Volvo XC60 MY 2018 First Drive

Review First Drive New Vehicle Volvo XC60 MY 2018
Volvo XC60 MY 2018 First Drive

Volvo Auto India has had a very good year in the country this year, especially in terms of the number of new models launched. The automaker began the year with the launch of its S60 Polestar performance sedan in April, followed by the debut of V90 Cross country station wagon in July. It ended this year’s launch schedule with the introduction of the second-generation XC60 SUV for the model year 2018. The premium SUV was launched at a price of Rs 55.9 lakh, ex-showroom, in a single ‘Inscription’ variant that includes the Tech Pack consisting of all top-end features.

Volvo had launched the XC60 globally in 2008, and it has taken the company almost an entire decade to launch a new generation of this model. This is not a negative, as in the case of the XC60, since this model has been the largest-selling SUV for Volvo Cars globally, as well as for the company in India. In fact, Volvo Auto India said the XC60 has accounted for about 30 % of its total vehicle sales till date. The XC60 will be offered by Volvo as a completely built-up unit (CBU), with no plans at present to assemble the vehicle locally in India.

We got to experience the all-new Volvo XC60 in a drive organised by the company along a stretch of the East Coast Road (ECR) in Tamil Nadu. Read on as we tell you all about the features and equipment of this latest offering from Volvo Auto India, which is also a fairly new product in the company’s overall model line-up.

EXTERIOR & INTERIOR

The Volvo XC60, like its previous iteration, continues to carry a more dynamic approach to its exterior design, when compared to its elder SUV sibling. However, this generation of the XC60 features a design that provides it with a visual effect of having shed a little weight and toned itself post a workout. This has resulted in the SUV having more contoured body lines, along with a sharper SUV-like design than before. The XC60 features strong crease lines on the bonnet that flow into a large grille with vertical chrome radiator slats, with the large Volvo symbol placed proudly in the middle. The front bumper offers a good mix of curves and sharp lines, which give the SUV its much needed aggressive looks up-front.

The side profile of the XC60 features a prominent crease on the bottom-half of the SUV, which extends from the front fender, up to the rear door. The shoulder line of the SUV appears towards the middle of the rear door and gets carried into the rear tail lamps. This shoulder line is usually carried through the entire side of most vehicles. Although present only towards the rear, it does provide the XC60 with a unique design perspective. The XC60 variant on offer in India is the Inscription, and the bottom of the door features a chrome insert with ‘Inscription’ engraved into it.

A unique characteristic of the XC60 is that the door opens till the absolute bottom of the side profile, including the sill, which gives it a wider opening for entry and exit. The Volvo XC60 features 19-inch alloy wheels with 10-spoke design in dual-tone glossy black and chrome, mated with 235/55 R19 Michelin LATITUDE Sport 3 tyres with a rubber compound specially-created for Volvo Cars.

A signature design cue of the new-generation Volvo vehicles is the Thor hammer lighting design. The Thor hammer LED daytime running lights (DRL) design is stronger in this vehicle when compared to other Volvo models, as it provides a visual effect of extending out of the headlight cluster and culminating into the front grill. The XC60 features an automatic full-LED headlamp system with active high beam illumination, where the DRLs also transform into the turn indicator, when switched on. The car also comes with fog lamps that are equipped with the cornering feature for additional lighting of the direction that the steering wheel is pointed at. The lighting system in the XC60 is completed by the turn-indicators integrated into the outside rear-view mirrors, as well as the L-shaped, full-LED rear tail light design that continues into the boot lid.

Inside, the XC60 is as comfortable a place to be as its elder siblings from across the 90 series model range. The premium SUV for India features Nappa leather perforated upholstery with heating function for all seats, four-zone climate control system, human-machine interface (HMI) infotainment system and panoramic sunroof. The front seats feature Volvo’s specially-contoured design for utmost comfort and ergonomics, with full-electric adjustment with memory, as well as massage function. All seats offer high-levels of comfort with regards to lumbar, thigh, neck and back support, as long as four occupants is the case. The large windows, along with the large panoramic sunroof add to the roomy and spacious Scandinavian design of the interiors of the Volvo XC60.

