The Volvo XC60 doesn’t have a German badge on the bonnet, but don’t let that fool you. This is still a very premium SUV, and one of the best vehicles in its class
According to the dictionary definition, coolness is “an admired aesthetic of attitude, behaviour, comportment, appearance and style, influenced by and a product of the Zeitgeist.”
As this rather vague description shows, it’s tough to explain exactly why something, or someone, is cool. A true definition of the term isn’t easy to provide, but we instantly recognise it when we encounter something that is undeniably “cool”.
The Volvo XC60 is a very cool car. It has that certain “aesthetic of attitude, appearance and style” that instantly sets it apart from most of its competition.
It has an effortless grace and refinement, even with an oilburner under the bonnet. It’s interior looks expensive, without ever seeming gaudy or ostentatious. Its exterior styling is modern and attractive, but not garish or too attention grabbing.
And on the road? It is every bit as cool, calm and collected as its looks suggest it would be. Its 2,4-litre, five-cylinder diesel engine pushes out 158 kW of power and 440 Nm of torque – both very respectable figures. Push down on the accelerator, and the XC60 speeds up impressively, with a surprisingly pleasant engine noise from the oilburner accompanying the increase in speed.
The engine is mated to a six-speed automatic transmission, which performs well, but if you’d rather shift gears yourself, the latest version of the XC60 boasts a set of paddle shifters.
With its auto ’box and smooth power delivery, the SUV provides a relaxed and pleasant drive, if not a terribly involving one. The XC60 doesn’t beg you to put your foot down. Instead, it encourages you to sit back and relax as you negotiate traffic or watch the kilometres pass by on the open road.
In fact, the only thing that might upset your relaxed, Zen-like state is one of the warning beeps that tend to emanate from the vehicle rather frequently.
Predictably, the XC60 has no shortage of safety systems and aids – and each one makes a noise to attract your attention if it calculates that things might go very wrong in the immediate future. It’ll let you know if you’re approaching a vehicle in front of you at too great a speed, if a vehicle in your blind spot is obstructing your move to a different lane, if a pedestrian appears in front of your bonnet, or if you are in danger of hitting a pillar or pole when pulling out of a parking spot.
Of course, all these warning sounds can be muted, but it is perhaps worth keeping them on, since they can be tremendously useful. Volvo has a much-deserved reputation for vehicle safety, and the latest XC60 continues that tradition.
Few vehicles offer as many ingenious, and effective, safety aids. And the updated version of the SUV has upped the ante even further.
Its first impressive new piece of safety kit is its Active High Beam Control, which makes journeys in the dark safer and more comfortable.
The technology eliminates the need to switch between low and high beam. Instead, Active High Beam Control makes it possible to keep the headlights on full beam at all times. When another car approaches from the opposite direction, the system helps to prevent dazzling of the oncoming driver by shading out only as much of the beam as necessary. This is done by an ingenious projector module mechanism integrated into the headlamp.
Another nifty new system is its advanced Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection technology. Volvo has had something similar for a while, but new advanced software, including more rapid vision processing, has now made it possible to extend Volvo’s previous pedestrian detection and auto brake technology to cover certain cyclist situations as well. The new Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection with full auto brake is equipped with an advanced sensor system that scans the area ahead. If a cyclist heading in the same direction as the car suddenly swerves out in front of the car and a collision is imminent, there is an instant warning and full braking power is applied.
The technology also detects if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver does not respond in time, the car can warn the driver and automatically activate the brakes.
Taken as a complete package, there is an awful lot to like about the XC60. True, its lack of a Teutonic badge slightly diminishes its appeal in our German-obsessed motoring market, but it deserves to be given a fair shake. The XC60 isn’t only a safe, comfortable and surprisingly brisk SUV. It is also very cool. A refreshing alternative to the predictable premium choices.
BY THE NUMBERS
PRICE R555 200 ENGINE 2,4-litre, five-cylinder, turbodiesel POWER/TORQUE 158 kW/440 Nm GEARBOX Six-speed automatic DRIVE SYSTEM AWD ECONOMY 6,4 litres per 100km (claimed) FUEL TANK 70 litres
* Watch our video review of the XC60 below: