2017 Volvo XC60 D5 Powerpulse AWD R-Design Review
Volvo’s best ever selling car has been renewed but can the Swedish firm continue its recent fine form with the all-new XC60?
What do we have here?
With over one million sold, the XC60 has been Volvo’s best-ever selling car. In fact, during its lifespan, it has managed to surpass the previous year’s sales every year. Quite a feat.
A second generation XC60, a premium mid-size SUV, has been launch to ride on the wave of Volvo’s recent success with its 90 series (S90, V90 and XC90).
The shape and look of the XC60 is familiar to the previous gen but has undoubtedly moved forward and is much sharper and modern.
The T-shaped daytime running lights seen on the XC90 now extend through to the edge of the front grille while the doors ‘under-wrap’ extending all the way down to the lowest part of the car’s body, overlapping the sills.
Inside it gets the 9.0in Sensus screen like the 90 Series vehicles and gets an active digital driver’s display and a CleanZone air-quality system.
Built on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, the XC60 uses a double wishbone front axle with coil springs and an integral-link rear axle with a composite transverse leaf spring at the rear.
R-Design offers a more dynamic setup with 30% stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars (+1 mm) front and rear, and faster-acting dampers (shock absorbers).
There are four engines to pick from; two diesel, one petrol and one petrol hybrid. Both diesel options come from the same four-cylinder 2.0-litre engine and are offered as D4 (187bhp) or the twin-turbocharged D5 (232bhp).
The petrol uses a 2.0-litre engine called the T5 (251bhp). That engine is also used in the T8 hybrid in conjunction with an electric motor to develop a combined 401bhp with CO2 emissions of just 49g/km.
Every model at launch is fitted with all-wheel-drive featuring a compact coupling from BorgWarner to send torque to the front and/or rear wheels depending on which needs it most. As a default, most of the engine’s torque is sent to the front wheels but it is capable of splitting 50:50 with the rear.
On the T8 hybrid version, the petrol engine powers the front wheels only, with the electric motor looking after the rears.
All versions get an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard.
There are eight trims offered; Momentum, Momentum Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription, and Inscription Pro.
Every model is fitted with a power-operated tailgate, Smartphone Integration and at least 18in alloy wheels.
It’s the first Volvo with Steer Assist, an advanced safety aid that can automatically steer the vehicle to avoid an accident.
Prices start from £37,205 for the entry level model. We’re testing the D5 engine in R-Design trim which costs from £43,205. The as tested price of our test car is £56,480 as includes packs like Xenium, Intellisafe Pro and Winter Packs.
As standard R-Design models get sports seats with Leather/Nubuck upholstery, 12.3in TFT driver's display, metal mesh trim, silver matt door mirrors and window surround, 19in five double spoke (Diamond Cut/Matt Black) alloy wheels, sports pedals, tinted windows and a unique high gloss black mesh front grille.
How does it drive?
Our test car came fitted with the optional adaptive dampers and electronic air suspension (£1,500).
This gave the XC60 a wonderfully comfortable ride. Floating down the road on a cushion of air without too much wafty body movement. The majority of road bumps, scars and potholes are dealt with with aplomb. Only the limitation of the large 19in alloys sends a shudder through to the cabin.
An upside to the air suspension is that the Drive Mode with its selectable Comfort, Eco, Dynamic, Off Road and Individual settings actually affect the ride of the XC60. Pop it into dynamic and the ride firms up, not to uncomfortable levels but you notice the difference.
Off road works at speeds less than 25mph and raises the ride height by 40mm, very helpful when mounting a kerb or two on the school run.
Dynamic mode lowers the suspension by 20mm and while there is a positive effect on the handling, it’s not necessarily needed as the XC60 handles well in standard Comfort setting.
Body lean is limited as much as possible and thanks to a fist full of grip, the SUV can actually be fun to drive.
Performance figures suggest that the XC60 is pretty swift, however, it never feels that fast, most probably down to the excellent refinement of the vehicle.
The eight-speed auto box shifts well in standard mode and can be overridden using the gearshift paddles with quick changes, meaning you can get a shift on pretty sharpish.
Whether you want to overtake, ascend steep hills or just cruise along, the XC60 always seems to be in the right gear and have enough torque on tap to execute your every whimsical need.
What's it like inside?
The most recent generation of Volvos not only look good on the outside but excel on the inside, putting the firm nose to nose with more opulent brands from Germany.
In the XC60, it is no different. The design is similar to the XC90 with the 9.0in Sensus touchscreen playing the main roll on the dash and operating anything from the navigation, music, trip computer to driver aids.
It’s certainly an impressive system, however, it can be rather distracting when driving and some of the buttons are small and hard to read when your focus is on the road ahead.
Overall, quality is high and the cabin is beautifully designed and detailed.
There’s plenty of driver’s seat height and tilt adjustment as there is with the steering wheel so most should be able to find a good driving position.
There’s a good-sized door bin and then a series of concealed compartments between the seats. Ahead of the gear lever is a small tray under a rebounding cover, to its side a long rectangular space opens when sliding back the cover to unveiling two cupholders and a host of other smaller compartments while there is more storage under the central armrest.
In the back, there are good levels of head, knee and leg room with only your feet being slightly forced to the centre. The transmission tunnel is low but wide meaning the central passenger's feet will fall into the already constrained foot well.
Between the seats is a drop-down arm rest which has a tray on top while the main part opens to reveal a storage compartment beneath. Press the end and two cupholders will emerge. Each door has enough room for a bottle of water.
The tailgate is electrically operated and can be opened from the key fob. It offers 505-litres of capacity and has a wide square opening combined with a large flat and square floor.
The boot lip is quite high, however, this can be lowered using a button to the right-hand side. There’s limited space under the floor with a space saving tyre in place, a compartment to the side and a couple of bag hooks.
On an official combined cycle, the XC60 is claimed to return 51.4mpg, however on our test we averaged 42mpg.
This D5 emits 144g/km of CO2 which means it falls into the 30% BIK tax band.
Insurance groupings are yet to be confirmed.
The Volvo comes with a three-year 60,000-mile warranty. It also gets three years roadside assistance for breakdown and recovery throughout Europe.
Like Volvo of late, the XC60 has really upped its game. It remains true to the original’s looks yet is more striking and modern and it has a wonderfully crafted interior.
The XC60 is so polished it’s a real contender at the top of this class. It might even be the best Volvo on sale today.
Driver's Seat Rating:
9 out of 10
It's worth considering:
2017 Volvo XC60 2.0d D5 R-Design Auto AWD Stats:
Engine size: 1969cc turbo diesel
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Power: 232bhp – 4000rpm
Torque: 354lb ft – 1750-2250rpm
Top speed: 137mph
Fuel economy (official combined): 51.4mpg
BIK band: 30%
Insurance Group: TBC
Kerb weight: 1846kg
Warranty: 3-years, 60,000 miles