The 2018 Volvo XC60 builds on the renewed Volvo approach to motoring. And it proves that smaller can be really, really good
Author: Raj Warrior
There is a lot of action happening in the premium crossover space and that’s even before we get to the big boys of the breed like the new Porsche Cayenne. The C-segment is just rife with upgrades and all-new platforms. So, when Volvo Cars brings out the 2018 Volvo XC60 you can trust that it will face competition. And this time around it looks like Volvo is looking for the challenge.
The new XC60 comes with some inherent strengths – after all it was the previous generation of the car that first brought the concept of City Safety to the brand and we are now so used to Volvo’s that brake for obstacles like pedestrians on the loose. In the meantime the brand has upgraded its vision for the future, rationalised on the hardware it would adopt to reach there and come out with the most logical path ahead. The big sea change began with the new Scalable Product Architecture that saw the birth of the new XC90, S90 and V90.
The new Volvo XC60 takes all the advantages of the SPA and brings in the added influence of a compact volume. The styling is very connected with both the outgoing XC60 as well as the current look of the XC90. The headlights are the bit that hit you first – the Thor Hammer layout with its bracketing of the fascia now extends all the way into the grille – in effect keeping the layout different. The car gets a choice of grilles depending on the trim levels with the R being slightly more sporty.
The profile is set out along the lines of the old XC60 but the details are distinct – the ratio between metal side and glass is reduced, with a high shoulderline and sleeker profile altogether. The wheels are also larger and more pronounced, with a 22″ available at the top of the line. The SPA arrangement allows the flexibility of adjusting the ratio, with only the distance between the front axle and the front firewall staying constant.
The taillights frame the rear with a very new age look that is evolved from the current Volvo fixation with a lot of LED acreage. However, the XC60 carries off the overt light assembly with its high load height and balanced tailgate. The LED strips that cut back into the numberplate zone actually enhance the vertical segmentation and add width.
Interiors and seating
The strengths of the Volvo XC60 interior are linked to the familiarity we have with the Scandinavian simplicity of the Volvo interior. If you have seen the S90 or the XC90, this car is no different. The large vertical central display brings the very tab like console with its horizontal scroll menus from the larger car, the stylish new instrument panel with its combination of round analogue dials with integrated digital readouts and the vertical louvers for the air-conditioner.
The dashboard is framed on the lower edge by a continuous chrome accent that is actually split off at the sides with a Swedish cross as part of the motif – the yellow and blue Swedish flag is also present in the stitched seams of the seats.
The overall effect of the dashboard still remains minimalistic due to the move of most controls on to the central display. Some essential climate and audio controls are available on a hybrid switch unit below that. the wide centre console is split into two vertical slots with the bit closer to the driver getting the gearshifter, Start and Stop knob and the Drive Mode selector, while the far side gets the roller cover for some useful storage space. There is room for keeping a mobile phone securely at the base of the display stack along with connectivity and charging options.
The seats are nicely sculpted with some degree of extra shoulder support that matches with the generous bracketing of the waist. You can adjust the grip on your back and the seats have just the right amount of support and angle available on the squab.
The rear seats are functionally three across although you can get the centre armrest down with enough space for two sets of elbows on it. The cargo volume behind the rear seats is all of 635 litres when measured till the roof lining – or 505 litres to the headrest. The rear tailgate opens remotely using sensors and closes on the button.
The car gets the whole safety package from the XC90 migrated over – whether it is the ability to self navigate highway lanes, keep away from the edge of the road, follow traffic or indeed set its own pace as well as brake to a complete stop in traffic and then start off again. And it gets the Sensus infotainment package – connect your phone to the system and it can even use your phone as an access point.
Powertrain and Chassis
This is where the vehicle becomes really interesting. It doesn’t come with the usual choice of a fuel-efficient bottom end and a larger volume unit for the people who can afford it. In true visionary manner it does everything with the same four-cylinder two-litre inline four unit. That makes it quite easy to track the choices on offer, which for this region are the boosted and assisted versions of the petrol engine. The T5, T6 and T8 can be seen as upgrades on the T4 which is naturally aspirated. The T5 gets a handy turbocharger that builds on the direct injection header to deliver a healthy 254hp with the turbocharger’s useful 350Nm of torque. This is good enough to accelerate the two tonne vehicle to a 6.8 seconds standing 100 km/h.
