I do not think it’s possible for Volvo to build a bad car at the moment – given the increasing number of utterly superb vehicles it’s launched over the past couple of years. And, given too that the company has publicly announced its intention to be “a leading player in the global automotive business by the middle of the next decade” and to “build a total of over five million direct consumer relationships” within that same timeframe, there is every reason to believe this will happen.
Still not convinced? The all-new XC60 you see here was earlier this year named World Car of the Year 2018 at the New York Auto Show – among other accolades it’s received, such as the North American Utility of the Year Award.
Globally the brand grew by 14,4 percent in the first half of this year, compared to the same period last year, and, even on local shores, the company is achieving great things. Traditionally seen as an almost unconventional choice in the South African market, the brand grew by an astonishing 13,7 percent over the same period!
And, right up at the front of this charge is that growing range of awesome new vehicles, including this XC60 D5 AWD Inscription – the brand’s all-new mid-size SUV. Following the success of the larger XC90, I suppose it was only natural for the new-generation XC60 to be something of an XC90-lite…
And that’s exactly what it is. The XC60 has a far more stately, suave presence about it than the model it replaces – the only “controversial” aspect being the rear-end light clusters, which were a talking point during my time with the car. The do, however, look awesome at night; complementing Volvo’s now staple Thor’s Hammer LED daytime running lights. These, by the way, extend out of the light housing to the edges of the grille – which is an easy way to quickly tell the XC90-lite apart from the actual XC90 should one approach you.
Another staple of new-generation Volvos is the design of the interior. While some might view it as a bit generic, there is no denying that Volvo has done a superb job with its interiors. Our top-spec Inscription model featured a pleasing light-wood inlay to, in conjunction with the elegant chromed styling lines that highlight certain elements of the interior, break the monotony of the black upholstery.
Oh, and somewhere in this chromed piece you’ll spot a little Easter Egg – a debossed Swedish flag – something Volvo now places (either conspicuously or inconspicuously) on all its models.
The power seats are infinitely adjustable, well bolstered and ever so comfy, and none of the five occupants will want for space. Interestingly, while materials and fit and finish are top-quality, the leather on the door armrests seemed to not be up to the same high standard as that around the rest of the car… Regardless, the XC60’s family-car appeal is further enhanced by the well-designed stowage spaces – which is accompanied by the sizeable 505-l utility space (which, itself, features handy under-floor stowage space).
Yet another central feature of all modern Volvos is the Sensus Connect nine-inch vertical touch-screen infotainment system. Much has been written about this system in the past – suffice it to say that it’s just about as user-friendly as such systems get and offers everything one would need; including navigation, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
Family buyers will also be happy to know that the XC60 features Volvo’s acclaimed IntelliSafe Surround suite of safety aids. Its City Safety Autonomous Emergency Braking system has been enhanced with steering support for when automatic braking alone may not help avoid a potential collision. In addition, Oncoming Lane Mitigation with Steer Assist (which helps mitigate head-on collisions) and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Steer Assist functionality, have been added to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions.
So what’s it actually like to drive, then? The D5 model produces a stout 173 kW and 480 Nm which ensures that you’ll move along at a fair pace … in utter comfort, of course, thanks to the adjustable air suspension. This car seriously is lovely to drive – although there are one or two little niggles worth mentioning.
The first is that the air suspension is not entirely composed at all times; sometimes feeling too floaty and other times too firm. However, you soon get used to this characteristic. Another concern is the refinement of the eight-speed automatic gearbox, which really could be better. Finally, a common criticism of the brand’s Drive-E four-cylinder engines, the diesel is slightly louder and less refined than expected – but still good for a four-cylinder.
Oh, and it was unexpectedly heavy on fuel – during my week I averaged 12,6 l/100 km, a figure I’m certain could be bettered. Volvo, after all, claims a combined-cycle consumption of 5,5.
I’ll tell you what, though, none of these niggles mattered – such was the extent to which I enjoyed my time with the XC60. At R776 700 it offers some good value in a very competitive segment. It is svelte and sublime. It’s packed with tech and decent to drive. It cossets its occupants, making them feel calm and relaxed. It, almost, makes the XC90 redundant…
Which could be a bad thing, given the brand’s undeniable charge into the future…
CyberStoep rating: 7,5/10