What we know about the XC60 is this, its one of the smartest looking crossover SUV’s you can get. Yes, I am being highly biased but for once I shall loosen the belt and feast richly on a great all-rounder in its class, although in reality, it isn’t.
The XC60 is available in four trim levels and with prices starting from around £31k for entry-level SE models and rising to £42k for top-spec (and of course fully loaded) R-Design Lux models.
With around 20 models and a range of 4 and 5-cylinder diesel engines, in addition to petrol engines and five trims to choose from you won’t be short on choice. Since we don’t tell you what to buy it really is a choice for you to make, we’re not a marketing brochure here at DCB Towers.
The XC60 is considered to be in the small SUV category, but it doesn’t feel small, I don’t want to bore you with geek filled facts such as dimensions, that’s for the honest Johns of this world. But what I can say, using an unscientific analogy is, that the XC60 feels just about the right size. Neither too unwieldy big nor unnecessarily small.
You have plenty of room in the front and for rear passengers and plenty of storage options. Then there is that SUV practicality, boot space is usefully good with seats up massively useful with the seats folded flat, which means shopping and hauling stuff around is simply a case of job done.
The XC60 R-Design sits near the top end of the ownership spectrum, R-design gets you standard 18-inch low profile tyres, a tuned sports chassis, and a more aggressive-looking body kit. In truth, if your finances can extend to this model then you get a seriously well kitted out SUV. We have become the sales brochure.
The interior is of a premium luxury standard, the leather sports seats hug you into position and never make for discomfort no matter how long the journey. And then there’s that almost boutique looking interior design, its uses high grade soft touch materials mixed with aluminum accents which make for an interior ambiance that will make Audi, BMW and Mercedes owners grimace with pure envy.
And of course, there is the kit level, let’s just say it’s endless, the highlights are the radar-guided cruise control which is able to adjust the vehicle’s speed and brake accordingly to the car in front. Its like semi-automated driving. There are also other safety features like the blind spot indicator and lane drift warning. But the highlight for me isn’t the kick-ass stereo system it’s a DAB Radio that actually works in so far as you don’t have to be near a major city to get a whole bunch of channels.
So the XC60 R-Design is a great SUV, thumbs up, Facebook likes, Twitter retweets and hashtags. However, the R-Design on test was the Polestar variant. Polestar are Volvo’s official factory racing team which currently competes in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship.
What Polestar learns on the track is directly fed into Volvo’s Polestar branded offerings and the XC60 R-Design Polestar is one of a number of vehicles to benefit from Volvo’s racing experience.
So its got the typically aggressive R-Design look complete with 20-inch low-profile tyres. The 5-cylinder turbo-diesel has been tuned to deliver 230bhp, 15bhp more than the standard version. Peak torque is also boosted from a standard 440 Nm to 470Nm.
In truth the straight-line performance isn’t a spectacular experience, it feels slightly faster and slightly more powerful, however, the performance is held back not just by the weight of the XC60 but chiefly by the six-speed automatic gearbox which feels slow to shift specifically on the downshift. That said its preferable to use the paddles-shift to engage gears so you can change down a gear or up because sometimes it needs reminding when to do so.
I can’t find too many faults with the handling its as good as some saloon cars, the steering has a nice balance of weight and feel, you can point the XC60 Polestar into a corner and it will dart enthusiastically and not lose much traction as you apex the bend and make you’re exit. Like all good handling vehicles, it gives you confidence and you always want to push that little bit further.
However the ride over slow bumps is jarring and I wouldn’t necessarily use the XC60 to go off-roading, its got 4WD yes but that’s more for better traction than conquering the harshest of off-road terrains. The ride is better over fast bumps and the XC60 cruises the autobahn, motorway, freeway with comfort and ease.
The 5-cylinder 2.5-litre turbo-diesel is a great powerplant its got a lazy sucker punch in its delivery and bags of charm when you floor the accelerator, that distinct and charismatic 5-cylinder diesel melody envelopes the cabin adding to that sensation and feel of power. Yet at idle the diesel is noisier than its rivals however that noise disperses and fades away when cruising on the motorway.
Consider the Volvo XC60 R-Design Polestar to be what AMG is to Mercedes, it’s not a knock-out punch by any means it’s just slightly faster without ever feeling slightly faster.