‘Since 1927, when the founders of Volvo Cars decided to focus on safety as one of the core values of the company, we have been a leader in the field. That will never change. What will change is the breadth of technologies we employ to improve your driving experience and safety,’ Volvo says on their website.
In keeping with this vision, the current XC60 incorporates Volvo’s amazing safety and a whole lot more. This latest version is only the second XC60, with the previous model being launched almost 10 years ago and becoming one of the bestselling mid-sized SUVs in Europe − a trend I believe this latest version will continue. The current model is also the fourth to be based on Volvo’s self-developed SPA (Scalable Platform Architecture) following the introduction of the top of the line 90 cluster in recent years. This new model was launched in 2018 and has already received accolades like the 2018 World Car of the Year, and it currently represents 30% of Volvo’s global sales.
On paper the XC60 is therefore a serious contender in the market, but how does it stack up?
At first sight, you either love it or hate it: it is a vehicle that has some beautiful lines with soft edges giving it a unique look. Up front, the typical large rectangular-styled grill takes up most of the nose of the vehicle, leaving just enough space for the unique lighting cluster and lower air dams. The swooping bonnet has a sculptured section on the sides, giving the vehicle a sporty presence.
The side view is one of my favourites, especially in the R Line (sport version) guise. The semi-flared wheel archers are colour coded, making the wheels look larger. There is a carve-out on the mid to lower section of the doors while just below it there is an added wedge that protrudes out, giving the car a unique lower waistline. At the rear end, the traditional Volvo lights running down the C-pillar are there, but the light cluster now runs inwards along the waistline. This not only differentiates the XC60 from its larger 90 sibling but also adds a freshness to the look. Some don’t like this change as it now is similar to the wagon, but I think it fits well with the overall look.
Inside is where all the magic happens. In keeping with Volvo’s Scandinavian style, the cabin feels airy and spacious. The dashboard is simple with a large tablet in the drop-down section. The tablet effectively controls everything from rear camera display to ventilation and infotainment. As this is a Volvo-built system, it is very different to other manufacturers’ and once you get used to it, it almost becomes second nature. The space up front and in the rear is excellent, while still managing to accommodate a decent amount of space in the luggage area. The front seats are super comfy, with ample lumbar and thigh support thanks to the sporty seats.
On the road, the D5 is well mannered and at times can become a bit dull, especially if you have all the driving aids on. The reason is that with all its aids on the vehicle can effectively drive itself − you just need to keep your hand touching the steering wheel and the car does the rest. It does, however, require you to put your indicator on when you decide to change lanes. So yes, it can be a bit dull, that is, until you feel that you want to drive. All it takes is a few swipes and touches on the tablet display and you can quickly switch off the car’s assistance. Then, almost like magic, the car becomes a lot more responsive and you actually feel like you are in control. This makes it a perfect car, as during traffic you can enable the assistance and when you on the open road, you just take over.
On the whole, the XC60 is a perfect balance between an everyday runabout and a decent driver’s car; it just happens to have enough space to take the whole family along. It also has impressive off-road capabilities and thanks to its air suspension, it can pretty much go over almost anything you would normally throw at it.
In my book, this is a real winner and if I were the competition, I would’ve been worried, as this car hits all the right notes.
AUTHOR l Torque Talk is a member of SAGMJ