One way to celebrate a milestone is to walk back and find some of your favourite spots and sit in the shades of those beautiful spaces that gave you more contentment than the rest, more solace perhaps and even more excitement. Thus came the idea of getting back in the driver seat of the Volvo XC60 after it left me impressed as a worthy contender to the Audi Q5 in my 2012 drive – the same year in which it was close at the heel of the Q5 as Number two in the US news ranking and reviews.
UPSIDE: Smooth-riding family SUV, Attention to safety detail, Spacious rear and boot, Sedan like handling
FLIPSIDE: Few gadgets in top-end model, BLIS should be standard, Torque steer
The Specs: 2.0 L four-cylinder with 6-speed transmission, 240 hp and 320 Nm torque
The Price: AED 138,900 onwards with R-Design version at AED 209,900. Available as ‘Ocean Race edition’ also.
The mid-cycle refresh didn’t stop me from feeling totally familiar with all that I found in the XC60, inside out. This too was a T5 (they don’t import T6 here anymore) with the same amply powerful two litre engine and the same handling smiles as last time.
The design tweaks were few: like the way the bonnet greets the grill, the air dams and fenders, or the dual exhaust tail unit.They had more to do with the fact that my test car was a Volvo XC60 R-design. My 2012 test car was a Volvo Ocean Race edition, with crests and troughs forming the design motifs.
The Volvo console turns its neck so much towards the driver, that it can almost disorient the co-passenger till he gets used to this cabin design!
Cabin and Controls
Storage is plenty. Under the rolling lid on its tunnel console and under the armrest. There is even a place to safely stow away your mobile (remember, safety is the buzz word in a Volvo) just where the console joins the dash.
One of the sweeter things in the cabin is the eight-speaker music system. The radio and the Bluetooth are perhaps too simple when you consider some contemporary cabins. Look at this for example. To choose the address book, turn the knob towards your right and for the last dialled numbers, towards your left.
The cabin is navigation ready but the XC60 R-design edition did not have one installed. Surprising at its price. Same goes for some driver support systems that are commonplace these days. The BLIS or the blind spot information system was blissfully absent – something the Volvo XC60 should benefit from. While wide glasses keep the the surround view good, its narrow, rising window line leaves half a blind moment before the car behind your B pillar shows up on your shoulder check.
The XC60 cabin has a fairly large sunroof, and conveniently placed rear AC vents. One irritating little thing in the cabin was the way the front seatbelt buckle always fell downwards, leaving you fumbling for it.
The R-design adds a dash of sportiness to the XC60 with its black exterior and cabin trims as well as the perforated black leather that enwraps your wings somewhat like a Recaro styled seat. The Volvo XC60 doesn’t suffer much from body roll but the seats provide great support anyway, even with the few adjustments available.
The Volvo XC60 makes it clear that it is a city bred car. There is neither a button nor a lever in to suggest otherwise – it is an honest car, well… SUV. The smooth suspension settings gives the Swedish ride a sort of genteel air. The heart of T5 is a 2.0L four cylinder pot mated to a six speed transmission. With a remarkable 240 hp, the XC60 picks up impressively and is especially stable in the mid-range drive. As for the torque, 320 Newton metres available from 1,800 to 5,000 rpms is certainly enough.
Ask the steering.
The well-weighted and aptly sized R-design steering of my XC60 seemed to feel the squeeze of the torque every time I eagerly nudged it on. Still the steering is smooth and easygoing, with enough feedback from the 20 inch wheels.
As it happens, The handling is not as exciting as the Audi Q5 or as sloppy as the Koreans. The BMW may show more character when pushed into a corner. But the Volvo XC 60 makes up in all other departments to qualify for a reasonably engaging car and an excellent family SUV.
The only disappointment was the fuel efficiency figures of the XC60 during my current test – 7 kms per litre was a far throw from the book!
The seating and storage space in the rear are perhaps best in class – even the steeply concave rear windscreen doesn’t take away much from the loading bay. The tailgate is mounted with a touch-button.
There is nothing in this family space that the family wouldn’t like. One of the most silent SUV cabins offers a comfortable, cosy ride without intrusions of any sort – wind noise, road noise and hardly any road interference.
The XC60 R-design ticks all the safety boxes as a Volvo should. Side curtain airbags, inflated curtains, ISOFIX child seat settings, ABS and EBD (electronic brake distribution) plus, being a Volvo, the city safety feature which is nothing but a forward collision control system at low speeds.
What is the most impressive safety detail about the Volvo XC60 is something I’ve been disappointed about even in German SUVs – the one touch opening of the car door. Even while travelling, an accidental tug at the door lever could leave it open. Whereas this Volvo has double-lock safety: the first tug merely unlocks the door; it takes another to actually open it.
The rear seats are long-ride friendly but for the mid-seat, which is pretty hard to lean back on, effectively making this a car for four adults. That said, I should point out that my four year old chose to sit right in the middle all the time, buckled up like a gentleman and never raised a complaint.
The essential Volvo XC60
The balance that the XC60 maintains as an urban SUV, with a clear focus on family, comfort, space and safety, pushes it up the buying list of crossovers when you hit the hurdle that the R-design is inexplicably expensive: AED 209,900 and it’s not even a V6 or an AWD! While the R-design definitely looks nice and sporty, the Volvo XC60 that you can buy for forty grand less will satisfy you with almost everything that matters in this car. And more importantly, it should leave you with a sense of wicked accomplishment on choosing it over a BMW X3 or an Audi Q5. Like choosing Suede shoes over patent leather.
Drive Courtesy: Trading Enterprises Volvo
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy