13 APRIL 2015

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Article from BTNews 13 APRIL 2015

MOTORING UPDATE: Volvo XC60

On Test with Ted Wilkinson of The Guild of Motoring


A 4x4 Par Excellence


Large 4x4 vehicles, in my opinion, come in various forms, the good, the bad, and the ugly.  Under the right circumstances they all provide the freedom to roam (given appropriate permission).  Sadly there are also many examples who find the restrictions of struggling through congested city back streets or fitting into a tight parking space just too much.  Thus the lifestyle imparted by this class of vehicle can, from my observation, see a happy driver or a harassed one.

I must admit that my recent experience with the latest Volvo XC60 D5 AWD was that it provided me with 100% contentment.

First observation of this Swedish product was of a stylish looker, certainly in my view far nicer than some sharp looking designs used by rivals.

For size the XC60 is no giant, though Volvo has successfully optimised interior space to provide exceptionally roomy and comfortable accommodation for five adults plus very generous load capacity with all seats in use.

The test car is very close to the flagship version and also carries a lot of cost extra options to enable test journalists to appreciate what is on the menu.  Thus the leather trimmed interior had a real touch of class and, by Jove, the driving position ( 3 memory electrically adjustable) is superbly comfortable which enables the driver to feel part of the car and to enable him/her to judge the proportions of the vehicle.  In effect it drives more small than large and a trip to London actually proved a relaxed experience.

The power unit is an up to the moment example of Volvo’s proven straight 5-cylinder turbo diesel units, a 2.5-litre that produces a whacking 215 bhp in a most smooth, refined and exceptionally quiet manner.

The automatic transmission has a seamless changing selection of ratios that enable both the performance potential and the low speed flexibility to be fully exploited though under all driving situations the over-riding impression is of the low noise levels – virtually zero as already mentioned from the engine but also from the tyres or the slipstream.

Praise too for the ride provided by the fully independent suspension system which also made for great grip on varying road conditions, stability under cornering and on open motorways.  Brake performance, always a Volvo strong factor, is impressive in capability and smoothness of operation; steering too is light in action but with good feel and the turning circle is amazingly compact for the size.

Performance has the potential for enjoyment with a claimed top speed of 127 mph and 62 mph (100 kph) from rest in a competitive 8.3 seconds while the combined fuel consumption figure of 44.1 mpg seems more realistic than some car’s official figure and I suggest with mixed use around the 40 mpg mark should be on the cards - the fuel gauge appeared stuck at full for ages!

The more time I spent in this Volvo the more I appreciated that it was a combination of brilliant overall performance, close to luxury appointment, real practicality and another example of the high standards of build quality that can be found in all the current Volvo line-up.

Just a few items worthy of comment - the good looking fascia area featuring clear read dials and smart polycarbonate fittings, heated front seats, a powered opening/closing tail gate, auto fold powered exterior mirrors, a panoramic tinted tilt and slide glass sun roof, water repellent side windows, a temporary spare wheel complete with protective gloves but, on this particular car no rear view camera - though overall vision is very good.

Of course Volvo continues its safety first development programme, evidenced by dual stage driver and passenger airbags, dual chamber side impact air bags, inflatable curtains, roll over protection system, stability control and front seat whiplash protection…and more.

I have experienced several Volvo AWD examples on off road conditions and the competence, comfort and ease of driving is paramount.  I did take the test car wading and in some mud and even on the medium ply Scorpion Zero road tyres the handling was always very easy.

In summary the Volvo XC60, whether it be this near top version or one a number of less costly variants, has all the important ingredients I look for in this type of vehicle and none of the handicaps that I have come across over a long experience of with all manner of AWD offerings.  I am happy around town in this one and equally happy in that muddy country lane.  Yes, I did get it dirty …and enjoyed doing so!

MAIN RIVALS: Audi Q7, BMW X5 Range Rover, Lexus RCF, Mercedes ML, Jeep Cherokee, VW Toureg, Porsche Cayenne, Toyota Land Cruiser, Mitsubishi Shogun, Nissan X-Trail.  Price as tested £51,460 - entry level D4 from £31,260.  www.volvocars.com


STAR RATINGS (out of 10)

Performance 9
Handling 9
Transmission 9
Noise 10
Economy 9
Ride and Comfort 9
Accommodation 9
Styling 9
Brakes 9
Finish 9

TOTAL: 91%

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