Volvo XC60 tried and tested

Volvo XC60

Volvo XC60 - Credit: Archant

The Swedish marque’s stylishly updated mid-range SUV

Volvo has fostered a long-term association with sailing. And what a shrewd move it has been, judging by the many Volvos seen around ‘yottie’ locations; a nice premium market niche.

Highlighting this association is the triennial Volvo Ocean Race, formerly the Whitbread Round the World Race, and the inspiration for various Volvo ‘Ocean Race’ special editions.

But the spartan cabins of Ocean Race yachts are a far cry from the comfort promoted by Volvo cars, highlighted by the excellent XC60 (from £31,110) tested here.

The Swedish marque’s mid-range premium compact SUV is a big-selling rival to the Audi Q5, Land Rover Freelander, Range Rover Evoque and junior BMW X models. While it can’t match Freelander and Evoque’s off-road prowess, you can be confident that all-wheel drive XC60 versions will conquer most mud and muck.

Standard upgrades for 2014 include Sensus, Volvo’s new infotainment/sat nav solution that connects with internet Cloud-based services. This allows drivers to quickly find new restaurants and other attractions near their destination, stream favourite music seamlessly, or access radio stations from all over the world.

Even better, destinations for the car’s sat nav may be set up remotely via the driver’s phone or other personal device/computer.

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Volvo has also introduced a refined new two-litre four-cylinder Drive-E diesel engine with lower emissions and great economy. Despite the XC60’s SUV body styling – more pronounced if you take my advice and opt for the sporty R-Design look (from £32,385) – the car is available in fuel and emissions-saving, front-wheel drive format as well as all-wheel drive.

Understandably, the former makes the car feel a little lighter and handier, but the XC60’s chassis is designed more for a comfortable ride and steady cruising aided by highly efficient, mostly diesel engines.

Yet the car’s high stance doesn’t mean that this yottie’s delight has a sailor’s gait on the bends; you soon feel you are driving a large family hatch rather than an SUV.

Those who do want more fizz and tauter handling can check out the 300bhp 3.0-litre petrol T6 sports model (£43,550) – the only non-diesel in the line-up – that takes less than seven seconds to hit 62mph.

Unlike its bigger XC90 sister, the XC60 doesn’t offer seven seats, but a large cabin means it is a full five-seater, the spacious feeling enhanced by lots of window glass.

Fit and finish is top notch and gimmick free, with a typically logical dashboard that includes the brand’s trademark ‘flying’ centre console, with storage space behind.

Standard kit includes alloys and a premium sound system, decent stowage front and back, plus a chunky front arm rest housing a USB socket and room to stash an MP3 player, phone and more.

The 655-litre boot is one of the largest in class and all the rear seats fold flat to create a cavernous load space; the XC60 merits the trendy label ‘crossover’ more than some that openly claim it.

Volvo XC60

Price from: from £31,110

Model featured: XC60 D4 SE Lux Nav FWD £35,010

Power: 181bhp and 0-62mph in 8.5 seconds

Engine: four-cylinder 1,969cc turbodiesel

Fuel consumption: 62.8mpg combined cycle

Road tax: £30/yr (zero in year one)

Benefit-in-kind tax: 22%

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