2018 World Car of the Year; it has a certain ring to it. For Volvo, the ones that are ringing are probably sales. In all fairness, that’s a pretty amazing award to receive.
Surely it has to mean that the car is something special? Something extraordinary. Something above all others. Not only did the XC60 win that World CoTY award, it also took out the Tow Car of the Year title in the UK.
With my hopes setting on Extremely High, I took the XC60 for a week-long, 500km test.
Like the XC40 and XC90, there’s three models in the XC60 range; the base model petrol Momentum at $84,900 (tested), for a diesel it’s $86,900; the Inscription at $89,900 (diesel $91,900), and the R-Design at $96,900 (diesel $97,900). There’s a sort of additional model in the R-Design T8, which costs $117,900.
Our test car was fitted with a couple of options; heated front seats at $450 and a heads-up display costing $1,890, for a total of $87,240.
Let me just say even the base model is extremely well equipped – even more so for the MY (Model Year) 2019, as Volvo New Zealand have added some additional standard features, namely adaptive cruise control with Pilot Assist, integrated child booster cushions (rear seats) and power cushion extension for the driver.
As standard, every XC60 comes with a 360-degree camera system, blind spot monitoring, City Safety (autonomous emergency braking, collision warning, cyclist, pedestrian and large animal detection), distance alert, driver alert control, hill descent control, hill start assist, keyless entry and start, lane keeping aid, electric tailgate with hands-free opening, oncoming lane mitigation, Park Assist Pilot, auto wipers, tyre pressure monitoring, a 12.3” driver’s display, dual-zone AC, automatically dimming interior and exterior mirrors, DAB audio, a 10-speaker audio system, leather gear knob and steering wheel, power adjustable front seats with memory, power adjustable lumbar support (both front seats), traffic sign recognition, 9” central touchscreen display, SatNav with traffic information, 19” alloys, dual tailpipes, front fog lights, LED headlights with active bending and Thor’s Hammer DRLs.
Yes, it’s a higher-end mid-size SUV, but it’s well kitted out, especially when you compare it to the competition in our comparison table.
Moving up to the Inscription model naturally adds more features. You get a heads-up display (HUD), 4-zone AC, Driftwood décor inlays, a tailored dashboard, 20” 8-spoke alloys, and some other detail items.
The R-Design then adds charcoal headlining, sports pedals, other detail R-Design finishes, 21” alloys, and a panoramic sunroof.
For powertrains, the lower two models are fitted with either a 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine (T5) putting out 187kW or power and a decent 350Nm of torque, or the (D4) diesel power plant, also a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder pumping out 140kW and 400Nm.
The R-Design has a different diesel engine – same size and cylinders but outputting 177kW of power and 500Nm of torque. The petrol engine in the R-Design is the same capacity and number of cylinders, but is supercharged and turbocharged, so it manages a meaty 246kW and 440Nm.
But wait, there’s more! The R-Design T8 is also the same petrol motor with the turbo and supercharger but is supplemented with an electric motor, so you now get an additional 65kW of power (total now 311kW) and 240 extra Newton-Metres of torque – max torque? Now 680Nm.
Is the T8 the one to go for? Oh yes, it is. The T8 will get you to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds and has a stated fuel economy of 2.1L/100km.
All models are fitted with an 8-speed Geartronic transmission.
As always with euro cars, there’s a big range of options to be had, things like a heated steering wheel ($450), Premium sound system by Bowers and Wilkins ($4,900), and an Active Chassis with air suspension ($4,200).
There is a Premium Pack too, which adds in the active chassis and air suspension, heated front seats, power folding rear seat headrests and backrests, the Premium sound system and tinted windows for $8,000.
You can see more of the options and features on the Volvo New Zealand website for the XC60.
It may be an SUV, but it’s hard to not like the look of any of the XC range. Those Thor’s Hammer daytime running lights look superb, and I often caught people looking as they went past.
The whole of the car is nicely proportioned, and I can see that there’s little exterior difference between the models – a small piece of chrome here, larger wheels there – otherwise, the base model looks as good as the top-spec model.
Our test car was finished in Denim Blue Metallic, which to be honest looked a little insipid. In fact, nearly all of the 11 colours the XC60 is available in are on the extreme side of safe, bar one decent red, in Fusion Red Metallic.
It’s also hard to dislike an XC interior. The finish and materials used are just so good – you can both see and feel the quality in here. There are lots of textures used in the cabin, and a surprising amount of hard plastics – but all very tastefully done. Across the dash are lashings of actual brushed alloy, rather than a plastic that looks like alloy. It feels great, and looks even better.
Any passengers I had remarked on the interior. Then again, our test car was nudging ninety grand, so you should feel a bit special inside it.
There’s the central touch screen which does most of the functions of the car, but it was great to see a largish combined volume/play-pause button right under the main display, and physical buttons for the front and rear demisters. It means a simple press of a hard button to get either front or back window clear, as it should be.
The centre console it pretty high, giving you a bit of a fighter-cockpit feeling, and this does mean that the shifter falls right under your hand, perfect.
Just behind the shifter is the engine stop/start button, again a beautiful finish and a lot more classy than a start/stop button on the dash on one side of the steering wheel. Just behind this is the drive mode thumbwheel finished in the same texture and style. It’s one of those small touches that shouts quality.
A nice touch – and one that we don’t see often enough – is that all windows are auto up/down. It’s great to have this in a car, and you really notice when you get into one that doesn’t.
Rear legroom is excellent, and a unusual feature is that the passengers back there have their own AC vents on the B pillars. You can’t adjust the temperature rear (separately) but that was a nice thing to see – maybe a little more efficient than having vents low down on the rear of the centre console.
A shame though there’s no USB charging ports for the rear passengers. You’ll need to buy an adaptor to plug into the 12-volt socket. The rear seats are apparently extremely comfy, and the fronts are too – this is one of those cars where you could drive for a very long time without any aches or pains.
The boot is pretty darn spacious at 505 litres with the rear, with a space saver under the floor.
Unfortunately, our test car was still a MY2018 model, so didn’t have the integrated child booster seats (which I hear are excellent) or the seat cushion extender, but all new XC60 cars will have.
Straight out of the dealership, déjà vu. The XC60 feels exactly like it’s little brother, the XC40. Sure, it feels bigger, but the impressions are the same. That 2.0-litre turbo four? It wants to go. The punch it can give you away from the lights is awesome – and I don’t like to use that word often.
It’s a pretty smooth motor too, super quiet on the motorway, but the overall impression is one of torque. 350 Newton Meters of torque isn’t a huge amount these days, but the way it uses it is impressive. Added to this the standard AWD, and it’s a recipe for a fantastic drive.
As I said, performance off the mark is awesome, but even in the wet it impresses – full-throttle acceleration in the rain is a no drama, no wheel-spin affair – just acceleration. Then I tried it again – in the wet, from a standstill, on a corner. Again, no wheel-spin at all – that AWD system just gets that power down to the road.
That’s not all that’s great about the motor; there’s four drive modes in the XC60: Eco, Comfort, Offroad, Dynamic. The car defaults back to Comfort every time you start it, which is fine. I stuck the XC60 in Eco mode when I remembered, and hey – it’s performs almost as well. After a while of driving in Eco mode I’d forget and then feel just how punchy this petrol motor is – and then remember it’s not even in Comfort mode. We’ve had some test cars that are almost undriveable in Eco mode, but the XC60 feels just as peppy, but with quicker upshifts.
Then you stick it in Dynamic mode, and gear changes happen sooner, and are lightning quick. I didn’t actually use Dynamic mode too much – it feels just a little too eager for me, bordering almost on jerky. I stuck to either Eco or Comfort and that was just fine by me.
The ride is another standout on this car – I’m sure that near-on 2-ton of weight helps things here, but the XC60 rides beautifully. It’s quiet suspension too, no banging or other noises, it just gets on with its job, and does it perfectly.
