Volvo’s updated XC60 refines a winning formula

The XC60 has been a core part of Volvo’s range for a little while now. In fact, it’s been one of the firm’s best-selling cars since 2009, which goes to show just how important it is. So it’s little surprise that Volvo has chosen to refresh its ever-popular XC60, adding a little extra sparkle to this mid-size SUV while ensuring that its powertrains tie in with the brand’s electrified ethos.

But given this market is so awash with options, can this update do enough to keep the XC60 current? We’ve been finding out.

Given that it’s been such a hit with buyers, you can’t fault Volvo for keeping things relatively simple with this new XC60. Exterior-wise, it’s similar to how it was before, save for redesigned air inlets, while around the back the exhaust pipes are now hidden which, according to Volvo, ‘showcase the company’s continued journey to electrification’.

Photos: PA Media

The technology inside has taken a big jump too. The main infotainment system now uses Android’s operating technology, which was first used on the fully electric XC40 P8. It gives access to Volvo’s full range of services, while over-the-air updates mean that the car is constantly kept up to speed with the latest software.

It’ll come as no surprise that electrification plays heavily in the XC40’s design. In terms of plug-in hybrids you have the T6 and range-topping T8, while the rest of the range uses a mild-hybrid system to help reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption – and that’s just what we’re looking at here.

The B5 is one of the more powerful non-plug-in hybrid versions of the XC60 you can get, packing 247bhp and 350Nm of torque from its 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol.

With fuel consumption at between 31.7 and 36.7mpg it’s certainly on the juicer end of the spectrum, though CO2 emissions of between 176-202g/km are pretty much on par for the segment. Performance is certainly brisk, too; zero to 60mph takes 6.5 seconds while the XC60’s top speed lies at a restricted 112mph – just as it is in all Volvo cars for safety reasons.

The XC60’s refinement was something that always shined through and this has certainly been carried over to the new version. It’s comfortable and quiet – though the engine can be a little vocal under hard acceleration – while there’s plenty of acceleration to tap into should you need it. The throttle response can be a little delayed at times, particularly as you’re exiting a bend, but when travelling at lower speeds it’s just sharp enough.

The high driving position means you’ve got a good view of the road ahead while the abundance of glass in the XC60’s design means that the cabin feels calm and relaxed, which in turn adds to the refined nature of the drive itself. This high-powered, non-plug-in hybrid variant doesn’t, however, feel like the one to opt for – it’d be a better choice to trump for a plug-in version or, if you don’t need as much oomph, a lower-powered mild-hybrid variant.

As we’ve already mentioned the aesthetic tweaks to the XC60 have been minimal and that’s no bad thing at all. It’s still a very handsome car, with sharp lines and a timeless nature which have ensured that it doesn’t look dated, despite having been on sale for some time.

The lack of visible exhausts at the rear is a little odd when you first notice it, but the design does play into the smooth appearance of the car as a whole. This update has also brought new exterior colours and alloy wheels designs, giving more scope for personalisation.

The cabin of the XC40 brings just what we’d expect from a Volvo. It’s solidly made and impressively well finished, with the high-quality materials used throughout giving it a built-to-last feel. The front seats are comfortable and well-padded and it’s the same story in the back, too, where there’s a decent amount of legroom. In terms of boot space, there are 483 litres to play with, though somewhat behind rivals, is still more than enough for most occasions. You can lower the rear seats to extend it, too.

If outright boot space is what you’re after, then remember that the plug-in hybrids – as a result of their electrical systems placed under the boot floor – don’t offer quite so much luggage capacity as the mild-hybrid versions.

Our test car came finished in Inscription trim. Included in that is a nine-inch portrait-orientated touchscreen now running – as mentioned – Android’s operating system which is really simple to use. The voice control is particularly good and can accurately respond to requests, such as changing the radio station or making a call. You also get four years of data allowance for each car, so you can stay connected for some time.

Being a Volvo it’s also packed with standard safety kit. Highlights include oncoming lane mitigation which can guide you back into a lane should you unknowingly drift, or run-off road protection which automatically tightens the seatbelts should the car leave the road. These features – among others – really do help to create a sense of security in the XC60 which will no doubt find favour among family buyers.

The tweaks made to the XC60 might be subtle but they only work to enhance this car’s appeal even further. The interior is where you’ll notice the changes most and they’ve been implemented to ensure that the XC60 keeps up to a speed in what is a very fast-paced segment. Fortunately, they’ve done the job and the XC60 should continue to suit many buyers for some time.

Though we’d often advise opting for a plug-in hybrid variant, this mild-hybrid version does a decent job of providing a balance of performance and economy – particularly if you’re not able to plug in your car at home.

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