We’ve had the new Volvo XC60 SUV with the D4 diesel engine and R-Design sporty trim in for review and road test. Is the new XC60 as good as the XC90?
The Volvo XC60 has never been a ‘Shouty’ SUV, but despite its laid back demeanour it’s managed to be a proper success for Volvo.
Even nearly a decade after it arrived as a smaller sibling for the then, and now, very able XC90, it managed to be the best selling mid-size SUV in Europe. Yep, it outsold more high profile stuff like the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Mercedes GLC and the Discovery Sport.
So launching an all new XC60 last year was a big deal for Volvo, with the new XC60 needing not only to appeal to all those loyal XC60 buyers who’ve kept the XC60 at the top of the tree for so long, but deliver a car which would appeal to a new generation of Volvo buyers, and match the desirability of the new XC90.
What Volvo delivered was a new XC60 which still looked more than close enough to the old XC60 to not alienate existing buyers, but one which had appealing new lines, lots of technology and more than a sprinkling of the Swedish cool the new XC90 brought with it.
Available in Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trims (and ‘Pro’ versions too), and with a variety of 2.0 litre diesel and petrol engines – and a plug-in hybrid too – the new XC60 covers a price range from around £33k right the way up to £60k (before options).
We’ve got the XC60 which is likely to be the biggest seller in the UK – the 2018 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design – in for a week for review and road test to see just what Volvo’s new mid-size SUV has to offer.
XC60 D4 R-Design Inside and out
What Volvo has managed to do with the design of the new XC60 is actually very clever.
They’ve managed to make the new XC60 look both like a shrunken XC90 and a slick new version of the previous XC60, both at the same time.
It’s a chunk less of a lump than the XC60, delivering five seats instead of seven in a cabin which is notably more roomy than the previous XC60, it delivers the statement face and Thor headlights you’d expect, but in a more sporty and rounded way.
The Volvo trademark tall tail lights are still in evidence on a back end which looks very cohesive, it’s a bit lower than the old XC60 – and a chunk lower than the XC90 – and it all adds up to a very convincing looking new XC60.
Thankfully, the same levels of cool Swedish luxury and minimalism we’ve seen in the new XC90 survive pretty much intact in the new XC60, which means high quality materials, great seats, plenty of kit and the Sensus portrait infotainment screen, which is very intuitive and very easy to use (whatever others may say).
Standard safety stuff is front and centre, with all the new XC60 models getting City Safety with Steer Assist, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-off Road Protection, as well as nice to haves like leather seats, that 9″ Infotainment screen, power tailgate, digital instruments and heated front seats.
But this car is the R-Design XC60, so it gets glossy black exterior highlights, 19″ alloys, mesh aluminum interior trims, dual tail pipes and Nappa and Nubuck upholstery.
But Volvo has hit the option box a fair few times on ths particular XC60, so there’s lots of extra toys fitted.
They include the Xenium Pack (Panoramic Glass Roof, 360 Camera and Park Assist Pilot), Intellisafe Pro with stuff like Pilot Assist, Adaptive Cruise and Rear Collision Mitigation, and the Winter Pack with Heated Steering wheel, Heated Front Screen and heated wipers.
Those three ‘Pack’ options add a hefty £4k to the price, and Volvo has also fitted individual extra like HUD, Power Memory Driver Seat, Premium Metallic paint and more to add another £4.5k.
You don’t actually need any of them, but they do make the XC60 a more complete package, even if they do push the price up to £48.5k.
Performance and on the road
You might look at the XC60, especially in this R-Design spec, and think it looks sporty and dynamic and would take the fight to SUVs like the F-Pace and Macan. But that’s not the point of the XC60.
Despite car reviewers thinking every car buyer on the planet wants an SUV that’s been honed at the Nurburgring to defy physics with its rock hard ride and driving dynamics, that’s not what real buyers want.
Want they actually want is something which acquits itself well, will go round bends without falling over, soothe in town and cruises quietly and competently on motorways and just…works. That it looks and feels Premium is a also must at this price point.
That’s why the last XC60 sold so well, and why the new XC60 will sell even better.
This is the (current) entry-level diesel and has to make do with 188bhp from its 2.0 litre diesel engine, and although it’s not a huge amount it’s enough to make sure the XC60 never really feels underpowered.
It pulls strongly, albeit a bit vocally if you really push hard, and means overtaking and fast slip road joins are easy to accomplish, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is good at what it does if not the last word in quick responses, and the steering goes exactly where you point it even if it doesn’t have the most feel, and around swift bends the XC60 rolls a bit, but not a lot.
That all sounds like a very average review of the XC60’s dynamics and on-road abilities, but it’s not.
Instead, it’s parise for the balance Volvo has delivered in the XC60 where, even in a sporty R-Design, everything is designed to work together brilliantly well to deliver the most soothing driving experience, with enough ability to keep you happy if you want to hustle, but a clear and defiant focus keeping driver and passengers cosseted for almost all the time.
It’s something Volvo does very well, and they’ve done it again with the XC60.
2018 XC60 D4 R-Design Verdict
We’ve always been big fans of the Volvo XC60, and this new generation XC60 really is a class act, cleverly delivering all that was good about the old XC60 but injecting a big dose of ‘New’ Volvo in to the mix.
It’s sharper to drive than the old XC60 – and the new XC90 – but it still manages to pull of the Volvo trick of being eminently competent on twisty roads but without the need for a season ticket to the chiropractor. It’s no hot hatch on stilts, but it’s well-judged and very capable.
The XC60 is also more wieldy than the XC90, and although it doesn’t offer the seven seats of the XC90 it’s still big enough to fit in five and their stuff.
The new exterior design manages to look just like an XC60, but an XC60 with a clear blood line to the XC90, and manages to look premium and appealing without needing to shout from the rooftops with glitz and gaud, even in this sporty-looking R-Design.
Inside the XC60 delivers all you expect after the XC90 set the benchmark, with the big portrait Sensus screen clearing away the clutter and making access to a plethora of functionality easy to navigate, the seats are good looking, comfy and supportive and it feels like a proper ‘Premium’ place to be.
The engines in the XC60 aren’t the most inspiring – their note is not something you covet and there’s a bit of noise if you push hard – but even this relatively modest D4 diesel is lively and competent, even if the gearbox can be a little slow to deliver what you ask at times.
If you want an all out performance SUV, then the XC60 isn’t for you. But for the rest of us, who want a great looking, very competent, comfortable and premium load lugger, the new Volvo XC60 really is as good as it gets in class.
And the new XC60 will no doubt maintain its place as the best-selling SUV in its class. And rightly so.
2018 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Review Quick Specs
- Engine: 1969cc, 188bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.4 seconds / Top Speed 127mph
- Economy: 55.4mpg – Official / 39.1mpg – Test
- Emissions: 133g/km
- Price: £39,705/ Price as tested £48,480
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK