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First Drive: Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design

The most popular choice among XC60 buyers for a reason, thinks Craig Thomas.

SECTOR: SUV PRICE: £39,705 – £43,705 FUEL: 54.3mpg CO2: 136g/km

Volvo’s on a bit of a roll at the moment. The new XC60 continues the work done by the Swedish carmaker in the XC90 and S90/V90, showing that it is making desirable, stylish, well-equipped cars that offer a real point of difference at the premium end of the market. The minimalist Scandi design theme that is well executed, inside and out, not only helps the car stand out on the road, but also offers buyers a comfortable, connected – and, of course, safe – driving experience.

The XC60 is available in three trim levels: Momentum, R-Design and Inscription. R-Design, with its focus on a more ‘sporty’ experience is the most popular, accounting for what Volvo anticipates will be 30% of sales. In addition, the company has introduced Pro packages, bundles of the most popular options, aimed at the fleet market, with the R-Design Pro thought to appeal to another 10% of buyers.

R-Design cars come with a stiffer suspension set-up (which proves to be too firm), and exterior styling additions and interior touches that include sports seats (Volvo’s seat remain among the most comfortable you can experience in any car).

These aesthetic additions come on top of the highly specified equipment levels found in the ‘base’ Momentum model, which includes a 9-inch touchscreen for controlling, well, almost everything, with Volvo continuing to dispense with much of the switchgear found in modern cars: so there’s navigation, climate control, connectivity and smartphone integration, and cloud-based apps such as Spotify.

As it’s a Volvo, there’s also lots of safety kit, including City Safety autonomous emergency braking, which also recognises pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. Also available is the optional Pilot Assist, a semi-autonomous system that provides an insight into a self-driving future, as it helps keep the car a safe distance from the car in front, at a constant speed, and within its lane. It’s a very handy system: it feels a bit weird at first, but once you get the hang of it, it’s very useful on long motorway journeys.

The additional £4,000 Pro package for R-Design adds air suspension (a welcome addition when driving on British roads, as it smooths a lot of the harsher aspects of the R-Design’s set-up, and is also available as a standalone £1,500 option) and Volvo On Call, which enables your smartphone (or smartwatch) to control various functions remotely and can automatically contact the emergency services in the event of a crash.

The XC60 comes with a choice of four engines: D4 and D5 PowerPulse diesels, T5 petrol and T8 petrol-electric hybrid. The most popular choice (53% of buyers, if Volvo’s projections are correct) is the 188bhp D4 2.0-ltre unit, which returns 54.3mpg, emits 136g/km – both decent figures for a midsize SUVand competitive for the class – and can manage the 0-62mph sprint in a creditable 8.4 seconds. It offers plenty of performance, with plenty of torque low down in the rev range, while the eight-speed automatic gearbox is decent enough, especially if you’re not trying to hurry the car along too much.

What We Think

The D4 R-Design should prove to be the most popular variant, as its package combines decent performance and economy with a host of useful features.

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Craig Thomas

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