REVIEW: Volvo XC60
REMEMBER the famous line about Volvo from the movie Crazy People? "Buy Volvos - they're boxy but they're good.”
Things have changed dramatically over the past decade, although the styling of the XC60 is like heading back to the future.
Not only is this Volvo safe with benchmark technology to protect its occupants, it doesn't forgo design.
Some of the square lines have returned, yet it maintains modern proportions which ensure it doesn't look out of place among the best Europeans battling for supremacy on the medium-size prestige SUV catwalk.
Volvo, feeling rejuvenated courtesy of an injection of funding from Chinese parent company Geely, continues its SUV makeover this month with the launch of the smaller XC40.
Between the XC40, XC60 and larger XC90 there is clear family lineage. It's particularly noticeable between the latter two...and for good reason. Nearly half of the components are shared.
That's a good thing, because the XC90 is a cracking car. The XC60 range starts from $59,990, although the T6 R-Design has a retail price of $76,990 before on-roads.
From the moment you're inside, there is a sense of precision. Given how much is borrowed from the XC90, which was designed for the premium segment, the smaller sibling reaps all the rewards.
It's the little things, like curved edges throughout, the smooth cohesive layout around a central vertical display and the hidden expansion joints.
Basic equipment at this level remains strong, highlighted by the 10-speaker sound system partnered to a nine-inch touch-screen, digital radio, driver's 12.3-inch digital instrument display, four-zone climate control, smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, high-end leather trim and electric powers seats (the driver's drops back to allow for ease ofentry and exit).
Being the R-Design, it also gains some extra sporting touches, like three-spoke steering wheel with paddle shifters, perforated leather gear knob along with external trinkets via a special grille, colour-coded sills and bumpers, as well as twin tailpipes and 21-inch wheels.
Our test offering was further bolstered by a raft of options, like the $2500 lifestyle pack which includes heated front seats, panoramic sunroof and tinted rear glass; as well as heated rear seat ($350), active chassis with air suspension ($2490), front seats power cushion extension ($350), metallic paint ($1900), and a charcoal interior and front seat ventilation ($2950).
That took the on-road price to more than $90,000.
Comfort came before handling during development, and that's evident from the outset.
Firing the engine requires a turn of a central lever, and it's the same process for shutting it down.
Once underway, the T6 powertrain quickly shows is might.
The four-cylinder petrol engine is supercharged and turbocharged, which is good for a sprint from standstill to 100km/h in less than six seconds. That kind of ability trumps many sports cars.
All-wheel drive keeps it planted, and it's remarkably light through the steering in comfort mode. Though this is the most dynamic of the X60 bunch, and stiffer springs and dampers help minimise roll in the bends.
It sliced and diced on one of our most testing rural stretches. Sawing left and right through some twisties barely ruffled its feathers, and when opting for its most athletic driving mode it delivered heavier steering and an instantaneous response under acceleration.
Despite that firmer suspension it still managed to soak up the bumps with aplomb, while parking proved outstandingly easy despite some tight challenges.
Fuel consumption can get above 10 litres for every 100km without care on the right pedal, with Volvo's official average 8.0 litres.
Cabin comfort is impressive for five adults, while boot space is a useful 505 litres - it's not class-leading, but it is bigger than the old Commodore. Split-folding rear seats sees the space expand to 1432 litres.
Having the optional air suspension also means adjustable rear height. A button in the boot allows you to drop the car 5cm if you are trying to load heavy items or hitching something to the tow ball.
Operationally it's all straight forward, the touchscreen works like an iPad with pinching and scrolling, while it's a minimalist design meaning fewer buttons and dials but you just have to get used to everything being accessed through the touchscreen.
Would you expect anything less than five stars? It has what you'd expect, features like radar cruise control to always maintain a safe distance from vehicles in front, seven airbags, warnings which alert and stop the driver from straying outside the lane, and a head-up digital display that shows information like a digital speedo, as well as functionality which constantly shows the speed limit by reading signs. But it also has a range of cool inventions.
There's City Safety which detects cars, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, that can brake automatically to help you avoid or mitigate an impact. It's aided by Steering Support which operates between 50-100km/h to apply braking to the inside wheels and also bolster the steering response.
Then there's the front seats that are designed to absorb energy to cushion passengers under severe vertical forces, like travelling off road.
Distinctively different in the world of premium SUVs despite a conventional shape.
The modern minimalist interior is loveable, and a great drive day-to-day. Plus the World Car of the Year judges also agree, this is a cracking car.
Mercedes-Benz GLC 250 $70,611
Good standard kit, while it's smooth and quick in the corners. Tough to beat in this realm.
BMW X3 30i $76,900
Sits flat when cornering and the response from the engine when accelerating is super strong.
Audi Q5 TFSI Sport $73,211
Good all-round package with innovative driver assistance features.
AT A GLANCE
VOLVO XC60 T6 R-DESIGN
PRICE $76,990 (competitive)
WARRANTY AND SERVICING 3 years/unlimited km, $2225 for 3 years (expensive)
ENGINE 2.0-litre 4-cyl twin charged, 235kW/400Nm (a cracker)
SAFETY 5 stars, 7 airbags, city safety, steering assist, Pilot Assist (best around)
CONSUMPTION 8.0L/100km (fine)
SPARE Space-saver (expected)
BOOT 505L/1432L (ok)