­mum ground clear­ance and dis­tri­bu­tion of propul­sion.

In In­scrip­tion spec, the XC60 is lav­ishly out­fit­ted. High­lights of the tally in­clude the afore­men­tioned Nappa leather trim,

an up­graded sound sys­tem, City Safety pack­age in­clud­ing var­i­ous ac­tive safety sys­tems such as lane mit­i­ga­tion and blind-spot as­sist, LED head­lamps, elec­tri­cally ad­justable seat­ing, parkdis­tance con­trol and dual-zone cli­mate con­trol. Volvo of­fers a num­ber of ad­di­tional op­tions and pack­ages, of which this test car fea­tured the nearR70 000 Pre­mium Pack adding a 15-speaker Bow­ers & Wilkins au­dio sys­tem, adap­tive LED light­ing, 360-de­gree park­ing cam­eras and seat heat­ing. Specced sep­a­rately, the var­i­ous items would to­tal nearly R110 000.

TEST SUM­MARY

One tester de­clared the XC60 D5 one of the most re­lax­ing ve­hi­cles he’s driven this year. An­other en­thused over the hand­somely nished cabin and over­all re ne­ment. Crit­i­cisms? There are a few: the Sen­sus Con­nect in­fo­tain­ment sys­tem is still not as in­tu­itive as idrive; Pi­lot As­sist semi-au­ton­o­mous driv­ing tech clum­sily po­goes the car be­tween road mark­ings; and there’s lit­tle in its dy­namic make-up to ex­cite the en­thu­si­ast.

But those are mi­nor quib­bles. We look for­ward to test­ing more af­ford­able de­riv­a­tives of the X3 range be­fore mak­ing a de ni­tive call (BMW SA has promised us an xdrive20d for the next is­sue) but, un­til then – along­side the Audi Q5 – the XC60 is the pre­mium mid­size SUV to get and en­cap­su­lates all that’s great about the modern-day Volvo brand.

clock­wise from left The new XC60 is un­de­ni­ably hand­some; for­ward­fac­ing cam­era part of In­tel­lisafe suite; In­scrip­tion mod­els boast 19-inch al­loys as stan­dard as well as LED head­lamps.

The so­phis­ti­cated XC60 feels like great value in a seg­ment de­fined by costly op­tional ex­tras Ian Mclaren

An­swers all the ques­tions a fam­ily could pose. Su­perb Ter­ence Steenkamp

I’ve yet to drive a more com­fort­able con­tender in this seg­ment Ryan Bubear

clock­wise from be­low “Blonde” leather ties har­mo­niously with drift­wood in­serts; legroom more gen­er­ous than even the XC90’S.

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