The Volvo XC60 – a premium, mid-size SUV – is now in its second generation and places a high emphasis on safety equipment, user-friendliness and technology.
The previous XC60 was launched in 2008, and quickly became not only Volvo’s best-selling model, but also the best-selling vehicle in its class across Europe.
To say that this is an important car for the Swedish brand would be a serious understatement – XC60 Mk2 needs to be good.
And it is. From the scaled-down XC90 exterior design to the luxurious, high-technology interior, it feels every bit the modern family accessory.
The engines are refined, the ride is comfortable and performance is brisk throughout the range.
It also features more standard safety equipment than any of its rivals, and a distinctive look that projects a warm, cutting-edge image without the aggression of some of the German alternatives.
There are three main trim levels – Momentum, R-Design and Inscription – though each one can be further enhanced by a bespoke Pro package, which adds specific extra kit.
The XC60 is available to order now with deliveries due in Q3. Prices start at £37,205 and all models benefit from leather upholstery, LED headlights, heated front seats and a powered tailgate.
R-Design adds sports seats and sports suspension along with larger alloy wheels, while range-topping Inscription versions get nappa leather upholstery, ventilated seats and extra chrome trim.
The Pro upgrades across the range have been designed with company car drivers in mind, combining popular options into what essentially become additional trim levels. Volvo says this is perfect for situations where drivers aren’t allowed to add extras to their company car separately.
A choice of four engine options is available: 190PS D4 or 235PS D5 diesels and a 255PS T5 petrol. At the top of the range sits the T8 ‘Twin Engine’ which utilises a plug-in hybrid electric motor drive system; this promises strong performance and a 28-mile battery range.
The entry-level D4 diesel is expected to be the best fleet seller; with emissions of 136g/km and combined fuel consumption of 55.4mpg. In popular R-Design trim it costs £39,705 meaning company car tax will be around £4,500 per year for a 40% taxpayer.
With four-wheel drive and quick-shifting eight-speed auto as standard, it does 0-62mph in 8.4 seconds, which is commendably swift. Top speed is 127mph.
In contrast the Hybrid will be much cheaper for the driver at just over £2,000 tax per year in the same trim, thanks to its 49g/km CO2 emissions.
However the T8 is far more expensive at £56,795, pushing into luxury SUV territory.
Combining a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol engine with an electric motor, it achieves a total power output of 407PS – enough for 0-62mph in 5.3 seconds. Volvo claims 134.5mpg but with all plug-in hybrids we expect this figure to be closer to 40mpg in real-world driving.
At the launch we drove the D5 diesel (£45,055 in Inscription guise) which makes an excellent first impression (we’ll be testing the D4 at its UK launch).
With 235PS it is very smooth, responding to your right foot exceptionally quickly for a diesel – that PowerPulse technology at work – with almost no sense of ‘lag’ from the twin turbochargers at all. But a jump in emissions to 144g/km means drivers will be hit hard at £5,100 per year in tax.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox isn’t quite as convincing. With so many ratios to choose from, it never quite seems to be able to make up its mind which gear it should be in, with an irritating habit of changing them in the middle of corners.
The XC60 does feature a choice of driving modes, however, which allows you to influence the engine response, the gearbox programming and – where fitted – the air suspension and adaptive dampers.
Rivals such as the Audi Q5 and BMW X3 certainly offer a more rewarding driving experience in the corners.
Still, with all-wheel drive as standard, the XC60 has more than enough traction to deal with the strength of its engines, and in compensation for the slightly relaxed attitude to cornering you do get plenty of ride comfort.
Since the XC90 was introduced in 2015, Volvo has successfully established a strikingly unique interior design, using bold, high-quality materials alongside modern technology.
The XC60 fully reinforces this trend, with an attractive yet simple dashboard that still incorporates intricate details – such as the Swedish flag in the metal trim piece that cleverly hides the join between plastic and wooden elements.
Your eyes are drawn to the central nine-inch Sensus infotainment display, with its unusual (but logical) portrait orientation. The screen offers tablet levels of responsiveness, and the second-generation user interface featured in the XC60 shows a clear progression in thinking, using larger tile-style icons to make it easier to operate on the move.
Verdict: The XC60 is an excellent choice for a family SUV. While some rivals are more fun from behind the wheel, few challenge this Volvo as an overall package. It would certainly have a place near the top of our shortlist.
Specification shown for Volvo XC60 D5 Inscription