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Review: Volvo XC60 D5 AWD

Driven December 2017

Review: Volvo XC60 D5 AWD

A midsize SUV is a delectable segment, arguably, most relevant in the Indian scenario. This stays true even on the luxury side where it continues to lead the charge of any brand. Volvo is no different. The outgoing XC60 was the best-selling model from the Swede stable. The new one is showing all the signs of keeping that record intact.


This isn't a facelift. It's a proper generation change for Volvo's global best-seller. It is based on the all-new chassis architecture Volvo calls SPA - a complex but intelligent skeleton that can support a variety of bodystyles without too much of a compromise. Compared to the older car, the new XC60 is longer, wider and shorter. The latter isn't a bad thing because it has helped the SUV develop some car-like traits under typical high-speed driving conditions.

XC 60

Historically, when the outgoing XC60 broke cover it signalled a makeover for the conservative Swedish brand. It let go off some of its understated design inclinations for a bolder stance. That has since morphed further under the guidance of chief designer Tomas Engenlath is now almost provocative if you were to see the current XC90, S90 and V90. Of course, Volvo isn't restricting the design makeover to the flagship brands. The XC60 is the first to benefit from this.

This would almost pass off as a mini XC90 but that's more in the pictures and in the flesh. The relatively smaller size and subtle variantions to the face and profile make it distinguishable.

The headlamp where the 'Thor hammer' LEDs now protrudes inwards to touch the front grille. The XC60 has never looked more purposeful and you can make this out with the arrow-like profile. Unlike the XC90 the window area doesn't look oversized and gives it a sharper look. At the rear, it gets a bit conservative with a flatter hatch but that has been adorned cleverly with massive taillights which are typical of the bigger SUV. Massive 19-inch alloys, which are standard on the launch Incription variant, make up for any deficiency in visual bulk.

XC 60

But what you will most likely like more about the XC90 are the driving dynamics and interiors. The former first.

The only carryover of sorts from the outgoing model is the power train. The new car will come in the D5 spec which is a 2-litre diesel unit mated to an 8-speed auto box. In case you not aware, Volvo has globally decided to stick to smaller engines as it moves more into a future of hybrid and electric powertrains. Nevertheless, this engine makes near 235bhp, which is quite incredible for a unit this size. Being a diesel, supply of low-end torque isn't an issue and it can churn out as much as 480 Newton-metres of that. While on the outside there is a muffled but noticeable diesel clatter it magically disappears on the inside once the doors close. The unit does add to the poise of the XC60. Power is supplied in a linear manner and the gearbox gracefully picks it up and passes them on to the four wheels. Yes, all-wheel-drive is standard but is more to make this SUV better at high-speed corners rather than tackle cratered surfaces. Adaptive air suspension is standard here which magically lifts the car when in comfort or off-road mode and lowers it when in dynamic mode. It does that even when you switch the car off for ease of ingress and egress.

The steering is well-written and gets heavier as speed builds or toggles as you switch between the driving modes. Volvo has managed to keep a lot of radar-friendly safety features on the car that makes the XC60, technically, semi-autonomous. For example, the steering wheel will shudder if you drift towards the lane marking or nudge the driver to steer into the lane. It can warn of dangerous situations such as another vehicle in the driver's blind spot, or aid braking on its own if an obstacle in the way and steer away from it. It is all very clever and suprisingly, worked well during our test run which is a typical Indian traffic scenario.

XC 60

What also works well from the Indian context is the XC60's massively impressive cabin. Fit and finish and quality of leather, wood and soft-touch fabric feels properly luxurious. The seats are all-new and you get power controls for the front seats. Plus they are ventilated. The dashboard is dominated by the large central touchscreen display with a slightly updated interactive system than the XC90's. It is clear and gets intuitive as you keep using it. The variant on sale in India will come with a Bowers & Wilkins music system for a theatre-like experience. On the more obvious side, space isn't at a premium. There is enough headroom for an average-sized Indian plus more than enough legroom at the rear. There is an ample boot too.

The new XC60 has everything going for it. From design, to quality interiors, to a more fulfilling driving experience. Volvo will only be launching the top Inscription variant for now which will make the vehicle get a sticker price of close to ₹60 lakh, which is territory of our segment favourite the Mercedes GLC. But it is going to be fitted with tech and features that would make the German squirm in its place. And that’s saying something about the new XC60.

Girish Karkera

Rating: 8/10

Verdict: Radically different than the outgoing model both in terms of impressively well-packaged hardware and a composed drive.

SPECS: D5 Inscription

1969cc, 8A, AWD, 232bhp, 480Nm, top speed 230kph, 223mm ground clearance, 71-litre fuel tank, R19 alloys



Girish Karkera

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