The XC60 carries over most of the interior elements from the 90 series vehicles from Volvo in terms of knobs, controls systems and aggregates, with the main change coming in the form of a new wood inlay. The SUV features a wood inlay across the width of the dashboard and in the centre console. The inlay feels premium and soft, while offering a bit of coarseness to add to the overall ruggedness of the XC60. Volvo Auto India is offering the XC60 with three interior colour options – Amber, Maroon Brown and Blond. The cabin of the SUV has been well-insulated to isolate all noises arising out of the engine, tyres and wind. This is in addition to the non-existence of any form of vibration and harshness, making the cabin almost as quiet as that of a petrol vehicle.

POWERTRAIN

The new Volvo XC60 is powered by the same engine found in the XC90 and the V90 Cross Country models. This is the 1,969 cc, four-cylinder, twin-turbo D5 diesel engine that delivers a maximum power of 235 hp at 4,000 rpm, along with 480 Nm of peak torque from 1,750-2,250 rpm. The engine is mated to the eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission from Aisin Seiki, Japan, with steering-mounted paddle shifters and features an All-Wheel Drive (AWD) system. The XC60 is offered with four driving modes that the driver can choose from – Comfort, Eco, Dynamic and Off-Road, which enables them to transform the characteristics of engine feedback, transmission, steering and suspension according to the road conditions.

 

This engine features Volvo’s Power Pulse Technology, which essentially spools up the turbo instantly and deleting any turbo lag that would be experienced from a stop-go situation. Power Pulse technology features an electrically-driven compressor and a pressured air tank. Fresh air is taken from the air filter, and then compressed and stored in the pressurised tank. When the vehicle is accelerated rapidly, the compressed air is released from the tank into the exhaust manifold, feeding the turbo and creating an instant spool up. Additionally, the air in the pressurised tank is topped up automatically, ensuring that Power Pulse is always ready to deliver a new boost.

This Power Pulse technology provides the illusion of driving a naturally-aspirated car, due to the extremely linear manner in which power is delivered when required. The eight-speed automatic transmission and the engine combine to offer an ample amount of power to the XC60, making the drive dynamic when needed. The driving modes offer a good level of variation in the feedback offered for each mode, making the vehicle performance apt for various driving conditions.

CHASSIS & DRIVING EXPERIENCNE

A major differentiating factor of the new, second-generation Volvo XC60, when compared to its earlier generation, is that the SUV is now based on the company’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform. This makes the XC60 the second SUV form the Volvo Cars global portfolio to be based on the SPA platform, following the flagship XC90. SPA is one of two vehicle architectures developed by Volvo Cars on which all future models will be based on. The other vehicle platform is the company’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA). Volvo had invested a total of $ 11 bn in the development of both these vehicle architectures.

Being based on the SPA platform has now resulted in the Volvo XC60 becoming longer, wider and shorter by 44 mm, 11 mm and 14 mm respectively, than its previous version. The premium SUV also offers an increase of 91 mm in terms of wheel base, and all this additional body leads to a small increase in weight, exact figures of which have not been confirmed. As a result of the new vehicle platform, the cargo space in the boot has also increased by about 10 l to 505 l.

The Volvo XC60 offered in India comes with all the bells and whistles in terms of technology, featuring a fully-active chassis system. The active chassis is equipped with air suspension on all four wheels, along with the AWD system, which has a 60 % bias to the front wheels during regular driving conditions. It comes with an aluminium double wishbone suspension set-up in the front, with a multi-link design and composite transverse light-weight leaf spring at the rear. The driving modes allow the driver to get the best performance out of the vehicle, and make changes to the chassis and shock absorbers to make them best-suited for the mode selected. In addition to this, the air suspension also allows the car to be lowered at the rear for ease in loading items into the boot, by pushing a button inside the load area.

