9.9.2018Volvo XC60 T5 review
Volvo's second-generation XC60 is proving a popular model, with the mid-sized premium SUV benefiting from both representing Volvo in a rapidly growing market and being rather good. The T8 PHEV model previously tested is one of the best in its class, but here we follow current trends and look to the T5 petrol, where only a few short years ago diesel would have been almost the default choice.
Review by Chris Lilly
The XC60 T5 uses the same 2.0 litre petrol engine as found in the T8 PHEV, though here without the support of the electric powertrain. Power output is rated at 254 hp and 350 Nm of torque, for a 0-62mph time of 6.8 seconds. This makes it the second fastest in the XC60 range - behind only the T8 - and indicates that the Volvo is certainly no slouch. It will pick the XC60 up and shove it forward willingly when the driver stamps on the throttle, showing a surprising turn of speed to many passers-by. In more conventional driving styles, the T5 is smooth and quiet, making good use of the eight-speed automatic gearbox to keep refinement levels high. The transmission isn't the fastest to kick down when pushing on, but it does a good job of cruising with long ratios at the top of the range. It's a responsive model then, if not as engaging as an SUV focused on the 'sports' element of the acronym. Since the SC60 doesn't pitch itself as sporty, this is no bad thing, and in fact the T5 proves itself a Jack of all trades. It's not brilliant anywhere, but performs well across the board.
Linked to the good all-rounder performance is the XC60's handling capabilities, though here the Volvo does shine as a comfort champion. The XC60 smooths out the road surface, even on the worst routes, and keeps occupants comfortable. There's a little body roll, but nothing excessive for what is a tall car, and the springs do a good job of relaxing the driver, rather than dialling them in. Although the sprint time is close to hot-hatch levels of performance, don't expect the handling to match, though saying that, the XC60 can prove fun to drive on a twisty road. The damping allows for a good rhythm to be build up, and the steering is precise if not particularly chatty in terms of feedback. It's a set-up that works well both on the motorway, and threading the Volvo through tight spaces in town or parking up.
The first generation XC60 was a stylish machine, and this latest version is even more handsome. It's certainly one of the best looking models in its class, and incorporates all of the current Volvo design language that catches the eye - the Thor hammer lights being one of the more famous elements. It's more compact than the XC90 and certainly looks it, with the designers doing a good job of hiding the XC60's size in the details. It's not far off the width of the XC90 though, so passengers still get an excellent amount of interior space, and the XC60 proves a useful family workhorse. The load area isn't the best in its class, but will swallow a large amount of kit before owners complain at wanting more, and it does mean that the rear passengers keep their much prized leg room.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
Volvo's core interior design theme is now five or six years old, but doesn't look dated at all. In fact, it's still a very fresh design, helped by the clean lines and features incorporated into the 90- and 60-Series ranges. There are few buttons to prod, with only the audio controls featuring on the centre console beneath the tablet-like Sensus touchscreen system that controls just about everything. It's a good set-up, and one that I happily recommend to potential owners, with a simple and intuitive user interface that might not have the ultimate functionality of some newer rival offerings, but performs well at everything it does do. The only element of the controls that is behind those from rivals are the digital instruments, but even these do a good job. Audi's display for example can be reconfigured to show a large sat-nav display should the driver wish, or other settings, while the Volvo set-up is simpler - but far from disappointing. It will still show map/navigation commands, but without quite the flexibility of German rivals'. Other neat touches include the engine start/stop rocker switch, and drive mode select roller, both of which are a little unusual, but work well and add a sense of occasion each time you use them.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
The official fuel economy figure for the XC60 T5 is 37.8 MPG, not remarkable, but unlikely to tempt buyers in with the promise of low fuel costs. After my time with it though, racking up more than 800 miles, the average on the trip computer was showing a very respectable 35.6 MPG - remarkably close to the official figures. It must be said that I carried out a fair few long motorway runs within that time, and an average around the 29-32 MPG mark would probably be a closer real-world figure for daily use, but it's still not too bad for a large petrol-powered car. To tax, the XC60 T5 will cost £515 for the first year - included in the car's OTR price - and then, in all likelihood, £450 a year for years 2-6. You can get XC60s that come in under the £40,000 Premium Rate barrier though - just not the model tested.
CO2 emissions of 173 g/km are not particularly good when looking at diesel rivals for the XC60 T5, though is better in terms of local air quality. The pick of the range is clearly the T8 PHEV model, but failing that, the T5 still features a number of components designed to aid efficiency. Lightweight and low-friction parts in the engine and transmission help matters, as does Volvo's versatile SPA architecture. The engine features auto stop/start as standard, and there are driving modes that include an Eco setting. This improves the efficiency of the gear changes, and reduces throttle response for the driver in a bid to aid economy figures. According to our calculations, the model tested has a Next Green Car Rating of 42.
The Volvo trim range starts with Momentum, which sees the XC60 fitted with features such as the 9-inch Sensus touchscreen with DAB, USB, and Bluetooth connectivity as standard. It also includes 18-inch alloys, voice controls, drive mode select, an 8-inch driver’s display, heated front seats, leather faced upholstery, powered tailgate, LED headlights with active beam, and two-zone climate control. The Momentum Pro trim tested sees a heated steering wheel and windscreen added, alongside Volvo On Call, powered driver’s seat, and active bending headlights with adaptive shadow technology. Other trims see the likes of sports suspension and seats fitted on the R-Design versions, a 12.3-inch digital driver’s display, larger alloys, leather upholstery, and various styling tweaks. The test car had the Intellisafe Pro pack fitted, which includes Pilot Assist, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and rear collision mitigation.Also added were 19-inch alloys, powered passenger seat, rear parking camera, Harman Kardon stereo with Sensus Connect, metallic paint, and smartphone integration with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.
There are a number of good premium SUVs on the market, but the XC60 is right up there with the best of them. It’s not the sportiest model around, but the T5 engine packs a punch, and the ride is well set-up for daily use. It's practical, comfortable, and stylish, with the only fly in the ointment being the relatively high running costs compared to the rest of the XC60 range. It's the price to pay for the performance though, and the petrol engine will prove more popular with some buyers considering diesel's malaise.
Model tested: XC60 T5 AWD Momentum Pro
Body-style: Premium SUV
Engine / CO2: 2.0 litre petrol / 173 g/km
Trim grades: Momentum, Momentum Pro, Inscription, Inscription Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro
On-road price: From £37,770. Price as tested: £46,320
Warranty: Three years / 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Now
Review rating: 3.5 Stars