This week we have the Volvo XC60 D4 SE Nav in for review, still Volvo’s best-selling car, and now equipped with the latest D4 Drive-E engine.
For many, when considering what the market offers in the way of premium, mid-size, SUVs, most will consider the best-selling models are likely to be the BMW X3, Audi Q5 or even the Range Rover Evoque. But they’d be wrong. In fact this, the 2016 Volvo XC60 , sells more in Europe than any of the other contenders.
Which is quite a shock when you consider the competition all offer cars that have been on the market for a shorter time than the XC60, which we first saw in 2008, and, on the face of it, perhaps offer more glitz and glamour than Volvo’s SUV.
But the XC60’s success puts paid to the commonly held belief that what buyers of SUVs want is lots of glitz and a chassis honed in the Nurburgring, when they clearly prefer something a bit more comfortable, with a focus not on being ‘in yer face’, but on offering a car that doesn’t wind up other drivers, has bags of safety features, good looks and oodles of practicality.
Now, even though the XC60 is coming towards the end of its life (we’ll get an all new XC60 in 2017), Volvo has improved things further with the new Drive-E 2.0 litre diesels, which are more economical and more rewarding than Volvo’s old engines, so we’ve grabbed the (almost) entry-level spec XC60 SE Nav with the new D4 engine delivering 187bhp for a week from Volvo.
Inside and out
Although the XC60 has been around since 2008, it’s still basically the same shape car as it’s always been, although Volvo has tweaked the cosmetics over the years and the XC60 now looks more purposeful and able than it originally did, although it manages to do that without acres of bling.
The chrome bar grill gives the XC60 width, the headlights sweep upwards towards the wings, the skid plate adds a bit of purpose, the rising line up the side accentuates the slightly nose-down stance, and the typically Volvo tall rear lights, curved rear glass in the tailgate and integrated tail pipes each side of the rear skid plate look cohesive. It’s still a convincing design.
Inside is also Volvo good, with ample room in the front (although it’s less commodious in the back than we’d like), and the seats are, as we’ve come to expect from Volvo, both comfortable and supportive, although in SE spec they’re cloth rather than leather.
Volvo’s floating centre console and its mass of buttons still looks good – and functions well once you’re used to it – the boot swallows up a decent amount of stuff (and the back seats fold easily – 40|20|40 – and fold flat).
Volvo has added the two ‘Packs’ to this car that you really ought to budget for – the Driver Support Pack and Winter Pack – which adds in extra toys, including heated seats and windscreen and a raft of extra safety equipment including Collision warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Adaptive Cruise, Lane Departure Warning, BLIS, Cross Traffic Alert and more.
The two packs (details below) push this XC60 D4 SE Nav up from a list price of £32,460 to £34,885 (and a individual options increase that further to £38,045), but they do make the XC60 more complete.
Performance and on the road
The Volvo XC60 may be a high-riding SUV, but it does a very good impression of being a sensibly sorted hatchback or saloon, with a pleasingly responsive set-up that gives a ride and dynamics that suit both the car and its owners.
It’s not the most dynamic in its class, but it corners with little roll, is, in the main, neutral when hustled and, with the exception of the most appalling ridges and potholes, able to soak up the road without transferring pitted surfaces to the cabin.
But the star part of this XC60 is Volvo’s latest 2.0 litre drive-E engine, which delivers its 187bhp and 295lb/ft of torque willingly and without fuss.
Performance is as good as anything else in its class, with 0-62mph in 8.1 seconds, and it never feels anything less than lively, although a heavy right foot can elicit more than a touch of torque steer from the front wheels.
But as well as lively, the D4 is also impressively frugal; official economy and emissions are 62.8mpg and 117g/km, and we managed to average 43.7mpg over a week and a lot of mixed driving. That’s better than we’d expect to get in a similar X3 or Range Rover Evoque, meaning lower fuel bills and lower BIK.
But it’s nimble, and almost fun, on twisty roads, quiet and refined around town and an able motorway cruiser, with the diesel engine only making itself heard if you push to the top of the rev range.
In many ways, the XC60 – especially in this relatively lowly spec – is the perfect compromise for a family SUV, with enough power to make it fun and enough comfort not to let that fun wreck the journey for passengers.
The Volvo XC60 may be the old man of the mid-size premium SUVs, but it’s managed to pull off the clever trick of maturing, rather than ageing.
That clever trick is ably demonstrated by the XC60’s sales figures – the best seller in its class in Europe – and it’s down to Volvo’s desire to create a family SUV that doesn’t slavishly follow the German pack’s lead.
Volvo’s own take on what a sensible premium SUV should be features a bigger emphasis on comfort, a high level of safety technology, its own take on a premium cabin which, even in this now ‘old school’ Volvo cabin, is as appealing in its own way as the Germans and Land Rover, and some clever updates during its life cycle.
Those cosmetic updates have kept the XC60 looking modern without becoming crass or flash, and the new D4 engine has made the XC60 the match – and better – of anything the competition can offer, unless you’re buying a family SUV for a bit of bling and a Nurburgring chassis, and then you’d be better off with the Germans or Land Rover.
But for real buyers in the real world, the Volvo XC60 – and its D4 engine – is clearly the most appealing option at the moment.
And we can understand why.
Volvo XC60 D4 SE Nav Manual Review Quick Specs
- Engine: 1969cc, 187bhp
- Performance: 0-62mph 8.1 seconds / Top Speed 130mph
- Economy: 62.8mpg – Official / 43.7mpg – Test
- Emissions: 117g/km
- Price: £32,460 / Price as tested £38,045
- Test car supplied by Volvo UK
Test car options
Driver Support Pack – £1,900
- Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake
- Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection
- Adaptive Cruse Control (ACC) and Distance Alert
- Lane Departure Warning
- Driver Alert Control (DAC) with Active High Beam
- Road Sign Information Display
- Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert (CTA)
Winter Pack – £525
- Heated Front Seats
- Heated Front Windscreen
- Headlight Cleaning System
- Heated Washer Nozzles
- Metallic Paint £625
- Keyless Drive with Personal Car Communicator £500
- Active TFT Crystal Driver’s Information Display £350
- Dark Tinted Windows – Rear Side Doors and Cargo Area £350
- Volvo on Call with App £450
- Tempa Spare Wheel and Jack £150
Detachable Towbar – 13 Pin £735