Boy oh boy, do we love the Swedes or what! They get some of the most picturesque locations in the world, lots of snow to go sideways and some overwhelming safety systems on automobiles. If you haven’t caught our drift yet; we are talking about Volvo that continues to deliver some of the safest cars globally. So our last weekend was all about exploring the world of Volvo as the automaker handed us keys to its very capable XC60 that recently received an update. With a bold exterior and a mighty diesel motor under the hood, we took this very handsome SUV in and around Mumbai for a spin. Was it fun? Read on to find out.
How does it look?
One glance at the Volvo XC60 and it distinctively stands out against every other luxury SUV available at the same price. Volvo updated the XC60 in late 2014 adding a bold new appeal to the exteriors. The front fascia sports a wider grille that attracts maximum attention and is complimented by a wide honeycomb mesh grille on the bumper air intake. The headlights are now sleeker and move back towards the fenders incorporating the projector lights. The LED daytime running lights (DRLs) are now neatly incorporated within the bumper at either sides and gets black enclosures for a smart look. Our test car was equipped with the R-Design package and the front grille sported the badge giving away its sporty credentials.
The side profile looks agile and has a certain front forward stance giving a sense of urgency. The beltline is consistently receding upwards and matches the funky vertically tail light cluster at the rear. However, the receding shoulder-line does reduce glasshouse area on the XC60. The R-Design package also adds these striking 5-spoke alloy wheels. This helps the XC60 boast of a larger profile without adding the visual implication.
Completely different from other offerings, the XC60 gets the trademark Volvo rear profile. The rear looks wider in size thanks to the bulging rear fenders, while the leaning windscreen adds a boxy look to the rear. The LED tail lights start from the top extending up to the shoulder line and looks nothing short of a Christmas tree when lit up. You also get a roof mounted rear spoiler with an integrated centre stoplight, while the tailgate holds the number plate enclosure in the centre. The body coloured rear bumper gets reflectors on either side, whereas the lower section gets a black diffuser that helps reduce visual bulk on the SUV. The chrome-tipped twin exhausts look sporty.
What is it from the inside?
With a design that pleases your eye, the cabin too is a splendid place to be seen in. Step inside and the all-black interiors let you know that this baby means business. The ingress and egress is extremely easy for people of all sizes and the doors close with a confidence-inspiring thud. Quality levels throughout the cabin are top notch and there is nothing you will find to crib about on that front. The instrument cluster is an all-digital unit and has a lot of information on display. Slip it into sport mode and the gearshift indicator will also be available on display.
We loved the three colour scheme that Volvo has introduced on the XC60’s instrument console. While we chose to keep the Performance theme turning everything to red, you can also choose between Eco or Elegance that turn the console to light blue or midnight blue. Move towards the centre and you are greeted with an infotainment screen that can be controlled using the dial below the AC vents. However, we do feel a touchscreen infotainment unit would’ve made things easier.
The floating centre console is unique to Volvo cars, and in the XC60 too, it lends a clutter free look. The centre console is segregated like a phone keypad improving the functionality. It boasts of excellent switch quality and is tilted towards driver for better access. You get aluminium finished pedals on the XC60 that look extremely sporty and compel you to forget it is an SUV. The leather wrapped steering wheel looks really classy, but is grippy at the same time, which enhances the precision and handling of the car. It is a multi-function unit and gives you access to take calls, change audio volume and other settings, including ccruise control. The buttons though are a little hard than you would normally use and does take some time to get used to.
The Volvo XC60 is a strict 5-seater and the compact dimensions do show up inside the cabin. The sports seats offer a snug fit and adjust very aptly to one’s body. However, headroom is limited and height adjustability only works till a certain degree. Short passengers do complain of the seat not moving higher and Volvo needs to work on providing adequate height travel. Nevertheless, under thigh support is excellent with decent legroom at the front and rear. You also get memory function for front seats, which is a boon if you have multiple drivers.
What we loved was the attention to detail over the cabin with small bits like the double stitching on the steering wheel and door pads as well as the soft leather upholstery. There is an R-Design logo at the centre of the steering wheel and it’s something the driver will love boasting about. There is ample of storage space inside the cabin with the ticket holder on the windshield being a nice touch. For your acoustic needs, the XC60 comes with a Harman Kardon audio system that translates the beats perfectly. Cabin insulation is excellent and cuts you off completely from the outside world and save for the oil burner’s initial clatter, no much filters into the cabin.
