2018 Volvo XC60 D4
$66,990 (plus on-roads); price as tested $80,790 (plus on-roads)
(4 / 5)
Volvo’s entry into the premium mid-sized SUV market has a huge task ahead of it – being noticed in a sea of excellent products. So can Sweden take on the mighty British and German empires?
Stand near the front of the new Volvo XC60 and you’ll notice something rather special. It’s called the “Mjölnir”, and while it would normally be crafted from the fictional Asgardian metal “uru”, this one is projected by LED lights and polycarbonate.
Yes, the ‘Hammer of Thor’ LED daytime running lights are well and truly positioned in pride-of-place in the XC60’s headlights. It helps the new Volvo SUV to carry off the current corporate face, making it one of the best looking medium SUVs on sale.
And it needs to stand out, too. The mid-size premium SUV market is so hotly contested that every brand has put a contender into the ring over the past few years. The Audi Q5, BMW X3, Jaguar F-Pace, Mercedes-Benz GLC and the Range Rover Velar are all battling it out in one of the fastest growing segments worldwide.
So, how does the XC60 fare in D4 diesel guise? After a week behind the wheel, we have the answers.
There’s no argument that the new XC60 is leaps and bounds ahead of the previous model, both inside and out. It’s unmistakably a Volvo from both the front view and rear view, and shares many of its styling cues with its bigger brother, the XC90. In fact, it shares so many, that it could be considered a shrunken XC90.
It especially looks good with larger wheels, though that does nothing for passenger comfort; more on the ride later.
The proportions are just right, and the Volvo trademark scalloped tail lights and bodywork also make an appearance here. Yet despite its looks, it never suffers from compromised interior space.
Clearly this generation of XC60 is far bigger than the car it replaces. But it’s still not a massive, unwieldy machine.
The space is one of the highlights. While the XC90 is a seven seater, the XC60 is only a five seater, yet it’s one of the largest five seaters in its class.
The front passengers benefit from an expansive area, but it’s the rear seat passengers that really see the clever design of the XC60. The rear legroom is massive, and it feels like the XC90 sitting back there. The packaging is so well done that despite it being shorter overall than, say, the Merc GLC, it’s much larger inside.
There are cupholders which are covered with woodgrain trim (in a sliding bread-bin style) so everything can be put away and neat, while the glovebox and door pockets are perfect for storing water bottles.
Four-zone climate control (the rear passengers are able to control their own zone), a humidity sensor, cooled glovebox and
The boot space is average, at 495 litres, but the height inside means it’s easy to load, and with fold flat rear seats, it’s practical, too. So, yes, it will happy help with transporting a few “Besta” flatpacks – it is Swedish, after all.
Step inside and it’s immediately clear that the build quality is first rate, and the materials used are excellent, too. The whole car feels solid and screwed together as well as anything else in this segment.
The little embossed Swedish flag below the left-hand air vent is the clue that it’s full of Scandy design touches, though the flag looks a little out of place on the smooth chrome line.
The leather on the seats feels beautiful (and smells expensive, too), while all control surfaces have a solidity to their tactility. The presentation is almost identical to the larger XC90. To look at, only trainspotters will tell the difference. And that’s no bad thing.
There’s a massive portrait-style touchscreen for both the infotainment and climate control, which is easy to use, great to look at, and allows full screen mapping. In this age of digital screens, it will be second nature to anyone under 35.
The menus are exhaustive, however it’s not altogether intutitive. Some of the driver assist functions, which are normally just a press button on other cars, are buried in the settings menu, taking a couple of screens to get to.
It works like an iPad, with swipe actions and a home button which sits at the bottom, but it often takes a couple of minutes to search through to find what you’re after. Not great while on the move, but we’re sure that once you’ve spent some time with it, you’d get used to where everything is.
The rest of the ergonomics are excellent. The climate control is a simple tap at the bottom of the screen, the start toggle and the drive mode select buttons are in the centre console, while the audio volume dial and shortcut buttons are actual physical controls.
The Bowers and Wilkins stereo is among the best we’ve ever heard, though it doesn’t come cheap – at $4500, you’ll want to love your audio to appreciate how good it really is.
The instruments are also taken care of digitally, with a 12.3-inch screen displaying dials and relevant driving information.
How does it drive?
The XC60 is without a doubt a beautiful machine inside, and stylish outside. But if it drives like a Citroen 2CV, then it’s not really worth the $67K asking price, is it?
Using the toggle switch on the centre console, a simple twist brings the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-diesel to life. It settles into a smooth idle (for a diesel), and the smoothness gets better as you start accelerating.
Producing 140kW and 400Nm, the diesel engine’s outputs are good, if not record-breaking, but if you crave even more power there’s a larger diesel available, the D5.
Coupled to a very smooth-shifting eight-speed auto, the engine is kept in the thick of its torque curve, and it will get to 100kmh in 8.4 seconds. That’s enough to get it ahead of traffic if need be, and plenty for overtaking on country roads. Again, there’s enough power for most, especially given the target market of the XC60. And if you’re not a fan of oil-burners, there are petrol engines available as well.
This 2.0-litre D4 diesel engine is also quite economical, returning 5.4L/100km on the official combined cycle. That said, our week of city driving saw 7.5L/100km on the trip meter.
The steering is very light, and has more consistent weighting than the XC90, but it still feels distant compared with the X3 and GLC. It does turn well and with its larger wheels, its handling is confident and stable.
But the bigger wheels do impinge on the ride quality, which is a tad firm for the target market, who are wanting a plush machine rather than a sports car.
The XC60 is also a safe car. So safe, in fact, that it’s set the record for the highest scores in safety assistance systems and adult occupant protection. Needless to say that it received a five star safety score from ANCAP.
Here’s the deal
The XC60 D4 is clearly aimed at those who want a safe, well-built, spacious SUV that drives inoffensively and is economical. And it covers all those bases. Of course, the ride could be better and some of the options are quite expensive. But its high-end looks, fabulous materials and smooth drivetrain means it happily will compete with the current premium medium SUV market.
More than that, it has leapfrogged the established players to become one of the most desirable SUVs in the segment.
2018 Volvo XC60 D4 Specifications
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Power: 140kW @ 4250rpm
Max torque: 400Nm @ 1750-2500rpm
0-100km/h: 8.4 seconds
Top speed: 205 km/h
Fuel consumption: 5.4 L/100km
CO2 emissions: 143 g/km
Fuel tank: 60 litres
Weight: 1865 kg
Transmission Automatic: 8-speed Adaptive Geartronic
Steering: Electric Power Assist