So, the new Volvo XC60 is packed to the gills with cool technology to make every journey as safe as possible, but is it any good? Well, having spent the best part of 180 miles behind the wheel of an XC60 up in the hills of Scotland, I’d have to say yes.
This is the type of car that you’re likely to throw the family into and head off for the weekend, and for that, it performs very well indeed. After hours in the driver’s seat, I stepped out of the XC60 feeling fresh, rather than tired and battered – as someone who generally buys cars with rock hard sports suspension, that was quite a novelty for me.
The cockpit is well designed and thought out, with a lot of functionality squeezed onto the centre console and steering wheel. The in-built satellite navigation is a fine example, and didn’t put a foot wrong during my time north of the border. If I have one criticism of the sat-nav, it’s that I couldn’t find the “Enter” button that needs to be pressed before the system activates. There are enter buttons on both the steering wheel and the centre console, but these relate to the hands free mobile phone interface, not the sat-nav. Eventually I found the correct Enter button hiding behind the steering wheel – hardly obvious, but nothing that a good salesman wouldn’t cover during the handover process.
It was also good to see a completely different display for the stereo and that sat-nav. In my car the same screen is shared by the sat-nav and the stereo, which means flicking between the two when you need to make adjustments. The volume of the stereo also drops whenever a warning beep sounds, to make absolutely sure that you don’t miss it.
I drove both the 2.4D and the T6 petrol variants, and although the latter suited my particular style of driving far better, the former was in no way disappointing, and I can fully appreciate why Volvo is forecasting that the vast majority of sales will be in diesel form. Another interesting point is that the XC60 actually offers more ground clearance than its big brother, the XC90 – although since Volvo was honest enough to admit that only four per cent of SUV owners ever venture off road, the extra clearance will be of limited use to most.
On the whole I can see the XC60 doing very well for Volvo. It’s a million miles away from the square and boxy cars of old, but has even more safety technology in it than ever. In fact, I was told that Volvo’s mission going forward is to introduce a completely new safety technology for its cars each and every year. Build quality is also up there with the German competition, while design is different (or Swedish) enough to make it stand out from the crowd. The City Safety tech is just the icing on the cake, and something that I’d like to see on every car.