There’s great things coming out of Gothenburg
Words by: Adam Allen
Volvo’s been on a bit of a roll, haven’t they?
Volvo’s success story has continued unabated since the XC90 caused jaws to drop everywhere when it was unleashed back in 2014. The hits keep on coming- the S90 sedan, the achingly beautiful V90 wagon and the hottest Polestar offerings have turned Volvo’s roster of vehicles from yawn inducing to downright cool. It’s a remarkable transformation from where the brand was 5 years ago, and any worries that parent company Geely would mess things up are far back in the rearview mirror.
The XC60 bears a striking resemblance to the XC90…
It’s not a bad thing to bear resemblance to one of the nicer SUV offerings plying our roadways. The XC60’s aesthetic vibe reminds us of what happens when you put something in the dryer instead of allowing it to air dry- basically, it’s a smaller scale, shrunken XC90. You still get the same crisp exterior styling, ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlights and even the drivetrain and interior are lifted directly from the 60’s big brother. When we first settled into the driver’s seat and had a look around, we were amazed at how Volvo managed to gift the XC60 with the same sumptuous interior now familiar across the lineup but at its lower price point. We could discuss the wonderful attention to detail in the dashboard stitching or the little Swedish flags that adorn the seats or the way the metallic trim bits beg you to run your finger over them. Instead we’ll focus on two aspects of the interior that never cease to amaze- the seat comfort and the Bowers and Wilkins stereo. The two thrones up front are particularly awe inspiring- they are so comfortable that you might consider mounting them on castors and using them around the home or office. The sound system is excellent- notwithstanding the artful metal speaker grates sprinkled throughout the cabin- but the audio quality it’s able to reproduce is astonishing. Even satellite radio sounds better when coming out of the Bowers and Wilkins components. It’s not a cheap option at $3,250 but if you have the means and enjoy your tunes reproduced in the highest fidelity possible, you need to tick that box.
What’s it like to drive?
Many of you will recall that we quite like the XC90’s driving dynamics which are impressive for a larger SUV. Not surprisingly, all the chassis and drivetrain gubbins work even better in a smaller package with less weight to move around- almost 200 kilos less. That means the 2.0 litre super and turbocharged four feels discernably more zealous moving the XC60 around than it does in larger applications. Along with Volvo’s Geartronic 8-speed automatic, the two give the XC60 convincingly brisk acceleration no matter where the needle happens to be on the tachometer. Despite our tester doing without the air suspension that serves up wondrous ride quality wherever its equipped it still offered surprisingly little body roll and kept suspension events nicely clipped and precise. The suspenders also did a commendable job of allowing the XC60 to carry significant speed while attacking our favorite on-ramps. Push too hard and the XC60 begins to lose composure- it simply doesn’t like to be hustled in the same manner as say, a Porsche Macan. One area where the XC60 trumps the XC90 is the rigidity of the structure- it’s as unyielding as a bride abutment. Even the most cringe worthy tarmac doesn’t faze it, and nothing rattles or moves around. ‘Tank like’ would properly sum up how solid it feels.
What might go wrong?
Being a Swedish company, you’d expect Volvo to have expertise in designing their vehicles to work well in cold temperatures- and for the most part, you’d be right. The engine fires up with nary a complaint when the mercury dips well below zero, the heated seats and steering wheel get toasty fast (an automatically, we might add) and a healthy dumping of snow will not slow the XC60 down. Despite all that, the mostly excellent Sensus infotainment system is shockingly unresponsive until the cabin gets to room temperature. If you execute any sort of command wither to change the climate settings or to simply change the radio station, be prepared to wait. And while we’re discussing Senus, perhaps some of the Volvo engineers’ brilliance could be focused on making the menus a little less cumbersome.
Should I buy a Volvo XC60?
There are many reasons why you should- the painstakingly detailed interior, the immeasurably comfortable seats, the excellent suspension- each of these on their own would merit a trip to the business manager’s office to sign the paperwork. People buy Volvos for all those reasons, and there’s one other one that you should thankfully never have the chance to quantify in a real-life situation, and that’s the safety of occupants inside your XC60. Volvo has a radio ad running now that claims “the greatest luxury is arriving safely at your destination.” We’d have to agree with that- and we hope that Volvo has a Polestar tuned version in the pipeline.
2018 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design– Specifications
- Price as tested: $68,400
- Body Type: 4-door, 5 passenger CUV
- Powertrain Layout: Front-engine/All-wheel drive
- Transmission: 8-speed automatic
- Engine: 2.0 turbocharged and supercharged inline-four, DOHC, 16 valves
- Horsepower: 316 @ 5,700 rpm
- Torque (lbs-ft.): 295 @ 2,200-5,400 rpm
- Curb weight: 2,490 kg (5,490 lbs)
- Observed Fuel Consumption: 12.6L/100km (19 mpg)