The New Volvo XC60 T5 AWD R-Design
"There are three driving modes, operative from a chrome finished rotating bar on the central tunnel, with settings for economy, a default ‘comfort’ everyday setting, and dynamic."
Volvos are like designer watches – you buy into the brand for its qualities. Volvo’s qualities are known to the world, with safety at its core. Whilst the majority of modern vehicles are now very safe, Volvo still lead the way.
Yet it’s not only the area of safety where modern Volvos score highly. The new second generation XC60 featured here is a highly complex piece of machinery, yet it oozes those simple brand values that enable Volvo many a loyal customer for decades. To ‘safety’, we must add exceptional build quality inside and out, refinement, durability, comfort and utility. It is these feats that create modern day Volvo appeal.
Innovation meets tradition
Admittedly, the new XC60 hardly represents a Volvo design revolution, but it is the first of Volvo’s mid-range 60 Series models to showcase its latest ‘design language’. In short, the clean simple lines remain, whilst the signature headlight and rear light clusters have been redesigned, and the lower door sections are now sculpted over the sill – to avoid scuffing your clothes when getting out of the car.
The T5 R-Design we drove comes with the added features of high gloss black grille, 19 inch alloys, dual integrated exhaust pipes, sports suspension, perforated leather, gearshift paddles and driver’s information display.
Inside the new XC60 is a rather elegant place to be; the finish is first-rate by any standards, whilst being roomy and comfortable in the front and rear, regardless of your height. It houses every imaginable piece of new technology, usefully incorporated into the Sensus 9-inch touchscreen. Whilst the XC60 represents in-car computer technology at its height, we didn’t find it particularly user friendly, requiring too much attention from the driver to make quick adjustments on the move. Thankfully it is all operative from a button on the steering wheel, but its comprehensiveness just encourages more fiddling with technology, which is bound to impact on the proportion of attention dedicated to the road for most drivers. It’s a bit of a challenge for any manufacturer, this one – the latest technology versus keeping it simple for driver safety and concentration. With your hands set at the recommended quarter to three safety position on the steering wheel, you can often accidentally switch stations or tracks as your finger catches the operating button, which happened several times to this driver and is annoying. Yet having a three stage heated steering wheel and an optional 15 speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system, full internet and app loading capability, makes it a rather irresistible package nonetheless.
We found actually driving the car the most rewarding experience. Whilst the steering is a little lifeless, the refinement, handling and grip of the XC60 T5 R is very good. Virtually every new passenger commented on its smoothness and refinement, as well as the first-rate fit and finish. It just feels impeccably well-made and very safe, not least with the added assurance of four-wheel drive, which comes standard with every model, as does the seamless eight speed gearbox.
There are three driving modes, operative from a chrome finished rotating bar on the central tunnel, with settings for economy, a default ‘comfort’ everyday setting, and dynamic. For the daily driver, all three will be put to good use; economy mode is great for crawling traffic, and the T5 really comes to life in dynamic for the quick cross country punt, thwarted only on the bends by the car’s weight and bulk, though not enough to detract from its sure-footed competence.
A winner for safety
It is of no surprise that this car scores highest on safety. It has to be one of the safest cars on the planet; it’s built like a tank, but the electronic safety aids are not just gimmicks, they keep both you and others safer on the road. The new XC60 introduces a novel safety innovation called Steer Assist which automatically provides additional steering input in an emergency to avoid collisions, there’s Pedestrian, Cyclist and Large Animal Detection too with fully automatic braking, and the satellite parking assistance gives you an aerial view of the car and surrounding potential hazards. Volvo’s vision is that no one will be killed or seriously injured by a new Volvo car by 2020. That’s ambitious...but it’s also believable.
Volvo XC60 T5 AWD R-Design
Engine: 4cyl 1969cc
Transmission: 8 speed auto
Top Speed: 137mph
Acceleration: 0-60mph 6.4 secs
Emissions CO2/g/km: 164/167
Average Fuel Consumption: 39.2mpg
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