This is Volvo’s most important car yet.
Volvo’s new XC60 arrives with some pretty big shoes to fill. The outgoing model sold strongly throughout its 9-year life, managing to rack up some 160,000 buyers before being replaced by the car we’re looking at today. While the XC90 may be pinned as the catalyst for change from the Swedish company, the XC60 has, for some time, been the bread-and-butter model for them, so you can imagine just how important this new car is.
The new XC60 has to engage with buyers the way the old car did, while offering an improved experience in every tangible sense. On the surface it appears to have done so with the modern, contemporary styling and the promise of cutting-edge driver assistance systems no doubt enough to compel some buyers, with the remaining bunch able to be won over by its impressive levels of comfort and refinement. And for the very fussiest buyers, they’ll be pleased to know that the XC60 packs strong value too, making it a sweet package indeed.
Available in our market in Momentum, Inscription and R-Design trims with a choice of D4 and D5 diesels, T5 and T6 petrols, and a T8 TwinEngine plug-in petrol-electric hybrid, the XC60 aims to spoil buyers with comfort, tech, safety, and choice, it seems.
“If timing is everything, then Volvo’s second-generation XC60 has mastered the fashionably-late yet beautifully-timed entrance.” — Wheels Mag
Volvo may have been known in the 80s and 90s for making the safest boxes on wheels, but their latest crop of cars most certainly cannot be categorised as boxes. The svelte, sleek XC60 takes the design language we were first made familiar with with the XC90 and made it smaller, incorporating design elements that were then later seen from the V90 estate in particular. While that could render the XC60 a bit derivative, it does at least make it distinctive, and we can assure you that a modern Volvo wouldn’t be mistaken for anything else on the road, day or night.
While lots of carmakers try to add more and more aggression to their cars with every iteration, Volvo confidently went in the other direction, focusing instead on unbridled luxury and elegance. They’ve got it down to a science, too: Volvo designers figured out that the most desirable luxury cars have something called a ‘dash-to-axle’ ratio that makes them become immediately recognisable as a posh vehicle, and that ratio has been applied here. As a result, the XC60 features a long bonnet and a rearward cabin, accentuated further by shapely curves, creases, and surface play.
There are LED headlights as standard, replete with ‘Thor’s Hammer’ daytime running lights, as well as LED light guides out back to give the car a unique signature at night. The rear is a particularly interesting subject, with the XC60 gaining two-piece taillights that stretch into the tailgate for the first time, effectively accentuating both the height of the XC60 (a Volvo design feature) as well as the width.
For those who find the XC60 too docile, there are R-Design trims and accessories that can add a decent dose of testosterone. R-Design cars get unique wheels, a unique grille, a more aggressive front bumper, and mildly-sharper suspension.
Engine & Drivetrain
“The XC60 uses the same three powertrains as the Series-90 cars, based around a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine block.” — The Australian
There are a grand total of 5 engine choices for the XC60: Two petrols, two diesels, and a petrol-electric plug-in hybrid. We’ll progress through them in terms of where they sit on the range, kicking off with the D4.
The D4 is the base oiler, 2-litres in size, producing 140kW and 400Nm. This turbo-four diesel offers plenty of poke for most, and consumes precious little fuel throughout, with the claimed consumption figure sitting at 5.4L/100km.
Move up a notch and you’ll find yourself in a T5, which uses a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol mill that produces an impressive 187kW and 350Nm. It’s smoother than the D4 naturally (if only because it’s a petrol), but you won’t be able to tell the difference inside the car. Being a petrol mill it also consumes more fuel, with the claimed figure sitting at 6.3L/100km, but this is definitely the better urban companion than the diesel, which is happier on motorways.
If you want a punchier oiler, then you’ll be looking at the D5. This mill is essentially the same as the lower D4 sans the addition of a second turbocharger, bumping power up to 173kW and torque up to 480Nm. Again, this is a mill happiest on the motorway over long-distance cruises (something you can do with Volvo’s unlimited-mileage warranty), with that sort of steady driving able to get you close to the claimed 5.6L/100km claimed fuel consumption figure.
Move up the rung one more and you get the T6 2.0-litre petrol mill, which adds a supercharger to the already potent mix offered by the lower T5. Thanks to that, the T6 offers an impressive 235kW and 400Nm, and while this mill is definitely the one to go for if you’re looking for a blend of performance and economy (and dislike the D5 mill for some reason). Of course, power does come at a price, paid both at retail and at the pumps, with the T6 using a claimed 8.1L/100km on the combined cycle.
