As Europe’s best selling medium SUV the Volvo XC60 has big shoes to fill in its second generation. Even with its advancing age the previous model continued to build sales year on year.
For the new generation XC60, Volvo has adopted the chassis that underpins the larger XC90, along with items like the seats, infotainment system, electrical architecture, and of course safety systems meaning a large car look and feel in a more compact package.
Volvo won’t go unchallenged though as the prestige medium SUV class is bombarded with new models like the recently introduced Audi Q5 and Range Rover Velar, and soon to arrive BMW X3 all making Volvo’s task of getting the XC60 message across more difficult.
Vehicle Style: Prestige medium SUV
Price: $59,990 - $92,990 plus on-road costs
Engine/trans: 140kW/400Nm or 173kW/480Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo diesel, 187kW/350Nm or 235kW/400Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo and supercharged petrol, 300kW/640Nm 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo and supercharged petrol plug-in hybrid | 8sp automatic
Fuel Economy Claimed: 2.1-8.0 l/100km
In Australia the XC60 range kicks off from a somewhat surprising $59,990 (plus on-road costs) for the entry level XC60 Momentum D4 and spans all the way to a not insubstantial $92,990 (plus on-roads) for the range-topping 300kW R-Design T8 plug-in hybrid that promises to be both fast and frugal.
In between there’s a T5 petrol, D5 diesel, and T6 petrol with all engines featuring four-cylinders and 2.0-litre capacity, despite their numerical designations. Specification starts with Momentum onto the more plush Inscription (both available with D4 and T5 engines) while the sporty R-Design can be had with more powerful D5, T6 and T8 engines (see On The Road for more info).
Of course, Volvo being Volvo means there’s also a long list of safety features including new innovations like Oncoming Lane Mitigation that uses steer assist to guide the XC60 back into the correct lane should it detect an oncoming vehicle, plus blind spot monitoring that can keep the car out of the path of other vehicles during turns.
- Momentum: Leather seat trim, two-zone climate control, electrically adjustable front seats, LED headlights, keyless entry and ignition, hands-free powered tailgate, ‘Iron Ore’ interior decor, digital instrument cluster, rain-sensing wipers, auto-dimming rear view mirrors, 19-inch alloy wheels
- Inscription: Four-zone climate control, additional seat adjustment, ‘Driftwood’ interior decor, adaptive cruise control, roof rails, additional exterior chrome trim, 20-inch alloy wheels
- R-Design: Charcoal headlining, sports seats, metal mech interior decor, gearshift paddles, R-Design gear knob and pedals, exterior R-Design package, 21-inch alloy wheels
- Infotainment: 9.0-inch Sensus touchscreen, satellite navigation, 2x USB inputs, Bluetooth connectivity, AM/FM/DAB+ radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, 10-speaker audio
- Cargo Volume: 505 litres to rear seats
With so many familiar elements from the XC90 on board, the XC60 bears an incredibly strong family resemblance including key items like the steering wheel, digital instrument cluster and 9.0-inch infotainment display.
Volvo has also tapped into its Scandinavian roots, delivering a minimalist dashboard aesthetic trimmed in contemporary wood and metal finishes. Button-clutter is all but removed with controls shifted to the central screen.
Volvo also adds in some points of difference. The start-up process doesn’t involve the usual push-button start, but rather a twist-knob in the centre console, the dash houses a Swedish flag motif in front of the passenger that hides an expansion join in the metal trim to allow it to expand and contract with the weather, and T8 models come with a crystal gear selector from famed Swedish glassmaker, Orrefors.
The combination of simple forms, horizontal design, and starkly vertical touchscreen makes the XC60 stand out from its peers, but along with the aesthetic elements, Volvo has struck the right balance of spaciousness.
The seats are the same as those in the larger XC90, so feel every bit as roomy and supportive. Tall windows and a low belt line combine to give the cabin a bright airy feel.
Rear seat passengers in particular will have room to stretch out with a surprisingly generous amount of space under the front seats to slide their feet into. Head and knee room are also quite generous but the rear doors are quite slim, making entry and egress less than ideal - particularly if you need to buckle a youngster into a car seat.
For models equipped with air suspension a button in the boot allows the rear suspension to be raised or lowered to ease loading, and the boot itself is generous though competitors like the Mercedes-Benz GLC and Audi Q5 outclass it slightly, by three and 45 litres respectively.
ON THE ROAD
- Engine: 140kW/400Nm D4 2.0-litre turbo diesel, 173kW/480Nm D5 2.0-litre turbo diesel, 187kW/350Nm T5 turbo petrol, 235kW/400Nm T6 turbo and supercharged petrol, 300kW/640Nm T8 twin engine turbo and supercharged petrol plug-in hybrid
- Transmission: Eight-speed automatic, all wheel drive
- Suspension: Wishbone front, multilink rear
- Brakes: Four-wheel disc brakes
- Steering: Electric power steering, 11.4m turning circle
- Towing Capacity: 2100-2400kg braked, 750kg unbraked
Like the interior, key componentry for the XC60 is carried over from the larger XC90 meaning the engines, transmission, and suspension are the same as those of the larger model.
