Volvo’s drive for electrification has led it to introduce mild hybrid powertrains across its range to improve efficiency, with its XC60 SUV one of the early beneficiaries.
The manufacturer says the technology improves real-world fuel economy and emissions by 15% compared with the outgoing all-wheel drive D4 and D5 diesel units.
Designated by the letter ‘B’, the new powertrain combines a 2.0-litre diesel engine with a 48-volt mild-hybrid system, a kinetic energy recovery system (KERS) and an integrated starter generator. Volvo says a new automatic gearbox further increases efficiency.
The mild-hybrid diesel is available with two power outputs – 197PS in the B4 and 235PS in the B5. There is also, confusingly, a B5 mild-hybrid petrol with 250PS.
Front-wheel-drive D4 versions are still available as the entry-level choice, while the T8 plug-in hybrid remains the performance flagship and the one with the lowest CO2 emissions.
The B4 version offers WLTP fuel economy of 38.7mpg to 45.6mpg and CO2 emissions between 162g/km and 191g/km, the powertrain has plenty of power throughout the rev range.
Aided by its smooth-shifting gearbox and excellent ride despite sitting on the huge, standard 21-inch alloy wheels (in R Design Pro trim), the XC60 proved an excellent long-distance cruiser during our test, returning 38.8mpg over just more than 600 miles of mainly motorway driving (our long-term D4 version achieved 40.1mpg in comparison).
Other than the powertrain, the B4 shares its attributes with the rest of the XC60 range. Visibility is excellent with the elevated driving position providing a commanding view of the road. It is also impressively manoeuvrable at low speeds.
As in all XC60s, the interior design and perceived build quality is top rank with plenty of space.
The XC60 is offered in Momentum, R Design and Inscription trim levels, each with a Pro variant that adds extra equipment.
All models are well equipped with parking sensors, connected satnav, heated leather seats and LED headlights as standard. They also feature a fully digital instrument cluster.
R Design models are the most popular, with a sportier look and feel.
Air suspension is available as an option, providing a silky-smooth ride – with the option to raise the ride height for off-road excursions.
But the standard suspension gives a more dynamic feel especially in R Design models which are stiffer and more akin to German rivals.
Overall the XC60 is just as we expected. It takes the best from the 90 series cars – portrait touchscreen, autonomous driving technology and Thor Hammer LED lights – and mounts them in an attractive compact shell.
It’s not the last word in driver engagement, but then that isn’t exactly what a Volvo is all about. It’s clean, simple and, most importantly, safe.
The premium SUV segment is growing and offers plenty of choice from the rugged Discovery Sport to the performance-focused Porsche Macan.
The XC60 slots in the middle, offering an interesting alternative to the Q5 or X3.
Company car drivers are likely to be looking at entry-level D4 models or the range-topping T8, due to higher emissions on other variants.
The addition of the new engines has added to the appeal of an already impressive car, although we’re not won over by the efficiency figures of the new mild-hybrid engines.
Specification shown for XC60 B4 AWD R Design