Interestingly, the most powerful engine of them all is also the most frugal, and is also the dearest. The T8 TwinEngine plug-in hybrid sits at the top of the range, mating the mill from the lower T6 to an electric motor at the back, to produce a combined 300kW and 640Nm. Despite the sports car troubling statistics, the T8 can also offer up to 45km of pure-electric driving on a full-charge, which will appeal to those who spend a lot of their time doing short urban commutes. As a result, the combined fuel consumption figure stands at an unbelievable 2.1L/100km, which we’re happy to report is entirely achievable, but only if you’re diligent with the charger. If you’re not, expect to see a real-world figure well north of 10L/100km, due in part to the additional 200kg the hybrid system adds to the mix.
All Volvo XC60s offer all-wheel drive as standard, with an eight-speed Aisin-Warner gearbox doing, well, gearbox duties.
“The XC60 is as classy and elegant inside as the larger (and more expensive) XC90.” — WhatCar?
If you had your breath taken away the first time you saw the cabin of a Volvo XC90, then prepare for a similar reaction inside the XC60. Sans very small details, the XC60 cabin is identical to that of the larger Series-90 Volvos, and really is a case of the photocopier set to a different level of magnification.
The ergonomics of the XC60 are spot-on, with everything falling to hand beautifully. The design is refreshingly minimalist, a far cry from the button-fest you get in a BMW X1 or an Audi Q3. Instead there’s a 9-inch Sensus infotainment screen mounted dead smack in the middle of the dash controlling every conceivable function of the XC60, flanked by air conditioner vents and underlined by a seemingly-uninterrupted design element that frames the passenger air vents.
The central tunnel feels vast, and that’s because it is: Despite the XC60 being smaller than the XC90 by design, it’s actually almost just as wide. As a result, the central tunnel offers impressive storage beneath the centre arm rest, beside the gear lever and electric parking brake, and just beneath the dash. The doors also have rather large door bins, and there’s a commodious glovebox ahead of the passenger, as well as a cubby just aft of the driver’s right knee, big enough to store sunglasses (and lined with felt, too).
The rear of the XC60 is pretty commodious too, with enough room for three adults (though not for too long a stretch). There’s good storage thanks to large door bins, rear seat netting, and even a nifty bit of space beneath the seat base under the outer two chairs (enough to hide an tablet computer). Go back further and you’ll find 505L of space, expandable by folding the rear seats, which is about 10% less than what you’ll find in comparable models like the Audi Q3 and BMW X1. But you’re not going to miss that difference often enough for it to be a point against the XC60, really.
Behind The Wheel
“The smaller, lighter XC60 is a slightly more dynamic drive, and so it should be with carry-over engines [from the Series-90] on a more compact body.” — Drive
The XC60 has a rather different set of priorities drive-wise as opposed to its larger Series-90 compatriots, with the product manager for the car saying that the XC60 adheres more to “inspired confidence” principles as opposed to the “relaxed confidence” requirements that the Series-90 cars were engineered to meet. Rehearsed-marketing-rubbish aside, the XC60 has to be more direct, agile, and responsive in its approach due to not only the more compact size but the more demanding driver that’ll find themselves behind the wheel of such a car.
Where the XC90, due to its size, would be expected to waft gracefully in town and on the motorway, the XC60 has to be more youthful, and more connected. Which, thankfully, it is. There’s an immediacy to the powertrain’s reactions that we haven’t seen before in Volvo’s latest crop of cars, and it’s a change that’s most certainly welcomed. Considering that XC60s will be spending most of their time in town anyway, the ability to act and react quickly to cut-and-thrust urban conditions demands a more responsive powertrain, which the XC60 delivers.
To that end, the D5 diesel is particularly noteworthy. While the petrol motors have overcome turbo-lag (the T5 with a smart turbocharger and the T6 by adding a supercharger), the D5 diesel combats the matter with a technology called PowerPulse. What PowerPulse does essentially is inject a bit of compressed air into the turbocharger to eliminate turbo-lag, giving the oiler an instant-response feel that would surprise anyone coming out of a traditional turbodiesel. You can certainly feel the difference, and it’s a novel innovation that drivers, particularly urban ones, will come to appreciate with time.
But it’s the T8 that surprises most of all-particularly in town. Despite weighing more than 2-tonnes, the instantaneous whack of torque thanks to the electric motor makes the XC60 feel more agile than any mid-sized SUV has any right to be, meaning that exploiting a gap in traffic will not be an issue here. Further, with enough charge, the T8 powertrain will shut off the petrol engine altogether and run entirely on electric power until the charge is exhausted, which is great if your commute features the ability to charge at either end (presumably at home and at work).