The XC60 is a well-behaved SUV – much to the credit of the SPA platform – especially when driven on good-quality highway roads, which is where our drive was predominantly on. The vehicle doesn’t feel twitchy when pushed into long curves at high speeds, which may not be the case it terms of small, hilly roads. At speeds nearing the 200 km/h mark, the vehicle does seem to be on its toes, most probably due to the air suspension set-up. However, the four-wheel disc brakes, along with the specially-developed wide tyres bring back a high level of confidence in the SUV. It must be noted that even though the power steering unit is a speed-dependant one, there isn’t much feedback from the system while driving enthusiastically.

SAFETY, INFOTAINMENT & CONVENIENCE

The all-new XC60 becomes the fifth model in the Volvo Auto India range to feature radar-assisted safety technologies after the XC90, S90, S60 Polestar and V90 Cross Country. The radar-based technologies include City Safety to detect vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals, Collision Avoidance up to 60 km/h, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Run-Off Road Mitigation, Lane-Keeping Aid, and Adaptive Cruise Control. The XC60 is also offered with Blind Spot Information with Steer Assist (BLIS) and Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Information recognition, Heads-Up Display, as well as Rear Collision Warning with braking at standstill. It also comes with Park Pilot, which is the system that assists in automatic parking in and out, with capability for both parallel and perpendicular parking manoeuvres.

Other safety equipment in the XC60 come in the form of eight airbags, ABS, ESC, Corner Traction Control, Driver Alert Control, ISOFIX child seat restraints, and brakes with Hill Start Assist and Automatic Hold. All these systems also make use of the XC60’s cameras to provide a very effective active safety system, which during our drive showed that it provides a high-level of passenger safety in Indian conditions as well. All the appropriate systems worked extremely efficiently on the well-marked ECR, going to show how important road signs and markings are in overall road safety.

The highlight on the dashboard of the new XC60 is the Sensus infotainment system, which is equipped with a 9-inch portrait touchscreen. The infotainment system includes a 1,100 W Bowers and Wilkinson audio system with 12-channel amplifier, and 15 speakers including a tweeter-on-top centre speaker that minimises acoustic reflection from the windscreen. The Sensus system also offers wireless connectivity for smartphones through Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, steering-wheel buttons and voice control. It also provides satellite navigation, and is the screen for the 360° view of the vehicle. The infotainment system is slightly-angled towards the driver for better ergonomics and has an improved interface from the earlier version for ease of handling, noted Volvo Auto India.

Also present in the XC60 is the 12-inch digital instrument cluster that displays relevant driver information and also mirrors some of the important details being accessed in the infotainment system. This information includes navigation directions, telephone and road signs, along with some of the important driver alerts. It has four graphic modes to choose from, with constant information coming in the form of two large round instruments for vehicle speed and engine speed, in addition to the central information display.

Some of the features of convenience in the XC60 are also carried down from the models in the higher 90 series, showing that Volvo is determined to offer a high-level of luxury to consumers of its 60 model segment. The vehicle comes with an electric parking brake and automatic windshield wiper system, which also act as a safety feature in addition to their obvious convenience factors. Another feature is the hands-free tailgate operation, which allows opening or closing the tailgate by moving a foot under the rear bumper. It can also be closed with using the electric button found on the bottom of the tailgate. The XC60 also comes with a number of storage spaces and power outlets across the cabin and loading area, so as to offer complete convenience to occupants with regards to their knick-knacks and charging needs.

CONCLUSION

From our first drive of the all-new XC60, it is clear that Volvo Cars is focussed on continuing to keep the premium SUV as a high-selling model in its vehicle range. The powertrain option, technology features, comfort and safety equipment and levels of luxury make the XC60 a very compelling choice, when compared to competitors that come in the form of the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLC SUVs.

The vehicle’s launch price tag of Rs 55.9 lakh also makes it look like a good value proposition as a standalone product, but may be considered premium when compared to a couple of competitors. However, as a vehicle carrying so many features unchanged from models that form the top-end of the company’s line-up, the XC60 could be poised to receive much interest from those in the market looking at purchasing a five-seater SUV in the premium segment.

TEXT & PHOTO: Naveen Arul

 

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