Volvo’s XC90 has long been regarded as the perfect mid-to-large sport utility vehicle.
There are no arguments there, it is the quintessential seven-seater and its success globally speaks for itself.
However, its little brother also stands up to be counted, the XC60 represents much of what its stablemate commands, but is packaged as a five-seater only.
The XC60 would be the car for me, and in its latest iteration it is an absolute stunner. In saying that, I’m not really an SUV buyer, but sometimes a car just screams out perfection, and for that reason it’s hard to ignore the XC60.
The Volvo distributor here has taken the XC60’s arrival seriously. The range is comprehensive, there are five variants on offer, including a hybrid, and a huge range of colours. Prices range from $84,900 to $94,900.
The test car was a badged D5 and carried R-Design specification extras. In this form the XC60 is an absolute gem, it has build quality, features and performance to envy. Sure, its price tag of almost $95k is a little prohibitive for the family buyer, but what you get on the series is stunning.
Over the years I’ve written many times of my affection for air suspension, and the way the XC60 rides and drives is spectacular. It has that float-on-air feeling along with the other benefits of that system – ride-height adjustment and the ability to absorb uneven surfaces.
I’m not saying the XC60 is an off-roader, but it does get four-wheel-drive and it will tackle gentle cross-country tracks with dignity and aplomb.
Under the bonnet sits a twin-turbocharged, 2-litre diesel. Don’t let the D5’s nomenclature fool you, this engine isn’t one of the legendary five-cylinder designs of years gone by, it is, in fact, a four-cylinder unit and makes up for any disappointment with its amazing power outputs – 177kW and 500Nm.
Volvo also claims a 5.5-litre per 100km (51mpg) combined cycle fuel usage average.
The latter is not surprising, most modern diesels of this size will present you with figures in that area, and that is reinforced by the 7l/100km (40mpg) figure showing on the evaluation car’s fuel usage readout during my time with the vehicle. That along with a 5l/100km (56mpg) instantaneous figure sitting at the legal limit with the engine turning over freely at 1600rpm.
While these figures are impressive, take into account the areas where peak power is realised (4000rpm) and the flat torque curve – 1500rpm to 2500rpm – and you have an engine which delivers solid power from anywhere in the rev band.
Drive is channelled though a conventional eight-speed transmission, and together the two elements provide immediacy and fluid drive.
As a guide to performance the XC60 in this form will lunge to 100km/h in 7.1sec and will complete a highway overtake in 5sec, the mid-range boost is something wonderful; at road speed the XC60’s diesel engine is stroppy and forceful.
That’s the reason why I like the traditional 2-litre diesel, it has boost and torque like nothing else, it is vibrant to drive yet doesn’t lose sight of the need to promote healthy fuel usage statistics. It is also wonderfully quiet in its delivery.
Why I remarked earlier about the suspension is that the XC60 has handling manners other manufacturers must envy. The XC60 is wonderfully balanced for a 1.65m-tall vehicle, body movement is negligible and the suspension always seems composed.
The R-Design model has huge wheels and they are fitted with some of the world’s most desirable tyres – Pirelli PZero. At 255/40 x 21in, there is a lot of rubber on the road and there’s never a point where you feel like the tyres are struggling, corner turn-in is accurate and steering feedback delightful.
While the XC60’s all-round performance is remarkable, it must be remembered it is built with the Volvo values for safety and occupant comfort. It is also a true champion in that area with a high level of fitment and a layout which is clean aesthetically. I particularly like the large central screen which is a hugely intuitive iPad-like device and is the driver for most of the in-cabin functions.
The XC60 range is quite extensive, not only do you get conventional engines and transmissions, the hybrid will be the basis for when the company scales back production of internal combustion engines and focuses on hybrid and electric vehicles sometime after 2019.
In the meantime, it’s fantastic cars like the XC60 and others from the Volvo stable which will continue to lure buyers, simply because of its quality and rewarding driving experience.
Price – Volvo XC60 D5, $94,900
Dimensions – Length, 4688mm; width, 1902mm; height, 1658mm
Configuration – Four-cylinder, four-wheel-drive, 1969cc, 177kW, 500Nm, eight-speed automatic.
Fuel usage – 5.5l/100km