Sitting at the elegantly crafted helm of the XC60 with the engine running reminds one of Clement Clarke Moore’s Twas the night before Christmas – you know the line: ‘Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse.’ The Volvo is epically refined. After a week’s worth of starting and stopping the motor at inopportune moments you start looking instead at the dashboard displays for true signs of life rather than trying to hear the 3.0-litre 210kW, 400Nm turbocharged V6 heart thrumming away under its bonnet. The worst was when I shut off (actually started) the engine so that the petrol attendant could ‘fill ’er up’.
Yet I can’t fault the XC60 for the way it cossets in those two-tone leather seats and cuts me off from the hustle and bustle of city life. Volvo is well placed with this car not only to lure patrons of other marques but certainly to retain its current crop of owners.
With the XC60, Volvo believe they have found a home for current C30 owners once they too have grown up, or at least until they can afford one, because this petrol range topper is no cheap thrill.
A planned road trip to
BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE
Still on safety, the XC60s optional lane change sensors pick up when I’ve lawlessly crossed a barrier line without using my indicators and gives a warning beep. Do this too often and the excessive weaving triggers Driver Alert Control, with a red dash light signalling the driver to dial in some R&R. Then there’s BLIS, a blind spot indication system that alerts the driver to vehicles outside his peripheral vision using orange indicator lights in the side mirror housings.
It’s all clever, proven stuff these days, but the XC60’s special trick has to be the City Safety automatic braking system. At vehicle speeds under 30km/h, typically in traffic, the vehicle can be brought to a complete halt without any input from the driver. All thanks to a sensor in the windscreen monitoring the road inside of 10 metres ahead. Would it pick up a filthy, unlit 22-wheeler? At higher speeds the optional Collision Warning with Auto Brake comes into play, with a red dash light and automatic braking taking over. I’m glad to report that these overlaid safety nets were never called on during our trip, but it was nice to know they were there. Everything else contrived to make long distance cruising a pleasure, starting with those orthopaedically developed seats. It’s very easy to get caught up in all the technology that conspires to make the Volvo an impressive car. But there is something else here too. Liberal smatterings of elegance and Euro chic are tangible throughout the cabin. That meaty V6, once sufficiently stirred through the six-speed Geartronic automatic, delivers substantial performance figures, rocketing the 1869kg projectile from zero to one hundred in just 7.2 seconds.
But the best bit of all must be the slippery, evocatively sculpted metal that sheathes it all. The XC60 is achingly attractive. Finished off in Terra Bronze, our test model never failed to turn heads. The sheet metal has been masterfully blended like a well orchestrated piece of music, rising and falling, seamlessly interwoven. Those ornate headlight and taillight clusters accentuate the recesses and rises of the body lines like jewellery on a supermodel’s sculpted curves. Even covered in quarry mud, the softroader impressed.
The XC60 is a brilliant newcomer to the softroader segment. A high spec level and powerful drivetrain solidifies its credentials, but a few small niggles kept our test model from the path of divinity. The absence of satnav is hard to credit at this price point. Without an actual screen in the black hole, the dash looks glaringly incomplete. The monochrome onboard menu system looks dated, and while functional, is a far cry from the iDrive and MMI systems of its peers. More tellingly, the XC60 is priced just below its larger XC90 sibling which can be specced with an extra row of seats and offers more space and off-road ability. From a style perspective however, the XC60 is leaps ahead. It’s innovative, super safe and distinctly aspirational.