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Driven: Volvo XC60 D4. Image by Volvo.

Driven: Volvo XC60 D4
Volvo's new 2.0-litre diesel engine in the mid-sized SUV body results in a capable luxury vehicle.

   



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| Test drive | Volvo XC60 D4 Drive-E |

Overall rating: 4 4 4 4 4

Good points: neat styling, comfortable and spacious cabin, refined drivetrain, excellent economy and range.
Not so good: slightly dull interior aesthetics, oddly bumpy primary ride.

Key Facts

Model tested: Volvo XC60 D4 SE Lux Nav FWD
Pricing: 35,010 basic; 40,005 as tested
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel
Transmission: front-wheel drive, six-speed manual
Body style: five-door SUV
Rivals: Audi Q5, BMW X3, Range Rover Evoque
CO2 emissions: 117g/km
Combined economy: 62.8mpg
Top speed: 130mph
0-62mph: 8.5 seconds
Power: 181hp at 4,250rpm
Torque: 400Nm from 1,750- to 2,500rpm

Our view:

Late last year, we drove a 306hp T6 petrol version of the XC60 - and we didn't like it. However, Shane summed up the car by saying it would make much more sense as a D4 diesel model. Without wishing to spoil this review from the off, he was absolutely right.

I've banged on about big vehicles being called crossovers before and the c-word has been used in conjunction with the XC60 previously, not least by its parent manufacturer. To my eyes, though, it's just a mid-sized SUV. Still, perhaps to be a genuine SUV you need all-wheel drive and this particular XC60 doesn't have that.

This is because it is equipped with the new Drive-E 2.0-litre diesel engine, here making 181hp and therefore resulting in the 'D4' part of the nameplate (higher or lower-powered versions in the future will carry on the D2, D3 and D5 badging of old). Volvo's plan is to have its entire product range powered by two 2.0-litre engines - one petrol, one diesel - by 2017 and this is one of the first models to benefit from it, although at the moment it drives the front axle only.

As we found on our first drive of this unit in a variety of Volvos, it's a superb engine. Smooth and with lovely, low-down torque seamlessly making way for high-revs power, it immediately renders the Swedes' old diesel engines obsolete. Volvo offers an excellent eight-speed auto with this unit but our car was equipped with a sweet six-speed manual, which was a delight to use. This combination makes the XC60 plenty quick enough for modern-day road conditions, although we wouldn't complain if we had the mooted 230hp version that could be on the way; having said that, torque-steer and understeer might be an issue with more output. As things stand, the XC60 can employ very clean traction in a variety of weather conditions.

The whole car's general refinement is also high, with wind, road and engine noise all suppressed. The Volvo doesn't roll about on its springs and has hefty steering, strong brakes and well-calibrated throttle response. The main issue is a strangely dichotomous ride - the secondary ride, so often the failing on modern cars that don't have ideal damping, is brilliant, smoothing out minor imperfections. The problems arise when you hit larger bumps in the road. Strangely, despite running on high sidewall tyres (235/60 R18 rubber in this case), the Volvo isn't very good at filtering bangs out of the cabin. It's as if the suspension doesn't have enough travel, and on heavily pockmarked roads it makes the car uncomfortable. Things improve on less rucked surfaces but it's strange that the SUV can't cope with this sort of situation better, given how often it will have to encounter it here in Britain.

On to better things, Volvo quotes 62.8mpg combined economy, which looks faintly implausible on paper. However, we covered 350 miles in the XC60, using up half a tank. None of that mileage was on motorways or dual carriageways and its trip computer still showed 440 miles to empty come time for collection. That is seriously impressive for a car weighing 1,746kg, with real-world economy hovering roughly in the mid-50s in traffic conditions that were hardly conducive for 'hypermiling'.

So, primary ride aside, the XC60 proves to be a pleasant, economical companion. Its exterior looks are attractive enough and the cabin is huge for both passengers and cargo, with plenty of toys either standard or optional. The seats are typical Volvo - really comfortable - and we like the TFT instrument cluster and the neat centre console, although the dash and wider cabin is a little uninspiring to look at. The Germans still do this sort of interior aesthetic so much better.

No matter - the XC60 is a competent all-round package with a great engine. It's a bit pricey and any buyers will need to specify it carefully to reduce the occasionally choppy ride characteristics. But as crossovers... sorry, SUVs, go this D4 is a strong competitor for the default Germanic or Land Rover choices in the sector.

Alternatives:

Audi Q5: the urbane one. The 177hp diesel starts at 34,185, drive isn't anything inspiring.

BMW X3: the dynamic one. Second-generation car rides so much better than the first and looks nicer too; worryingly for Volvo the 2.0-litre xDrive (four-wheel drive) version starts at 32,995.

Range Rover Evoque: the best-seller. Smaller than the Volvo and has an even firmer ride in some guises; lovely interior.


Matt Robinson - 30 Jun 2014



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2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 

2014 Volvo XC60. Image by Volvo.
 






 

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