What is it?
The new XC60 is the second generation of Volvo’s premium mid-size SUV. The five-seater is one of the first Volvo cars to feature the brand’s snazzy new look and advanced technology. It’s up against fellow premium SUVs including the Jaguar F-Pace, Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC and BMW X3.
Who is it aimed at?
The previous XC60 was the best selling Volvo ever. It’s reliability and focus on comfort made it hugely popular with families. This new version should prove popular with loyal Volvo fans as well as customers attracted by the new look. It’s safe too, with three different systems as standard including emergency braking, collision warning system and stability control.
Volvo have really upped the ante design-wise. Compared to most SUVs the XC60 is stylish to look at with simple, graphic design lines and elegant details that modern car buyers love. My T8 Inscription Pro in Onyx Black with blond leather interior, 20” diamond-cut alloys and chrome grille was easily the most aggressive Volvo I’ve ever seen.
What options are there? AKA the techy bit…
The range has two diesels, the D4 and D5, a T5 petrol and a petrol-electric T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid (of which I’m testing). Power ranges from 190hp to 407hp for the T8, with CO2 emissions from as little as 49g/km (T8 again). The T8 Twin Engine has a supercharged and turbocharged 320 hp petrol engine that powers the front wheels and an 87 hp electric motor that drives the rears. It’s possible to drive up to 28 miles in electric-only mode when the petrol engine kicks in and recharges it when flat or you can simply plug it in and charge it (two and a half hours for a fast charge).
The three trim levels – Momentum, R-Design and Inscription – are all available with extra Pro additions but as standard come with pretty generous equipment such as a 9” centre console touch screen, voice activation, heated front seats, City Safety system, Drive Mode settings and much more.
What’s the interior like?
This is Volvo’s forte and the XC60 doesn’t disappoint. In fact the interior is possibly one of the most luxurious I’ve ever spent time in. Ever. Think butter-soft leather, immaculately designed buttons that are satisfyingly cool and chunky to the touch (no fake metal here), and a touchscreen that’s easy and innovative to use.
Everything looks well thought out and streamlined. The back seats are luxurious and practical with helpful storage pockets and fancy head height air con that really works a treat.
Oh, and probably the best thing – the Inscription trim comes with leather seats that are ventilated so in the summer you simply turn the button on and look smug while your bottom is enjoying a lovely cool breeze. No sweaty leather seats here. The boot size is good too, at 505 litres (slightly smaller for the T8).
How does it drive?
The T8 drive is all about wafting seamlessly from A to B. Put your foot down and you find yourself gliding smoothly and very quickly, with almost no noise. The car is so quiet and able to absorb bumps it makes even the worst pothole-ridden London road comfortable. And I guess that’s the point; the XC60 T8 is built for comfort, not all out driving fun. But that left me feeling puzzled about who would buy this car when you consider this is the sportiest of the range..
It was great fun playing with the five different driving modes, particularly when changing from Hybrid mode to Sport when the bonnet would rise up and the suspension felt less spongelike. The XC60 comes with all-wheel drive as standard and it’s very capable off-road too (see muddy wheels above).
With ultra light steering parking is a doddle, even in such a large, tall car, but the downside is that there is little to no actual feedback during general driving.
What about its eco credentials?
Volvo was the first large car maker to announce its plans to go fully electric – by 2019 every new Volvo will have an electric motor.
The T8 is a flagship model for the brand with a claimed 134 mpg combined. The thing is I only managed 29 mpg… with a mixture of town and country driving. Mostly driven in Hybrid mode the electric motor ran out very quickly so whilst it charged it back up the car was pretty much always using the petrol engine. The same goes for when you put your foot down, the petrol overrides the electric automatically and used quite a bit of fuel.
A solution could be to charge it from home and use the electric mode just to do a short school run or the commute but you only have 28 miles to play with before you’re basically driving a heavy sports SUV around with associated fuel costs. Something to ponder over.
Despite its limited appeal, the T8 is a lovely thing to be in. It’s so relaxing, it parks itself, makes life easy for you if you have kids in tow and much more. If that’s the kind of car you’re after then this could be just the ticket.
Car on test: Volvo XC60 T8 Twin Engine AWD Inscription Pro
0-62mph: 5.3 seconds
Power: 407 bhp
Transmission: eight-speed auto
CO2 Emissions: 123g/km
Economy: 134.5 mpg combined claimed, 29 when tested
Price: XC60 range (D4 Momentum) starts from £37,205, the T8 from £57,950 (£66,650 for test model)