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Volvo XC60 long-term test review: a Swedish summer beckons

Published: 12 June 2018

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Month 1 living with a Volvo XC60: the start of our long-term test

‘Ahhh – that’s better’ sighed the missus, waving goodbye to the Car of the Year-winning Peugeot 3008 as she settled into what, by rights, should have a fair-to-middling shout at the shortlist for the next one. Yes, we're now living with the new Volvo XC60 SUV.

This is the car which confirms that Gothenburg has finally got its eider ducklings in a row on the premium pond. By which I mean that the only reason to go out there and buy an XC90 instead is for want of a bigger car; all the good stuff which heralded the arrival of the former now putting in an appearance here.

There was no opportunity to tailor this XC60 to specific ff-C family requirements (somewhere for the missus to stow her ruddy handbag other than the front passenger footwell, rear-seat central sandbag barricade, disposable earplug dispenser, gas masks, etc) merely a choice of two cars, one sporting the R-Design specification, the other Inscription Pro. 

In truth, however, even an entry-level XC60 boasts more than enough bells and whistles to keep the customer satisfied; the tailoring of the artfully wrought Sensus multimedia system to individual preferences alone capable of accounting for lengths of time spent in a stationary car more usually associated with the average dogging site.

CAR lives with a Volvo XC90: read our long-term test here

Use of the 9-inch centre console touchscreen feels fast enough for mere mortals and is largely intuitive, though the cleaning cloth provided in the glove box is clearly going to earn its keep until precisely the moment it is sufficiently grease-saturated to serve merely as a smear re-arranger. In an effort to combat this, I do promise to explore the use of voice-activated control.

Volvo XC60 long-term test review

Ultimately, then, it came down to a choice of undercarriage, the Inscription Pro’s adaptive air suspension and 20in alloys offering a whiff more in the schmooze department that the R-Design’s firmer set-up, despite the latter sporting 19in wheels. 

Options have upped the price by less than four grand. Happily, over half of that has been splurged on a delicious, 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins stereo, which passed Frank Zappa’s Dirty Love and wax dislodgement test with flying colours. It’s a little surprising to find smartphone integration as a £300 extra on the options list, but I suppose there may still be the occasional Outer Hebridean Volvo owner out there who might baulk at the price of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto connectivity.

The 187bhp generated by 2.0 litres of turbodiesel seems, at first prods of the throttle, adequate to shift 1800 kilos of car, though the XC60 can hardly be accused of yelling off the launch pad. 

Even with Dynamic mode dialled in to sharpen response to the loud pedal, the kickdown at the bottom of accelerator pedal travel appears to serve no purpose whatsoever other than to introduce a hiccup in the last inch of progress towards the Axminster. And, perhaps, account for a gently unwholesome logging of less than 30mpg at this early stage of tenure. Time will tell...

What time has already told is that the XC60 is an altogether classy act. It’s about as handsome as an SUV gets, comfortable, clever and superbly put together. It’s also pleasing the missus from the off, not least because – having become something of a car snob – she’s delighted to be back on what she considers to be premium turf. And who am I to disagree?

By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Logbook: Volvo XC60 D4 AWD Inscription Pro

Price £45,655
As tested £49,535
Engine 1969cc 16v turbodiesel 4-cyl, 187bhp @ 4250rpm, 295lb ft @ 1750rpm
Transmission 8-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Performance 6.5sec 0-62mph, 156mph, 146g/km CO2
Miles this month 322
Total 867
Our mpg 29.9mpg
Official mpg 54.3mpg
Fuel this month £67.45
Extra costs None

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By Anthony ffrench-Constant

Contributing editor, architect, sentence constructor, amuse bouche