The Volvo XC60’s a relaxing motorway cruiser and runs the Audi Q5 close in terms of outright comfort – larger alloy wheels don’t help its ride, however
You can get the Volvo XC60 with a range of 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engines – two diesel, one petrol and a petrol-electric hybrid.
The best all-rounder is the entry-level D4 diesel with 190hp. It’s powerful enough to cruise happily at motorway speeds but it does grumble slightly if you accelerate hard. Volvo claims it’ll return 54.3mpg but, in the real world, you’ll probably achieve a figure in the low forties.
Pick a more powerful 235hp D5 model if you plan to tow a trailer. It costs around £5,000 more than a D4 but it’ll make light work of pulling a caravan and will return near-identical fuel economy. It’s not quite as quiet as the Audi Q5’s hushed 2.0-litre diesel engine, however.
Pick the optional £2,000 air suspension and the XC60 drives as smoothly as its slick looks would suggest
The 254hp T5 petrol is smoother around town than both diesels and feels faster if you accelerate hard but it’s noticeably thirstier at motorway speeds. Volvo claims it’ll return 38.7mpg but you’ll be lucky to see a figure in the low thirties.
The sportiest Volvo XC60 is the hybrid T8. It’ll set you back around £20,000 more than an entry-level D4 but the 407hp produced by its 2.0-litre petrol engine and electric motor means it can rocket from 0-62mph in just 4.9 seconds. That’s serious sports car territory in a comfortable and stylish SUV.
Matching the T8’s claimed 134.5mpg economy figure will be nearly impossible, even with a light right foot. What’s more achievable, however, is its 28-mile electric range – if you live just a short distance from work you can commute using electric power alone. This model is exempt from the London Congestion Charge, too, making it an attractive proposition if you regularly commute into the Capital.
The Volvo XC60’s standard-fit automatic gearbox changes gear smoothly and takes a bit of stress out of town driving, too, but is sluggish when you want to accelerate suddenly. There’s also the option of a six-speed manual gearbox, but it isn’t the nicest to use and the automatic gearbox better suits the Volvo XC60’s relaxed manner.
The Volvo XC60 doesn’t have quite the same raised driving position as the larger XC90 but it’s 30cm shorter and slightly easier to drive around town. The fairly slim door pillars don’t produce large blind spots at junctions and the large side windows make it easy to glance over your shoulder to check for overtaking traffic on the motorway.
A 360-degree camera is available as an option that’ll help make navigating through tight city streets a little less stressful while a park assist feature – which can steer you into parallel and bay parking spaces – is offered as part of the Xenium package, which also includes a sunroof. It’s worth having this pack if you do lots of city driving.
Speaking of which, the Volvo XC60 isn’t quite as comfortable as the Q5 or GLC over potholed roads – especially with the larger 21-inch wheels fitted – but you can fit it with adaptive air suspension to help smooth out bigger bumps and potholes. This feature will set you back quite a bit on all but R Design Pro and Inscription Pro models (where it’s fitted as standard) but it makes the XC60 very nearly as relaxing to drive as the silky smooth Q5 – making it an essential option if you want maximum comfort.
The upgraded suspension comes with the option to raise the XC60’s ride height by 40mm if you decide to head off the beaten track. All models come with four-wheel drive as standard – so they won’t be flummoxed by slippy roads – a Land Rover Discovery Sport will leave the stylish Volvo for dead on any particularly challenging terrain, however.
Keep your activities on the road, however, and the XC60’s nicer to drive than the softly-sprung Discovery Sport. It doesn’t lean excessively in tight corners and has plenty of grip. Top-spec T8 models are even fast enough to put a wholly un-Swedish smile on your face. Even so, and Audi Q5 ultimately feels more agile again.
The Volvo XC60 can even drive itself on motorways for brief periods when fitted with the optional Intellisafe package – providing you keep your hands resting on the wheel – and can automatically adjust its speed to match other vehicles. It also comes with a vast array of airbags as standard and features a number of advanced active safety features that’ll guide you around obstacles and brake for you to help avoid a collision.
All that helped the Volvo XC60 achieve a full five stars in its Euro NCAP crash test. In fact, it’s one of the safest cars Euro NCAP has ever tested.