If you do get to some corners, there will be some body roll, but it’s kept well in check, and the grip is always there to keep you planted on the road. The whole car simply feels composed while you drive it, and this was one of the take-aways I got from over a week with the XC60: totally composed, at all times.
That AWD does give you confidence to push the car along if you want to though, and there’s some nice steering feedback, and the brakes too give you enough feedback to know what’s going on.
With the performance on hand and all that weight, it would be fair to say fuel consumption is going to be a little high. Over more than 500km of driving, I managed 9.9L/100km. Volvo suggest a combined rating of 7.3, so I was a way off that, but I did spend around 75% of my time in the XC60 around town, so I thought that was a more than fair result.
No need to worry about wind noise – there almost isn’t any. Ditto road noise and tyre noise, although as always coarse-chip seal will make those Michelin tyres a little more vocal. Never bad though – the interior is a quiet place to travel in.
Since it’s a Volvo, you’d expect a raft of safety features, and you’d be right. There’s plenty of warning and assist systems, even on this base model. I really appreciated the collision warning graphic on the Heads-Up display (HUD). I know the HUD was an extra-cost option on our test car, but so worth it. I’d be optioning that in a heartbeat, and not just for the collision warning system but overall usage. You can’t go past having a HUD.
The XC60’s HUD is as good as they come, crystal clear and with the info you want to see – current speed, the current speed limit (shown as a speed sign like you see on the roadside), fixed speed camera warning, SatNav directions, and cruise control settings. Something that the Volvo HUD does that not all of them do, is flash the speed limit sign off and on if you go over it, just as a reminder to check your speed.
There’s traffic sign recognition too, so no matter where you are – say passing road works – you will know what the current limit is.
Interestingly the SatNav in the XC60 uses a form of handwriting recognition, and I don’t remember this in the XC40. Instead of typing in your address where you are going, you can hand write each letter of the street etc. It worked really well, even with my crappy fingering, but I’m not sure if this is faster than using an on-screen keyboard.
There’s Pilot Assist too as standard (yes!) and I love Volvo’s system – it just works. Like most cars with the same feature, you need to have adaptive cruise on first, and then flick the adaptive cruise steering wheel button on the right to turn on Pilot Assist. This goes one step further than things like lane keep assist, and will almost help you drive around corners. Let’s say you did take your hands off the wheel and let it drive itself – not that you ever would, of course – in ten seconds or so, you’ll get an orange alert on the dash and HUD, a few seconds later you’ll get a red alert and an audible warning, and seconds later the Pilot Assist will cancel itself.
Auto parking is standard on the XC60 range, and it works just fine, and will also get you out of a tight car park as well as getting you into one. We’re seeing this more and more now, rather than just parking itself, also ‘park out’ as Volvo calls it. Handy for people who are parking-challenged.
Some readers may remember me whining on about engine auto-stop systems, and stopping at traffic lights. Most systems will shut the engine down when you stop to save fuel, but then when you put the park brake on, will start the engine again, thinking you are moving off. I’m happy to say Volvo have joined my elite shortlist of cars that don’t do this. With the XC60 when you stop (say) at the lights, the engine will turn off, and putting the park brake on won’t start it again. Only putting your foot on the gas pedal starts the engine, as it should be.
The XC60 goes one better by having the auto-hold brake system, so that when you stop, all the brakes are automatically applied until you hit the gas pedal. It all just works so well together. To go one better again, with the XC60, the auto-hold system remembers you turned it on and when you get back in the car and start it again? The auto-hold system turns itself on, because that’s how you left it. Thank you, Volvo.
That’s not the only thing that comes back on when you get back in the car; the driver’s heated seat remembers what setting you left it on, and turns itself back on (more Brownie Points from me) and the Bluetooth for audio reconnects itself too, without having to select it again.
Speaking of audio, while the base model has to make do with a mere ten speakers, the overall quality is still good, with nice separation and great treble. No complaints from me, but you could always go for the $4,900 Bowers and Wilkins system if you wanted to.
