2018 Volvo XC60 – Road Test

Posted on Sep 27, 2017 by
2018 Volvo XC60
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AEDAED200,000 to AED250,000
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  • Last modified: September 28, 2017

Review Summary:

A highly competent and safe family SUV that goes against the established (German) norm in style and execution, if not powertrain refinement. It's a proper Swedish rival to the hierarchy, with a price to match...

Pros

Great design, classy interior with lots of high-quality details, intuitive infotainment system, unrivalled safety kit on board included as standard equipment

Cons

The engine is rough near the redline and behaves best when you use its 400Nm of torque down low, the 21-inch wheels are useless (go for the 19s), and it's not a cheap car either...

On the back of a record sales year (more than 530,000 cars) Chinese-owned Swedish marque is continuing its resurgence with the latest XC60 mid-size crossover — Auto Middle East tested it in Turkey…

volvo 2018 xc60 1

Hang on a second, AED250,000 for a compact crossover? As in, a quarter-million?

It’s not a compact, it’s a mid-size premium crossover, the 2018 Volvo XC60… It goes up against stuff like BMW X3s, Audi Q5s, Merc GLCs and even Porsche Macans. The true compact is the upcoming new XC40, but this XC60 slots in between the flagship XC90 and the entry-level model as the middle ground and Volvo’s latest volume-selling crossover.

Oh gee, that’s a tough one, lemme see, should I get a Volvo or a Porsche…

Don’t be sarcastic, this XC60 is likely the safest car ever made. According to its maker, of course — we didn’t test that claim with a triple barrel roll. The XC60 sits on the same modular platform as the XC90, the Chinese-owned marque’s only vehicle architecture (that’s why they call it modular). In fact from behind the wheel you can hardly tell the two apart — in Turkey where Auto Middle East tested the car, we shuttled from the airport in an XC90 and later when the XC60 test began we initially thought we were still in the XC90.

So you’re idiots…

No, it’s just a pretty deceiving thing, for two reasons, both in terms of size and design. Oh, and quality — the two cars’ interiors are almost indiscernible.

That’s three things.

Well, it really does look and feel like a direct transplant from the XC90 to the XC60, at least when it comes to the cabin — there are loads of neat styling touches, quality materials, and details like an engraved Swedish flag, real metal trim, intricate speaker grilles, and plenty of classy touches inside. Rear room is adequate too, and the car is quiet with minimal wind buffeting, and better than average outward visibility thanks to efficient A-pillar designs.

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That’s better. It’s starting to sound like quarter-million worth of car now…

Sure, but we didn’t get to the powertrain yet. The Swedes, or should we say the Chinese-owned Swedes, use their ubiquitous 2.0-litre four-cylinder in anything they can. In the XC60 you can pick from the 254bhp T5 model with the four-pot turbocharged, or the 320bhp T6 mode where the lump is turbocharged and supercharged. That’s a lot of boost, and at higher revs the engine is trashy although never short on power. It’s happier down low where it makes 400Nm of torque. No trouble with the eight-speed automatic transmission though.

Ah, so that’s the catch.

Yes, we’d argue every German rival has a more refined powerplant and drivetrain combination on board, and also the Japanese. They don’t have seats as comfortable as this though, nor this much safety kit on board.

Well, I like to live dangerously. Anyway what else does it have?

Some 21-inch wheels which completely ruin the car. They are optional extra-cost equipment thankfully, so stay well away from them and go for the standard 19-inch wheels that you get on the XC60 R-Design (that’s the sporty one) or Inscription trim (that’s the classy one) anyway. On the 21s not only is the ride too harsh, but you can’t even go down a gravel path (it’s got all-wheel drive) without getting a headache. The more supple 19s don’t just improve the ride quality immensely, but they even make the car more fun to drive because they’re much more generous in the way of road feel and communication. The XC60 is not a bad crossover to steer at all, and our test route was a rather treacherous 300km up and down the Turkish Aegean coast.

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But do the 19s make it Macan-fun?

Well, no, the Macan is in a league of its own when it comes to sports crossovers — it drives like a Golf R on steroids, and just like the Volkswagen, it’s all so accessible. All the others feel like they’re burdened whenever you try to wheel them like they’re sports cars. They’re not, so why are we even talking about this?

Because it costs AED250,000! Shouldn’t Dh150,000 be more reasonable?

Yes it should, and that’s about the starting price in overseas markets where you can get base-spec cars from around AED150,000. In our market we get loaded examples, so the 2018 XC60 is available from this month, from AED200,000 going up to to AED250,000.

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One more question: does it pass the Moose test?

Of course it does, only we call it the Jamal test. Look, the XC60 is very competent for what it is, and the elegant interior with natural grain wood trim and that intuitive tablet-like infotainment display makes it a great place to spend time in. For some safety is a priority and they’ll be happy in the XC60, perhaps in Fusion Red metallic or Bursting Blue, you know, just to stand out a little amongst all the white Audis and BMWs. For others — even though Volvo is a brand on the up with a six percent year-on-year sales increase, and according to our source more and more Emirati buyers along with the regular expat demographic — it just doesn’t carry the weight of something with a Stuttgart crest on the bonnet. The Macan starts form AED187,100 (the others are all in the same ballpark) and although that’s theoretical because you’ll pile on 50-grand worth of options, it’s still hard to ignore.

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