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How the humble Volvo XC60 SUV bagged the honour of being 'the world’s best car 2018'

By Paul Connolly

Volvo is known for its quiet determination, its record of safety and, lately, the confidence of its design.

That the company has gone a million miles from its old “boxy but good” reputation has been underscored after one of its models was judged “World Car of the Year”  for the first time ever in the history of the prestigious competition.

That the Volvo XC60, a mid-sized and until now not particularly well-known SUV, triumphed in the annual global competition might not surprise Volvo’s legion of loyal owners, but it certainly underlined Volvo’s growing reputation for cutting-edge innovation and its concern for the environment.

It caps quite a year for the Swedish manufacturer, following hot on the heels of the XC60 winning the prestigious North American Utility of the Year Award earlier this year, and winning the UK Car of the Year title earlier this year.

(By the way, its smaller sister, the XC40, was named the European Car of the Year at the Geneva Motor Show last month.)

As well as design, efficiency and practicality, the judges loved pretty much everything about the XC60, particularly its dedication to safety innovations.

The  XC60 – which was the best overall performer in Euro NCAP’s 2017 safety tests - features Volvo’s City Safety Autonomous Emergency Braking system, which has been enhanced with steering support for when automatic braking alone may not help avoid a potential collision.

In addition, Oncoming Lane Mitigation with Steer Assist helps mitigate head-on collisions, and Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Steer Assist functionality has been added to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions.

As well as its all-round excellence, these significant safety innovations, which significantly reduce risk for pedestrians as well as the car’s occupants, are the kind of added value which helped the XC60 scoop the biggest honour in world motoring.

Another feature was Volvo’s award-winning T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid , sitting at the top of the model’s powertrain range, which delivers 390hp and blistering acceleration – 0-62mph in just 5.3 seconds. (The XC60 is available with a range of diesel and petrol engines.)

Judges were also hugely impressed with the car’s all-round luxury and its class-leading connectivity, including an innovative nine-inch touch screen control system fitted as standard across the range.

The XC60, which is priced from £36,000, was chosen from an initial entry list of 34 vehicles from all over the world.

Volvo’s remarkable World Car Awards spell continued when its boss, Hakan Samuelsson, bagged the inaugural World Car Person of the Year Award.

He said of the XC60’s success:  “I am pleased to see our company’s product investments paying off.

“We are up against some tough competition, but this award for the XC60 shows that Volvo has the right combination of design, connectivity and safety that appeals to customers across the world.”

Other big winners at the awards were:

  • World Design Car of the Year: Range Rover Velar
  • World Performance Car of the Year: BMW M5
  • World Luxury Car of the Year: Audi A8
  • World Green Car of the Year: Nissan Leaf

The overall World Car gong means that Volvo has gone from a company quietly but determinedly gathering strength to a world force for innovation and technology.

The humble Swede has no reason to be just so humble any more.

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