The Volvo XC60 also comes with a panoramic sunroof, which while not a very large unit, does allow lots of light to enter the cabin making it feel roomier. We also appreciate the rear view camera that works well and is needed for a vehicle of this size. Coming to the boot capacity, the SUV comes with a large boot measuring 495 litres and can be further expanded by pushing the rear seats down that split into 40:20:40. For those looking to use this luxury SUV as a daily driver, the XC60 surely does not disappoint.
How does it drive?
Volvo updated the XC60 last year with a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel Drive-E engine that has improved on several levels ranging from power output to refinement. The motor produces 181 BHP of power available at 4250 RPM, while there is 400 Nm of torque that arrives almost immediately starting from 1750 RPM to 2500 RPM. Turbo lag is well contained and there is hardly ever any loss of power. If you still feel that power is lacking, the guys at Volvo can get the Polestar package for you at an extra cost that will improve the performance output by a significant margin.
The stock motor though comes paired to the new 8-speed gearbox that offers quick and smooth shifts sending power only to the front wheels. If you are feeling excited enough, slip the chunky round gear knob into sport mode and the car will hold every gear for you till the redline for maximum performance. The engine is at its audible best at this time and offers a sweet sounding grunt translating into the cabin. The XC60 has an unbelievably great pickup, which will lead to the car literally bending backwards, and you being pushed into the seats with a sudden jerk. Down shifting though isn’t its biggest forte as you do feel a slight delay. If you are a manual lover, the ergonomically placed paddle shifters will do the trick for you. You also get an Eco Pro mode for optimizing fuel efficiency.
High speed stability is a strong point for the Volvo XC60 and it hardly feels out of breath even beyond 180 kmph. The numbers though do take some time to get to climb as you etch closer to the 200 kmph mark. There is a striking balance between the ride and handling with a rigid chassis and suspension that translates to a comfortable yet firm ride quality. Handling is phenomenal on the XC60 and very frankly we weren’t expecting something of this size to handle so well.
Cornering is extremely fun and body roll is well contained even at triple digit speeds. The steering wheel is extremely responsive and the small car like unit works precisely to driver inputs. You complete the 0-100 kmph run in just a little over 8 seconds, spirited given its sheer size; while stopping power is impressive with all four disc brake along with ABS, EBD and other electronics working to your aid. Our test car was equipped with 235/60/R18 tyres from Pirelli offering superlative levels of grip be it on tarmac or off it.
Is it safe?
A lesson about safety would be incomplete without mentioning Volvo in every second sentence. Having pioneered a host of modern day safety tech, the XC60 too comes loaded with each of these new age technologies comprising of six airbags including two front, side and curtain; Emergency Brake Assist, Traction Control and Dynamic Stability control, whiplash protection for front seats. You also get Hill Descent Control, rain sensors, a very efficient cruise control and Volvo’s City Safety technology that offers laser assisted automatic braking up to speeds of 50 kmph, if the onboard computer feels a collision in imminent. The beauty of these electronic aids is that it works seamlessly without interfering with driving fun.
What We Like –
1. The R-Design adds lots of sporty character to the XC60 and looks classier than the Germans.
2. The steering is extremely responsive and precise at high speeds. Cornering hasn’t been so much fun on a crossover ever.
3. The clutter free dashboard is easy to use and keeps things simple at all times.
4. The sport mode changes the dynamics completely of the XC60 redlining on every gear.
What We Don’t Like –
1. A good view needs to be compromised in favour of headroom at the front.
2. There are no driving modes on offer save for the Eco Pro mode; which does not let you experiment with the power and variations in the suspension stiffness.
3. The fuel efficiency figure is displayed in l/100 kmpl format and needs to be changed for the Indian market.
4. Navigation unit is precise but the UI feels old school, needs an update.
Should I buy one?
Volvo is one of the most celebrated automakers globally but sadly does not enjoy the same appreciation in India when compared to the Germans. Improving its brand presence, the carmaker is getting all aggressive with its Indian operations and that is something we are looking forward to. Coming to the XC60, the SUV boasts of some serious performance credentials and does not disappoint on space either. Sure, we would have appreciated a bit more headroom at front, but the agility and handling surely makes up for it. Then there is the R-Design package that adds to the sporty appeal complimenting the power output. So, if you wish to make a difference in the parking lot against every other German, the Volvo XC60 makes for a compelling buy for the following prices, and with the R-Design package, it is a stunning looker too.
2015 Volvo XC60 Kinetic variant (Base Model) – Rs. 48,70,000/- (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
How much you need to pay to buy the one that we drove –
2015 Volvo XC60 Momentum variant – Rs. 52,20,000/- (ex-showroom, Mumbai)
Check out our picturesque gallery of the Volvo XC60 R Design