What is it?
A hoicked-up, poshed-up family car loaded with safety kit to protect you and the little ’uns. Volvo has always done the family thing well but takes those qualities into the compact SUV sector with the XC60. And it’s a good one, with classy styling inside and out, and refined road manners. It’s easily a rival for the Land Rover Freelander… until things turn boggy, when the LR kicks its butt. Volvo recently revealed a heavily facelifted XC60: it arrives later in 2013.
The emphasis is on smoothness not speed from the four-strong engine line-up. Diesel D4 and D5 engines are where it’s at, with the more powerful D5 215 AWD engine out preferred choice. The smaller D4 engines (both D4 and D5 are five-cylinder motors) are cheaper and perhaps even smoother, but the extra shove of the D5 215 is welcome in a heavy machine like this. It’s also marginally more fuel efficient – any why the two-wheel drive D4 alternative isn’t more economical than the AWD variant, we can’t imagine. There is also a very marginal-interest 3.0 T6 petrol with 281bhp. It is swift but totally at odds with the car’s relaxed nature.
The Geartronic auto suits the XC60 well, so upgrade to that if you can. The four-wheel-drive system adds expense, so think hard about whether you really need it. It’s good in snowstorms, but doesn’t make it any more fun to drive. Vast amounts of safety kit might be great for piece of mind, but the warning bongs can be intrusive: anti-collision warning lights, blind spot monitors, lane departure buzzer, pedestrian detection. It’s all there. Shouting at you. Loudly.
On the inside
What a lovely place to sit for a long journey. The dash is minimal but cool, and Volvo’s floating centre stack houses most of the controls while leaving space to store bits and pieces behind it. That intelligent use of space continues as you move through the car, with an elevated rear bench to give a better view of the road. It also has built in kiddie’s booster seats and a pop-out picnic table. The seats fold fl at to open up a huge loadspace of 1,455 litres. This was clearly designed by someone who knows how to move a family down a road in style and comfort.
The engine and spec range is rather vast and unfathomable, but essentially there’s a choice to be had between a great engine with higher running costs, or a slightly underwhelming one that’s cheaper to run. The D5 is the nicest engine and, impressively, delivers the same economy as the lower-power D4 engine - yes, they both average 50.4mpg and emit 149g/km CO2. The six-cylinder petrol is only for people who don’t pay for their own fuel, with a combined fuel economy of just 26.4mpg (and CO2 to match).