All cars, diesels included, are amazingly refined and quiet on the motorway, with well-judged suspension ensuring pleasant, unperturbed progress over even the longest of journeys. Option on the air suspension system (an absolute must-have if you’re riding on bigger alloys) and you’ll get an idea of what a ‘magic carpet ride’ really entails. The advanced driver assistance systems can also help to take the strain off long-distance driving, while in-town traffic snarls can be made less stressful with the availability of PilotAssistII, which does all but totally take over steering, accelerator, and braking functions at slow speeds.
Safety & Technology
“This is a Volvo and safety is this brand's whole schtick.” — CarsGuide
The Volvo XC60 is still, first and foremost, a Volvo. As such, the XC60 gets things like IntelliSafe and CitySafety advanced driver assistance systems, which include things like autonomous emergency braking at city speeds, driver drowsiness monitor, and lane-departure warning. Optional kit includes hints like blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear collision warning. There are a smattering of airbags naturally, but Volvo doesn’t make too big of a fuss about them, as they believe there’s more to safety than just airbags.
Convenience tech is well catered for, too. There’s keyless entry on go, full LED headlights, the 9-inch Sensus infotainment screen (with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard), a 360º camera, all-round parking sensors, power-adjustable front seats, and dual-some climate control, all as standard. Wait, there’s also a powered tailgate, electrochroamatic mirrors (inside and out), automatic wipers, and selectable drive modes.
If the standard 10-speaker high-performance audio system isn’t enough, a 14-speaker Bowers & Wilkins setup is available for a fee, as are things like Nappa leather upholstery, air-suspension, and heated seats.
The outgoing model might have been the best-selling SUV in Europe for over a decade, but the new car moves the game on so considerably, so tangibly, that there’s little doubt that the new Volvo XC60 will pick up the mantle left behind by the outgoing car and push it to loftier heights. The first-generation XC60 will be remembered as the best-selling car Volvo’s ever made… up until this model replaces it.
With improved standard tech, enviable looks, and an interior that redefines minimalism in the automotive sector, the XC60’s confidently broad appeal will not only see existing Volvo customers enquiring about leasing costs, but will definitely have plenty of buyers ditching the competition. Sure, it isn’t the sharpest thing to drive, and the boot is about that much smaller than some of its rivals. But only a small percentage of customers in segment will make their decisions based heavily on those factors, which reveals the XC60’s genius.
This is the car that is 10% short of excellent, but appeals to the 90%. And the remaining 10% can find their happiness in the form of a Porsche Macan, the uncontested drivers’ choice. Or if you think the boot is tiny, consider a Ford Transit.
Our pick of the range would be between the D5 and T6, thanks to their impressive breadth of ability. The petrol motor will feel far more intuitive and at home in town, whereas the diesel’s slightly gruff nature will be made up for by staggering motorway refinement. As for the T8… unless you have the pockets to match your love for the environment, or are lucky enough to have a charger for your car on either end of your daily commute, it’s hard to justify the premium.
WhichCar — 4.5/5.0 — “The Volvo XC60 is an exceptionally comfortable luxury medium SUV, featuring a choice of turbocharged petrol and diesel powertrains including a plug-in hybrid. All-wheel drive adds security on slippery surfaces.”
AutoExpress — 5.0/5.0 — “The Volvo XC60 is our favourite premium SUV, offering style luxury and lots advanced tech.”
Autocar UK — 4.5/5.0 — “The latest Volvo XC60 ought to be as close to a home run as Volvo has enjoyed under Geely’s ownership, and in several important respects, the SUV pays out on the initial promise. The right product at the right time, but wanting the right dynamic finish.”
Drive — 4.0/5.0 — “Volvo’s sharp opening bit positions the new XC60 where it needs to be, undercutting established rivals, within the reach of a broad range of buyers, and showing no songs of being de-contented to meet the mark. It seems that Volvo’s really hit its stride with this latest introduction.”
TopGear UK — 8.0/10 — “Handsome, luxurious, and wraps you in a safety blanket as comprehensive as the Swedish welfare state. The Volvo XC60, a human-centric crossover that suppresses your inner sociopath.”
CarsGuide — 8.3/10 — “The XC60 is an outstanding mid-sized all-wheel drive SUV. A great selection of engines and a plug-in hybrid means buyers can better suit their purchase to their lifestyle. Super safe, stylish, and effortless to drive, the best value is to be had lower in the range, with the sweet spot being the Inscription.”
The Australian — 4.0/5.0 — “The new XC60 is the big one for Volvo. Based on the same Scalable Product Architecture as the Series-90 cars, it felt instantly familiar, with the same whispering strength, leanness, and modernity that made the XC90 a hit. But it also shares with its larger sibling a somewhat impassive driving character. Scandinavians, you know.”
WhatCar? — 4.0/5.0 — “The Volvo XC60 is not the best large SUV to drive but, being classy inside, roomy, and well-equipped, it’s still a strong option.”