As per other current Volvos, there’s a large 9” main central screen to control the audio, SatNav etc. I really like how there’s a physical ‘home’ button below the screen, so no matter where you are in the menus etc on the screen, you can simply press the home button to get back to the home page.
You can also swipe the central display left or right to get to more things; swiping left brings up some online apps, like Yelp, Wiki Location, Local Search, and Spotfiy. Swiping right (note this is nothing to do with Tinder) will bring up options you can turn off and on, like Lane Keep assist, but it also gives you access to other features like the 360-degree camera system, or automatic parking. It all works flawlessly and is so intuitive I think anyone could get the hang of it in a few minutes.
The 360-degree camera system itself is as good as they come – the clarity is amazing, and sets the standard for this type of system. While ‘looking down’ at the car, you can click on one of four cameras around the car to switch to that view. It makes parking a breeze, and I used it often to make sure I was parking in the middle of the white lines of a parking spot.
There are other things I love about the XC60; the electric tailgate opens and closes very quickly. Some systems I’ve seen, you stand there waiting for what feels like ages while it opens or shuts. It can make you feel a bit stupid, or a bit like a show-off. The XC60’s is the fastest I’ve ever seen. These are things that you notice when you use a car as a Daily Driver – they make life easier.
Another Daily Driver goodie are the windshield washers – they’re on the wipers arms, and it sure makes a mockery of those other systems that just spray water everywhere.
|Brand/Model||Engine||Power/Torque||Fuel Economy, L/100km||Seats||Boot space, litres (3rd row down where fitted)||Towing capacity, Kg||Price – High to Low|
|Porsche Macan AWD||2-litre, 4-cylinder, twin-turbo petrol||185Kw/370Nm||7.4||5||500||NA||$113,600|
|Jaguar F-Pace 25t Prestige AWD||2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo petrol||250kw/365Nm||6||5||508||(braked) 2,400||$103,000|
|Audi Q5 Sport Quattro AWD||2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo petrol||185Kw/370Nm||7.1||5||550||750||$101,400|
|BMW X3 xDrive30i AWD||2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo petrol||185Kw/350Nm||7.6||5||550||750||$101,750|
|Lexus RX350 Sports AWD||3.5-litre V6 petrol||221Kw/370Nm||9.6||5||453||750||$95,900|
|Mercedes-Benz GLC250 AWD||2-litre, 4-cylinder, turbo petrol||155kw/350Nm||7.2||5||550||n/a||$96,900|
|Volvo XC60 Momentum||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol||187kW/350Nm||7.3||5||505||$84,900|
The Pros and Cons
What do we think of it?
The XC60 is one of those cars whose sum is more than its parts. During testing of other cars this year, I’ve sometimes said a certain car is hard to fault; the XC60 is the exception here – it’s impossible to fault. There wasn’t one thing that I thought, ‘I don’t like that’.
I’ll sum it up in as few words as possible; the XC60 is simply brilliant.
With the 2018 New Zealand Car of The Year award fast approaching and the XC60 in the top ten finalists (along with the XC40), Volvo must be biting their fingernails on this car – it’s got to have some good odds to take the title out.
Hands-down, this is a 5-Chevron rating car – and only my second 5-Chevron rating for this year, and this is the base model. We can only imagine how good the R-Design T8 would be.
2018 Volvo XC60 Momentum
|Vehicle Type||Medium-size, 5-door SUV|
|Price as Tested||$87,240|
|Engine||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbo petrol|
|Spare Wheel||Space saver|
|Kerb Weight, Kg||1,997|
|Length x Width x Height, mm||4688x1902x1658|
|Cargo Capacity, litres||505 seats up
N/A seats down
|Fuel Economy, L/100km||Advertised Spec – combined – 7.3
Real World Test – combined – 9.9
Low Usage: 0-6 / Medium Usage 6-12 / High Usage 12+
|Fuel tank capacity, litres||55|
|Turning circle, metres||11.4
Small: 6-10m / Medium 10-12m / Large 12m+
|Warranty||3 years warranty and AA Roadside Assist.|
|ANCAP Safety Ratings||5 Star|