That’s mostly due to Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, which will also eventually underpin the next-generation S60 sedan and V60 wagon, forming the common basis for the two models.
There are some differences, like the handling package, which Volvo’s XC60 product manager describes as complying to “inspired confidence” principles unlike the XC90 which was developed under “relaxed confidence” guidelines.
In layman's terms that means the smaller, lighter, XC60 is a slightly more dynamic drive, and so it should be with carry-over engines on a more compact body with less mass to contend with.
Don’t think that it’s an all-out sporty SUV though. The XC60 is still composed and comfortable, and in its standard form the light steering and easy-going ride make it feel approachable, easy to drive, and above all comfortable.
The entry-level D4 engine is adept and brings the XC60 up to speed relatively swiftly, with good refinement and low levels of noise and vibration. During the driving rain on our first drive the standard all wheel drive system also kept grip reassuringly where it needed to be depending on conditions.
The D5 engine of the R-Design also adds Volvo’s Power Pulse technology which uses a compressed air reservoir to pre-charge the turbo from standstill, with the aim of reducing turbo lag therefore making the more powerful diesel feel more responsive.
At the top of the range the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid delivers a significant 300kW of power thanks to the combination of the T6’s 235kW twincharged petrol engine (turbocharged and supercharged) plus a 65kW electric motor that drives the rear axle.
A multi-mode drive system allows full, or partial EV operation, or a performance oriented mode dedicates maximum assistance from powertrain systems for a more dynamic drive.
As a green choice the XC60 T8 gave about 38 kilometres of electric range whilst driving out of Adelaide, with just one full throttle acceleration burst requiring assistance from the petrol engine to help pick up the pace.
Left to its own devices in hybrid mode the XC60 T8 will rely on the electric motor in most circumstances, with a smooth transition to petrol assistance and only a slight hint of petrol engine rumble.
There’s no hiding the T8’s circa 2.1 tonne weight though, and pushed hard it feels portly, though acceleration (at 5.3 seconds from 0-100 km./h) is anything but pedestrian.
R-Design cars also feature a sports suspension tune, and in concert with the standard 21-inch wheel package the ride can crash and bash over road imperfections, a bold difference to the ride comfort of lesser models.
ANCAP Rating: The Volvo XC60 has yet to be rated by ANCAP.
Safety Features: The XC 60 includes a long list of safety features including expected items like six airbags, seatbelt pretensioners for all seating positions, electronic stability and traction control, 360 degree camera, and rear ISOFIX mounts.
The brand also includes blind spot information and rear cross traffic alert and lane keeping aid,which can both steer the vehicle away from a collision, plus whiplash protecting seats, and City Safety, an autonomous emergency braking system that monitors the area in front of the vehicle for cars, cyclists, large animals, and pedestrians.
WARRANTY AND SERVICING
Warranty: Three years.unlimited kilometres
Servicing: Service intervals occur every 12 months or 15,000km. Volvo does not offer capped price servicing, but does have pre-paid service plans available for three, four, or five years (or the corresponding distance, whichever comes first). Your Volvo dealer can explain the available packages, terms, conditions, and pricing.
RIVALS TO CONSIDER
The Mercedes-Benz GLC packs in the same classy interior as the C-Class range, but with more space inside - particularly in the rear seats. There’s plenty of engine choices, but beware of a firm and unfriendly ride on the standard steel springs and tick the option box for air suspension if comfort is a key consideration.
Audi’s new Q5 adopts the brand's latest styling themes on the outside, without looking dramatically different from its predecessor. But on the inside the fresh interior is a revelation compared to the outgoing model. There’s less engine choices than the XC60 range initially, but the simpler range doesn’t miss any key items.
Land Rover has dedicated its newest Range Rover model, the Velar, to the pursuit of style, and it delivers a unique look thanks to hidden door handles, a lowered roof line and twin touchscreen interior. Some of the brand’s off-road ability has been diminished, but only very slightly.
The new BMW X3 hasn’t hit Aussie soil yet, but it will arrive in a just a matter of weeks. Like the Benz and Range Rover, pricing isn’t as sharp as that of the Volvo, particularly as a base model, but the X3’s dynamics could sway opinion. Keep an eye out for our review coming soon.
TMR VERDICT | OVERALL
Volvo’s sharp $59,990 opening bid positions the new XC60 exactly where it needs to be, undercutting established luxury rivals and within the reach of a broad range of buyers, while showing no signs of being de-contented to meet the mark.
Along with the brand’s traditional safety approach, Volvo has also forged itself a new reputation for confident and appealing design. The new XC60 in particular looks less formal than the larger XC90 while maintaining a strong feeling of familiarity.
Comfortable and appealing to drive (approach the firm-riding R-Design with caution) with frugal engines, and an upscale but roomy interior, it seems that Volvo has really hit its stride with this latest introduction.