Volvo XC60 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Wednesday 27th September


What is it like to drive?

The XC60 uses the suspension from the XC90, so mostly it feels very similar. The wheelbase is shortened and the track narrowed by the simple means of different hubs and wheel offsets. From the driver's seat it's an asset to have something less bulky when you're threading down city streets or narrow lanes.

Both non-hybrid petrol and diesel options get some electrical assistance in the form of beefier electrics for extended stop-start and suchlike. The diesel is the better bet of the two, simply you’ve got a smidge under two tonnes of SUV to shift around and it’s still the better fuel for the job if you don’t have access to a plug and driveway. It might still be the better choice of the lot if the PHEV sums don’t add up – make sure you’re getting value from the extra £8k it takes to graduate from diesel to T6 hybrid in Plus trim. 

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Meanwhile the eight-speed automatic gearbox – standard across the range – is fine for cruising, but it’s easy to catch it napping if you need a sudden burst of acceleration. Things are better if you override the box, but most models don't have paddles so you have to use the lever and its weird side-to-side action.

Presumably it’s not meant to be sporty…

Driver engagement certainly isn't the prime mission of the suspension. Instead you guide it through bends and it answers with unruffled decorum. The Volvo engineers must be getting more practiced at tuning these components, because most behaviours are subtly improved versus the XC90.

There’s optional air suspension with active damping. It's a success: switching from comfort to dynamic mode subtly makes things tauter and lessens tight-bend understeer. But both modes are comfortable while quelling the wheel hop and body float that sometimes sully the XC90. 

Safety systems include steering support if the car sees an obstacle ahead and you begin to swerve rather than stop. It'll help you pull the wheel, and use one-sided braking to keep the car pointing forwards. That's in addition to systems that help the car steer away from running off the road, or into the path of oncoming traffic, or into crossing junction traffic. And remember all Volvos are limited to 112mph nowadays because safety.

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Even the powerful T8 version?

Yup, which makes a slight mockery of the T8's Audi RS4-esque power output and shows the £8k-cheaper T6 Recharge as the more sensible option if it’s plug-in power that’ll work best for you.

But there’s an undeniable thrill to having this kind of power on tap in a car so sensible and squidgily suspended, and there’s huge flexibility to the powertrain. But if plug-in power works so well for you, then perhaps the similar power output offered by a fully electric Volvo XC40 Recharge or Polestar 2 would be just as suitable and cleaner still. Especially as a company car option.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Volvo XC60 2.0 T8 [455] RC PHEV Ultimate Dark 5dr AWD Gtron
  • 0-624.9s
  • CO2
  • BHP455
  • MPG
  • Price£64,425

the cheapest

Volvo XC60 2.0 B4D Momentum 5dr Geartronic
  • 0-628.3s
  • CO2
  • BHP197
  • MPG
  • Price£40,395
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