2017 Volvo XC60 India review, test drive

What is it?
If you’re going to be in the market for a mid-size luxury SUV soon, prepare to be spoilt for choice. The segment has recently seen the addition of the more affordable Jaguar F-Pace, apart from which Lexus’ new NX 300h goes on sale soon, Audi’s ever-popular Q5 is due for replacement in early 2018 and BMW will also be out with its next-gen X3 by May 2018. Our focus here, however, is on the all-new second-generation Volvo XC60 that will go on sale in India on December 12. It’s an SUV that, like all of the newer Volvos, promises to put the emphasis on luxury.

Like the larger S90 sedan and XC90 SUV, the XC60 too is based on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform. The visual link to the other Volvos is very clear too. The XC60 has got all the new-age Volvo design trademarks including the Thor’s hammer LED daytime lights and the vertically-slatted chrome grille. But a shrunken XC90 this is not. The rake of the D-pillar, for instance, gives the XC60 a very distinct look and persona. Neat surfacing, sleek 19-inch alloy wheels and LED headlights are some of the other highlights on the car.

The second generation XC60 is marginally larger than the model it replaces but it is not an imposing SUV and comes across as of a city-friendly size.

For the time being, the XC60 is available with a single engine option and in a single fully-loaded version.

What is it like inside?
Step inside and the XC60 bowls you over with the luxury it offers, strong resemblance to other Volvo cabins notwithstanding. The all-black dashboard finished in soft-touch plastics, replete with unlacquered wood trimmings, looks exquisite and the front seats that come draped in Nappa leather are supremely comfortable. Several bits like the buttons and knobs are carried over from the XC90, so quality levels are up there with cars even higher up the price ladder. Like the newer Volvos, the 9.0-inch centre touchscreen is your go-to control for most settings and it has been tweaked for better usability here. As ever, we’d have liked some more physical buttons for the basics, like climate control settings. Drivers also get a 12.3-inch TFT instrument cluster that adds much to the look and feel of the cabin. Actually speaking, Volvo has gone all out with equipment. Apart from little things like a floor-mounted accelerator pedal and auto hold function, the XC60 comes with cooled/ heated front seats that also get a massage function (a segment first), head-up display, a brilliant Bowers and Wilkins sound system, a panoramic sunroof and enthusiasts will also like the inclusion of steering-mounted paddleshifters. There are also a plethora of driving aids like a 360-degree camera, semi-automatic parking, blind-spot assist and lane departure warning. Importantly, the XC60 is the latest Volvo to feature radar-based safety aids like adaptive cruise control that can automatically adjust speed depending on the speed of the vehicle ahead.

Getting into the XC60’s back seat is a bit uncomfortable as door opening is on the narrowed side. However, once in place, you’ll find the rear seat very comfortable, with ample support for the lower back and thighs. There’s a good amount of legroom and adequate headroom too. Chauffeur-driven owners will be disappointed to learn there’s no massage or cooling function for the rear seat but the seats can be heated – helpful in harsh North Indian winters.

What is it like to drive?
The new XC60 is powered by Volvo’s modular 2.0-litre diesel engine, albeit in the higher of its states of tune. In D5 form as on the XC60, the engine makes a solid 235hp and 480Nm of torque, giving this version a heads-up over rivals in the class. The engines comes mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission that channels power to all four wheels. This motor performs effortlessly and builds speed in a rather athletic manner. All throughout the rev range, there’s always adequate torque on tap and the punch at mid revs especially is very strong. This engine is very smooth and sound levels inside the cabin are really low. Even when the engine is spun faster, it still doesn’t lose its refined nature. The eight-speed gearbox is quick to respond and shifts seamlessly. And as mentioned, there are paddleshifters to change gears manually.

The XC60, for India, comes with four-corner air suspension as standard, and the damping characteristics can be adjusted too. The suspension raises and lowers itself based on the driving modes and the ride firmness too varies noticeably. Typically, like cars with air-suspension, the XC60 tends to float a bit over wavy roads, but bump absorption is very impressive. Stability at speeds is very good and it feels quite agile and eager to change direction. The steering is light but its direct and does weigh up based on the driving mode.

We didn’t get a chance to take the XC60 properly off-road but with 223mm of ground clearance (with the suspension at full extension) and all-wheel drive, the Volvo should tackle mild trails without hassle.

Should I buy one?
With the new XC60, Volvo has an SUV with all the right ingredients. It’s smart-looking, beautifully turned-out on the inside, and comes loaded with equipment. The XC60 scores well on comfort and is quite pleasant to drive too. The Volvo might not appeal to the driving enthusiast but it strikes a great balance between sportiness and comfort, and it’s that balance which most owners in this segment are likely to take keenly to. The XC60 launches on December 12 and we expect it to be priced around Rs 55 lakh (estimated, ex-showroom). For the money, the XC60 could just be the best mid-size luxury SUV out there.