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Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.

Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60
Upgraded tech makes the XC60 an attractive option.

   



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2021 Volvo XC60 Inscription B5 AWD

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Volvo has a reputation for style and comfort, but it hasnít always been the coolest car maker on the market. These days, though, Volvos carry far less (brand) baggage than their predecessors, and the XC60 has become one of the leaders in its pack. The latest round of updates sees the addition of a new infotainment system and mild-hybrid power, so we tested a top-of-the-range petrol Inscription model to see whether the XC60 can still cut it alongside rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.

Test Car Specifications

Model tested: Volvo XC60 B5 AWD Inscription
Pricing: £52,745 (as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol mild-hybrid
Transmission: eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive
Body style: five-door, five-seat SUV
CO2 emissions: 176-202g/km
Combined economy: 31.7-36.7mpg
Top speed: 112mph
0-62mph: 6.9 seconds
Power: 250hp
Torque: 350Nm
Boot space: 483 - 1,410 litres

What's this?

Not so long ago (well, back in 2016), Tinie Tempah told us he drove a Merc, not a Volvo, and Volvo has spent the intervening years proving why it really ought to be the other way around. The company had already released the brilliant XC90, and the S90/V90 executive cars were on their way. Then there was this: the XC60. Volvoís answer to the Mercedes-Benz GLC and BMW X3 was instantly prettier than either car, and it had a more stylish interior, too.

Even today, five years after it was first revealed, the XC60 is still one of the most stylish and most appealing SUVs you can buy. Even with top-of-the-range models, thereís none of that chintziness thatís become so common in Mercedes-Benz and Audi products, and thereís something understated and classless about the Volvo badge.

Whereas parking a Mercedes in the dodgy end of town would be asking for trouble, you get the impression the Volvo would be left alone. No self-respecting scally is going to brag about keying someoneís Volvo, after all. At the same time, those minimalist Scandinavian lines donít look out of place at the golf club, parked next to the chairmanís Mercedes and the Jag belonging to the bloke whoíll never be drawn on exactly how he can afford such a thing.

In essence, the XC60 is at home wherever it goes, and youíll be at home inside it, too. Because it has one of the most beautiful interiors ever fitted to any car. Except every other Volvo, obviously. Clean, minimalist and almost entirely devoid of switchgear, itís a designerís dream. Ergonomically, moving everything to a touchscreen is a mixed bag Ė physical buttons come in quite handy in certain situations Ė but the XC60ís screen is good enough to cope.

Although earlier models had a Volvo touchscreen that was okay without being excellent, the latest-generation XC60 has a Google-powered system thatís loosely related to the Android mobile phone operating systems. It isnít quite that snazzy, but it is much more intuitive and simple to use than most in-car touchscreens. The standard inclusion of Google Maps helps, too Ė especially as the earlier XC60sí navigation systems werenít all that brilliant.

The XC60 also comes with a digital instrument cluster, which takes a refreshingly different approach to that of the Audi Q5 or the BMW X3. Instead of bombarding you with information that may or may not be useful, the Volvoís display is quiet, understated and calm. Thereís no extraneous data, while generous screen resolution means the display is clean and crystal clear. While it doesnít have the flexibility and configuration options of the Audi Virtual Cockpit, it is at least easy to read and operate.

Quality is, as youíd expect from the Swedes, pretty good. It isnít quite as solid as a BMW or an Audi, but itís much better than anything from Jaguar or Land Rover. The plastics are soft and the open-pore wood is beautiful, while the buttons that remain all feel sturdy and robust. Some of the glossy black plastic trim looks a bit cheap, though, and there are question marks about the Orefors crystal gear selector, which looks and feels a bit naff.

That aside, itís a well-judged environment with plenty of space for four adults and ample luggage space, too. The 483-litre boot isnít massive compared with rivals such as the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC, but itís hardly tiny, either. And it expands to a very usable 1,410 litres when you fold the back seats away.

How does it drive?

Nobody really expects a Volvo to be sporty in any way, but this one has a surprising turn of pace Ė especially considering itís in luxo-comfort trim. While youíre surrounded by wood and leather, the 2.0-litre mild-hybrid petrol engine up front is busy producing 250hp, which is enough for a 0-62mph sprint in a very respectable 6.9 seconds. The top speed of 112mph is a bit low, but thatís standard across the Volvo range these days. Volvo claims you donít need to go any faster, but we suspect German customers might disagree. But as long as you arenít planning on taking the car to Germany, the XC60 will be plenty fast enough.

For the most part, itíll be refined enough, too. The mild-hybrid petrol engine is quiet and unobtrusive at most engine speeds, but it can get a bit raucous if you put your foot down. Volvo has ditched its brilliant five- and six-cylinder engines altogether, so you canít even pick a more upmarket six-cylinder option to dial back the noise. Even the plug-in hybrid Volvos tend to get unpleasantly loud under load. Itís fine if youíre going for a relatively low-end model Ė you donít expect the last word in refinement Ė but when BMW offers those glorious six-cylinder petrol and diesel engines on more expensive models, the XC60ís line-up looks a bit low-rent.

But there the complaints end. The XC60 is otherwise a very pleasant thing to drive, with comfy seats and decent ride quality, even on the larger alloy wheels of our test car. Admittedly, it isnít a magic carpet, and the Land Rover Discovery Sport is arguably a little softer, but it isnít bad at all. Itís particularly supple on the motorway, and even the big alloys donít make it too brittle around town. Light steering and good visibility aid its cause in city centres, too, and itís generally a very relaxing car to tool about in.

That said, the trade-off for that relaxing drive is a slight lack of verve when youíre driving fast. Back roads are not the XC60ís forte, and though the tall body is well controlled and grip is plentiful, thereís no great reward for chucking the big Volvo into corners. Instead, itís much happier sitting back and cruising, which is what most customers will want to do with their Volvo anyway.

Do that, and youíll be rewarded with respectable fuel economy, considering this is a luxury SUV with 250hp, all-wheel drive and a petrol engine. Our test car claimed an average of between 31.7 and 36.7mpg on the official economy test, and our test suggested something in that order would be achievable Ė especially on longer drives. A similarly powerful Land Rover Discovery Sport will struggle to manage anything so impressive, even with a diesel engine on board.

The Land Rover will have the edge when it comes to off-road driving, however. The Volvo has sensible ground clearance and all-wheel drive, which means fitting some decent tyres will give it plenty of capability in the snow, but it doesnít have quite the same credentials as the Discovery Sport. That said, itís more than capable enough to deal with most customersí demands. The occasional farm track, snowy driveway or muddy field wonít be an issue.

Verdict

While the XC60 is not the best premium SUV on the market, it might just be the most appealing. The badge has very little luggage, and the interior mixes fantastic technology with Scandi style, while the mild-hybrid engines provide plenty of punch. Practical, luxurious and high-tech, itís an incredibly easy car to live with.


4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Exterior Design

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Ambience

4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 4.5 Passenger Space

4 4 4 4 4 Luggage Space

5 5 5 5 5 Safety

4 4 4 4 4 Comfort

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Driving Dynamics

3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 3.5 Powertrain


James Fossdyke - 6 May 2022



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Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.

Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.Driven: 2022 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.







 

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