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Car reviews - Volvo - XC60 - D5 5-dr wagon

Our Opinion

We like
Strong diesel performance, comfort, modern design, good packaging
Room for improvement
Some body roll, engine could be quieter

3 Dec 2009

THE XC60 is by far the best selling car in Volvo’s Australian line-up, and for good reason.

This compact SUV is fairly new, stylish and practical. One of the model’s highlights, along with the slingshot turbo six-cylinder T6 model, was the D5 diesel engine.

It had good torque and was reasonably quiet. The good news is that the new D5 diesel is even stronger and more refined.

We were only able to test the new D5 XC60 in downtown Melbourne, but the quick spin was enough to reveal the new diesel is a real treat to drive.

It is not the quietest diesel in world, easily picked as a diesel at idle. That said, it is a class above the noisy idling 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder that powers the smaller models in the Volvo line up.

The new D5 is likely to win a driver over the first time they accelerate. It surges forward impressively as you would expect from a turbo diesel, but the new D5 keeps going strongly, revving quickly to 4000rpm before the automatic transmission flicks into the next gear.

The two turbos do a convincing job of assisting performance both at the low and higher ends of the engine’s rev range.

It revs out smoothly without getting thrashy, and the engine note under load sounds really sporty. It doesn’t sound like diesel at all when pressed hard.

The XC60 is not a small vehicle, yet you never feel its bulk with the new D5 in the engine bay. It can respond if you are in the mood.

This engine works well with the standard six-speed automatic transmission (a regular torque-converter type). It is so well suited that you hardly notice the gear changes – a sign that the transmission not only of top quality but is also well calibrated.

The D5 XC60 is happy cruising around, using its vast reserves of torque to keep pace with traffic with almost no effort.

Our test was too short for an accurate fuel economy reading, but customers should have little problem hitting the claimed figure of 7.6 litres per 100km.

It’s not easy to test the dynamics of a car in the city, but the XC60 wouldn’t win gold in any handling Olympics. It is predictable enough, but with a fair degree of body roll in bends, which comes as a surprise given this is absent from rival vehicles such the BMW X3 and larger Ford Territory.

The suspension copes well with potholes and broken surfaces.

The power steering is well weighted and gives a good idea of where the car is on the road.

As for the interior, the test car had a two-tone brown and cream dashboard door trim combined with woodgrain, giving it an upmarket look.

Headroom and legroom are ample for all five occupants in the spacious XC60.

The old D5 XC60 was an enjoyable vehicle, but the new one is even more fun to drive. If you are looking to buy a compact SUV, do yourself a favour and test the D5 diesel XC60. It isn’t cheap, but it is impressive.

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