Volvo XC60 R-Design near Overwater

For more than ninety years Volvo has been making a formidable reputation for itself in terms of safety and reliability. From its Stockholm beginnings, the Swedish car maker has weathered ownership by Ford, and is currently under Chinese custody courtesy of Geely whose portfolio includes Lotus.

The XC60 is Volvo’s latest SUV and shares its underpinnings, styling and technology with the seven-seat XC90. It’s a burly machine with a presence that cannot be ignored, from the bold insignia to the legendary attention to detail within the classy cabin with its typically Scandinavian accent. A four-to-five seater version of the XC90, it’s likely to steal customers who might otherwise choose a Jaguar F-Pace or German big bruisers the like of the Audi Q5, BMW X5 and Porsche Macan.

upgrades, which gives the Swede its purposeful character. It commands an escalated price, a hike from that of the otherwise more prosaic models in the XC60 catalogue, which immediately provides some- thing of an issue in way of standard-fit equipment. By virtue of the XC60’s ample proportions, its vast rear quarters and, not least, in the interest of all-round visibility, it would not be unreasonable

to suppose a reversing camera would be part of the standard specification, as it is on some more affordable cars.

Volvo XC60 R-Design interior

On test is the R-Design model with its racy interior, all-wheel drive, 21-inch wheels and lowered, performance-tuned, suspension. It’s this, together with dedicated interior and exterior trim


Available with a choice of engines, the test car has Volvo’s top-level 2.0 litre 232bhp D5 four-cylinder diesel under its bonnet. It’s a smooth affair that’s remarkably athletic while enjoying a measure of frugality that’s aided by the exceptionally refined eight- speed transmission. Volvo claims around 50mpg, though over a month-long test a slightly less respectable 31.8mpg was achieved, which for a car of its size and performance isn’t unreasonable. The driving position, feel of the controls and general

comfort from the refined interior cannot be criticised, the same being said of the rear compartment which allows back seat passengers to relax in spacious luxury. A casualty is the boot space which doesn’t

match that of its rivals. The dashboard is nicely laid out and features Volvo’s centrally-positioned tablet-style infotainment screen which communicates with all the car’s settings. It’s a techy bit of kit with its road sign recognition and speed limit warning, but it tends to be user intensive: unless you can access functions from the steering wheel, such as the audio, don’t be tempted to adjust other settings when driving.

The huge wheels and sports suspension do nothing for ride quality. In fact, driving over average surfaces can be truly fidgety and invasive, and it’s only on well-maintained roads the R-Design comes into its own. A standard fit is Pilot Assist technology; in other words the car will drive itself - but beware Britain, thankfully, isn’t ready for such futurism.

Unless you must have the R-Design, protect your spine and save money by opting for the more sensible comfort-tuned XC60 models.

Malcolm Bobbitt

ISSUE 429 | 20 SEPTEMBER 2018 | 21

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