The higher specced engine gets additionally supercharging that takes care of the obvious gaps in the previous engine’s response – making it peppier and more responsive. The T6 delivers a healthy 320hp at slightly elevated levels, with a larger and flatter torque plateau with a peak 400Nm on offer. The standing 100 is done in 5.9 seconds.
Later on in the model year, the electric assist T8 will be available – that adds the handy flat torque delivery of the electric motor with some extra power that not only gives you the slow speed luxury of a silent, electric drive, but at the top end it extends the power curve onwards and upwards, so you get more time in the higher gears. And it also clips an additional 0.6 seconds off the sprint.
All these engines come mated to various versions of the same eight-speed automatic gearbox and the car gets a demand-based all-wheel drive system that prioritises the front axle for power delivery. The car does not a huge pretense of becoming a performance SUV, but what it does is use some intelligent slip control and power splitting to improve handling. This is influenced by the choice of drive mode and now the car also gets an available air suspension that builds on the already generous 216mm ground clearance.
The air suspension is also tuned to an active suspension arrangement that firms up almost instantly depending on the calculated weight shift pattern. Front suspension is MacPherson strut based, while the rear is a space saving Integral link layout built on a transverse leaf spring layout. Both front and rear get stabiliser bars. The steering column is assisted by electric motors.
We drove various versions of the 2018 Volvo XC60 across the hilly terrain and windy roads around Marmaris on the Turkish Aegean coast. The car is made for the terrain, whether in the T5 or T6 or indeed the D4 diesel engine that was also in the fleet. The crossover is light enough to be thrown into corners without worrying about its CG or too much weight shift. You get a choice of tyres and wheels going all the way to 22″ at the very top. Air suspension is a luxury that you may choose to go without. The base springing is good and firm and we actually never hit any spot where we would need to change our ride height.
Acceleration is good with any of the engines – the diesel is identifiable from outside the car, but is nicely muted inside, of course because of the present noise cancellation as well. Admittedly, we did keep the Bowers and Wilkins unit we had in the car going at full steam with some golden oldies in English from the local Turkish language FM station, so we may have missed a creak or two – but the ride quality has improved noticeably and the steering is still softer than we would consider optimum.
In terms of product, Volvo have delivered. Their crossover is definitely competitive against the likes of the new Audi Q5 or the Mercedes-Benz GLC. You can see the amount of elegance and perfection they have built in to the cabin – if it was the only measure along with their Sensus infotainment unit, they would win hands down. As we said in our video review of the car highlighted at the beginning of this article – the feel of the new Volvo XC60 is akin to the Apple iPhone amidst all the Android competitors. It may not have the best hardware or indeed the most pleasant user interface but what it does do is take the magic of well thought out design and combine it with a better way to do what everyone else does – more intuitively and with elegance.
2018 Volvo XC60 Gallery
2018 Volvo XC60
|Model||XC60 T5||XC60 T6||XC60 T8|
|Length Width Height (mm)||4688 x 1999 x 1658||4688 x 1999 x 1658||4688 x 1999 x 1658|
|Engine||2.0-litre inline 4 turbocharged||2.0-litre inline 4 turbocharged and supercharged||2.0-litre inline 4 turbocharged and supercharged with electric assist|
|Power HP@RPM||254 @ 5500||320 @ 5700||320 @ 5700
Plus 65 kW from Motor
|Torque Nm@RPM||350 @ 1500-4800||400 @ 2120-5400||400 @ 2120-5400
Plus 240Nm from Motor
|Gearbox||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic||8-speed automatic|
|Fr Suspension||Double Wishbone Suspension, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers||Double Wishbone Suspension, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers||Double Wishbone Suspension, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers|
|Rr Suspension||Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers||Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers||Integral Axle with Transverse Composite Leaf Spring, Optional Air Suspension and Active shock absorbers|
|Brakes||Fr 17/18" ventilated disc Rr 16/17" ventilated disc||Fr 17/18" ventilated disc Rr 16/17" ventilated disc||Fr 17/18" ventilated disc Rr 16/17" ventilated disc|
|Wheels||19-in. aluminum standard||19-in. aluminum standard||Up to 22" aluminium|