DRIVING IMPRESSION: Volvo XC60 D4 Momentum Geartronic

BY CHARL BOSCH - NOVEMBER 25, 2015

A byword for safety since it first started manufacturing cars 88 years ago, Volvo famously caused a number of eyebrows to be raised when it unveiled its brand new XC60 luxury compact crossover SUV at the 2008 Geneva Motor Show.

Dubbed by the Gothenburg-based automaker as the safest car it has ever made, the XC60 featured a number of technological innovations never before seen, the most impressive being a self-stop system known as City Safety, which would automatically slam the brakes at slow speeds if you get to close to the car in front.

In addition, the XC60’s unveiling, and eventual local launch 12 months later, saw the introduction of Volvo’s current styling language and also the first-all new model since the now discontinued C30 arrived in 2006.

Fast forward seven years from that day in Geneva, the XC60, despite the ongoing hype surrounding the recent unveiling of the second generation XC90, has remained one of Volvo’s top sellers in a segment that is seemingly becoming more crowded month after month.

The recipient of a mid-life refreshment two years ago, the XC60 was given a further shot in the arm earlier this year, with the dropping of the previous Ford-based five-cylinder engines on some models, in favour of Volvo’s in-house built and developed 2.0-litre Drive-E turbopetrol and turbodiesel engines powering the XC90, S60/V60 and V40.

With the latter unit having proved its credentials in effortlessly whizzing the 2.1-ton XC90 along a few months ago, and given this market preference for oil burners, I had hopes when a striking Java Metallic coloured XC60 D4 Momentum arrived for day’s testing.

From a styling perspective, the XC60 lives up to the usual Swedish mantra of simple elegance. While the facelift culminated in the inclusion of new headlights, LED daytime running lights and a slightly redesigned front bumper, the upwards running window line, bulging hip creases, boomerang taillights and (optional) 19-inch alloy wheels, affords the XC60 a classy yet understated look when compared to its German rivals.

Open the door, the XC60’s interior makes no apologies for feeling what some might view as being a little old school. Buttons and dials still control the majority of functions while the infotainment display is a departure from the current touchscreen trend by using a knob to scroll through the various settings.

That said, the switchgear arrangement looks neat and logically laid out, while the level of fit-and-finish is nothing short of superb with a mixture of soft touch plastics, chrome finishes on the door handles, gearknob, steering wheel and around the air vents, as well as piano key black and chrome finishes on the floating centre console.

Offering up to six settings, the electric (driver only) leather seats felt especially comfortable, while the steering wheel can be adjusted for both rake and reach.

Given its obvious use as a family vehicle, the XC60 lacks for very little when it is comes to interior space. Sporting a number of storage areas and cupholders, the latter combined with an armrest at the rear, boot space measures 650-litres with the rear seats up, and 1450-litres with the 60/40 back folded down.

In traditional Volvo fashion, comfort features are far from feeling wanted with our tester sporting a premium six-speaker sound system with CD / USB / Aux input and Bluetooth, cruise control, push-button start, keyless entry, climate control, Hill Start Assist, electric windows all round, (optional) electric tailgate, active bi-xenon headlights, folding mirrors with puddle lamps, the aforementioned City Safety system, front and rear parking sensors, six airbags, ABS with EBD, EBA and DSTC, Roll Over Stability Control and Whiplash protection for front occupants.

Slotting in between the entry level petrol powered T5 and flagship diesel engine D5 in the XC60 range, the D4 is also the sole oil burner to feature the Drive-E engine with the latter continuing with the 2.4-litre five-cylinder mill for now.

Like with the XC90, the Drive-E does exhibit some diesel clatter on start-up, but quickly settles down to smooth idle. This becomes of little significance when you mash the accelerator to the floor.

With 140 kW and 400 N.m of torque on tap, the Drive-E responds with immediate effect and continues boosting in a free fashion right up to its 2 500 rpm threshold. Rating as the undoubted star of the drivetrain comb however, the eight-speed automatic gearbox is about as smooth as you could wish for with seamless upshifts even at slow speeds.

Although the box features a Sport mode that hangs on to each gear longer, I was inclined to leave it in Drive and trust its judgment on when to hook another gear.

In spite of the 19-inch wheels, the ride felt firm but far from uncomfortable thanks to a combination of MacPherson struts at the front and Independent suspension at the rear.

Much like the proverbial “aging like a fine wine” saying, the Volvo XC60 has not let time erode its credentials as a superb luxury crossover SUV. Classy but without being flash or overdoing it, the XC60 rates as the standout star in a crowded market.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

ENGINE LAYOUT DOHC 16v Inline 4
DISPLACEMENT 1,969 cc
MAX POWER 140 kW @4250 rpm
MAX TORQUE 400 N.m @1750-2500 rpm
DRIVE LAYOUT Front engine; Front-wheel drive
TRANSMISSION Eight-speed automatic
ACCELERATION [0-100 KM/H] 8.1 secs
TOP SPEED 210 km/h
FUEL CONSUMPTION 4.7 L/100 km
EMISSIONS 124 g/km