Photography by Rohit G Mane
The XC60 is an important car for Volvo. Probably the most important car for the Swedish carmaker until the XC40 comes along to our shores next year. The previous generation XC60 has, after all, accounted for 30 per cent of all Volvo sales in India. The new generation car has been given a complete overhaul — it is based on Volvo’s new SPA platform and gets new engines as well. We have driven the XC60 before, but this was the first time we are getting our hands on it on Indian roads.
Everything, although a lot of it has already made it on to other Volvos! The XC60 has finally been given the SPA treatment (terrible pun, sorry), it is now based on the Scalable Platform Architecture that underpins all their new 90 and 60 Series cars. The XC60 is only being launched with a diesel engine for the time being — the D5, which gets a 2-litre turbo motor that makes 232bhp and 480Nm of torque. The drivetrain is identical to the ones on the XC90 and the V90 Cross Country, as this engine is mated to an 8-speed gearbox and gets all-wheel drive.
On the outside, it looks like a shrunken XC90 to the untrained eye. That cannot be a bad thing considering how well the big SUV has been doing in the Indian market, however a keener eye will spot the little details. The smaller size makes the XC60 appear squatter, and the rising shoulder line along with the raked out D-pillar give it a more athletic stance. The Thor’s Hammer headlamps stretch all the way to the grille now and the cascading grille itself is slightly is different.
The interiors have been given a major overhaul as well, and will be a familiar sight if you have seen any of the new SPA-based cars’ interiors. It is a minimalist dash with a neatly integrated touchscreen with a lot of interesting textures like the grainy single-piece driftwood that flows neatly along the length of it. The XC60 has been launched only in the Inscription trim, which means you get plenty of luxury including Nappa leather seats, a 15 speaker Bower and Wilkins system, heated and cooled seats with massage functions, four-zone climate control, the extremely cool bending lights and of course, Volvo’s entire suite of radar-activated active and passive safety systems.
These new Volvos are probably the closest you will get to autonomous driving in India at the moment. Volvo, being the sticklers for safety that they are, insist on selling their cars here in the same spec as they do in Europe. So that means your XC60 comes with plenty of radar enabled active safety systems as well as driver assistance systems to keep driving a breeze.
Take the assist systems for example. Adaptive cruise control will accelerate and brake the car to keep pace with the vehicle in front of you, while pilot assist keeps you within your lane. The best part is, it isn’t buggy and works perfectly fine on the few well-marked roads we have in India and even braked to a standstill when traffic stopped due to cattle on the highway. We drove the XC60 on the East Coast Road outside Chennai and the car has absolutely no qualms about driving itself. All I needed to do was keep my hands on the wheel and stay awake. In addition to this, you get safety features like the lane-keep assist that alerts you if you’re drifting lanes, collision mitigation systems, a blind spot alert and even park assist.
But what if you want to drive?
Then the car will hand over complete control to you! The Volvo XC60 isn’t what you’d call a fun car — it isn’t a car that will get your pulse racing, but instead it will keep a smile on your face simply by how effortless it is to drive. The 2-litre engine pulls the car along at a brisk pace, and never leaves you wanting more. The eight-speed gearbox isn’t the quickest ‘box out there, but the addition of paddles does help in keeping the car ticking like you want it to. The experience of driving one is of extreme serenity, and even the engine is extremely refined with very little noise entering the cabin. It is only post 4000rpm that it does get a bit audible, it is a diesel mill at the end of the day.
In terms of suspension components, currently, the XC60 is only being offered with air-suspension. The different driving modes alter the suspension’s behaviour, as well as ride height. In Comfort mode, the XC60 wafts over smooth roads and absorbs rutted patches well. There is no underlying firmness and crashy-ness, but well controlled damping and composure over bad patches. Dynamic mode stiffens and lowers the suspension — you get a little more firmness to the ride however it weighs up the steering and makes the XC60 feel like a tighter package. The ECR isn’t really a road where you can test the dynamic capabilites of a car, so we shall reserve judgement about that until we drive it on a properly winding road. Off-road mode raises the ride height to its maximum of 223mm, more than adequate to tackle light trails. There’s very little to complain about in the XC60. There is adequate room in the rear, however it does feel smaller than the competition. The front seats on the other hand, offer a way better experience.
So the XC60 is quite a neat package overall. It isn’t designed to appeal to the hardcore driving enthusiast and it isn’t trying to. It appeals to someone who’s looking for an escape from the chaos of the outside world, it is after all, an oasis of calm that filters out the outside world rather effectively. The XC60 will go up against the likes of the Mercedes-Benz GLC, the Audi Q5 that is expected next year, the BMW X3 and the more rugged Land Rover Discovery Sport. The XC60 certainly offers more in terms of equipment compared to its direct rivals, and we expect it to be priced at a slight premium. It is being imported as a CBU at the moment for the time being, though Volvo might eventually assemble it in India like they do the XC90. The fact that the XC60 looks and feels like a shrunken XC90 really adds to its desirability. Will it carry forward the XC60 legacy? It certainly has the capability to.