New Volvo XC60's premium styling: Elegant and practical
Volvo's best-selling SUV has been refreshed for 2017, bringing good looks and plenty of comfort. Can it fill the big shoes of its big-selling predecessor?
The Volvo XC60 sits in the lucrative mid-sized SUV market, and has thus far proved to be hugely successful for the Swedish manufacturer with nearly a million units sold since it was introduced nine years ago.
And with the new XC60 that trend should continue upwards. It now sits on Volvo's Scalable Product Architecture, which allows component sharing across the range to bring down costs. It also gets Volvo's 'Thor's Hammer' headlights and chunky grille, giving it a classy, modern look.
Looks and image
Gone are the days when Volvo was all about pure practicality. It's still big on safety, but there's a real focus on being premium that's immediately evident. The revamped front end gives the XC60 a real elegance that's lacking in this segment - save for the Jaguar F-Pace - and this ethos continues inside.
Slide into the driver's seat and poke around and you'll find nothing but soft materials. The clean design is helped by the tablet-like touchscreen infotainment system that declutters the dashboard of unnecessary buttons.
Along with most of the interior fittings, it is angled towards the driver to make the SUV feel smaller and more car-like - it works.
Space and practicality
Hold the boot button on the key for a couple of seconds and the tailgate lifts to reveal a large and useful boot - at 505 litres it is below the class average but will easily swallow a large shop and some suitcases.
Safety is high on the agenda for Volvo, and as such the XC60 comes with loads of safety kit straight out of the box. There are plenty of sensors on the car that can help the driver brake if it senses a collision is imminent, while new for the XC60 is steering control that aids wheel inputs and uses the brakes to improve the car's ability to swerve around danger.
Behind the wheel
It's immediately apparent that Volvo has put comfort at the top of the XC60 agenda. Our car was riding on optional air suspension and it rode beautifully with surprisingly little body roll in the corners.
The SUV is at home on the motorway, munching through miles in quiet comfort with ease. The D5 engine is a highlight, pulling hard when required but delivering easy economy in everyday driving.
If relaxation is key, there are few in the class that can touch the XC60. However, it does pay for it a little in the corners. The steering is direct but lacks feel and although the air suspension deals with most of the body roll it can't quite hide its bulk on a twisty back road.
Value for money
The standard specification is highly impressive, with 18-inch alloy wheels, LED headlights and leather upholstery all standard, not to mention the impressive City Safety driver aid package.
The Sensus infotainment system is responsive and the high-definition screens are easy to read, though the layout isn't particularly intuitive. This will be less of a problem for owners as Volvo says the system learns what menus you use regularly and puts them on the main screen to make navigation quicker and easier.
Who would buy one?
The target market for the XC60 is families looking for something more interesting than rivals from more mainstream brands such as Audi and BMW. It has proved hugely successful in doing this, and with the updated styling and impressive safety kit you'd have to be brave to bet against sales continuing to rise.
Belfast Telegraph Digital