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Driven: Volvo XC60 gently evolves

Safe-lift: The world's favourite Volvo, the XC60, is back with a re-style and it's safer than ever.

Mid-sized Volvo XC60 moves with the times with a range of safety and spec upgrades

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31 Oct 2013

VOLVO has revamped its best-seller, the XC60, with a new nose and more safety, as the Swedish brand seeks to improve the crossover’s fortunes in its prestige segment.

On sale now from $56,990 plus on-road costs, the ‘MY14’ XC60 kicks off from $1500 more than its base model predecessor, but gains a raft of standard features including an electrically operated tailgate.

However the oily bits beneath remain the same, continuing with the Ford-sourced four-cylinder petrol engine and Powershift dual-clutch transmission in the entry-level T5 Kinetic and mid-range T5 Luxury, while Volvo’s five-cylinder diesels and its long-lived in-line six-cylinder turbo petrol are available at extra cost on other variants.

Furthermore, there have been no changes to the running gear, steering or suspension systems, save for the advent of a 20-inch tyre option, as part of a new range of alloy wheels that grows from seven to 11 choices.

Pointing out that the XC60 undercuts all of them for price, Volvo says the Audi Q5 (from $62,200), BMW X3 (from $59,000) and Lexus RX (from $69,045) are the newcomer’s most logical competition.

The best-selling variant is expected to be the D5 diesel, which already accounts for about 40 per cent of all XC60 volume. However the cheaper T5 and D4 models are also poised to perform well.

According to Volvo Cars Australia managing director, Matt Braid, sales should return to their circa-2000 annual-unit mark with the introduction of the latest version.

“We expect to recover back to 2000 per year volume – which is what the XC60 was doing at its peak,” he told GoAuto.

“The market is still very strong. We would like to have done better than we have (over the last 12 months). But we haven’t had the stock so the last couple of months have been down. But that will change.

“It has been our top-selling car over the last 5 years and will continue to be so. The changes allow us to better compete in the segment we’re in.

“Having sold 8000 of these since launch we’re now able to offer a second-generation for existing buyers, so it is a very exciting time for Volvo.” Stylistically, the XC60‘s nose has been restyled for a wider look, with differences in the headlights (they are now one-piece units that sit more flush), bumpers, air-intakes and grille, while the rear bumper features a revised diffuser, more colour coding and repositioned exhaust pipe outlets for a fresher appearance.

Volvo has also removed the windscreen washer jets from the bonnet.

The XC60’s cabin sees equally minor but effective alterations compared to the previous four-and-a-half year old version, with a new instrumentation pack pinched from the recently released V40. Dubbed the ‘Adaptive Digital Display’ it includes the option of personalising the screen to show normal, eco or sport graphics.

New materials, upholstery and trim inserts – including a revised headliner, the introduction of more contemporary wood and metallic inlays, LED pinpoint and switchgear lighting and the availability of ‘sports seats’ for the first time – complete the interior picture.

The R-Design variant gains a greater amount of visual differentiation, with unique bumpers and an increase in gloss black finishes, and it continues to use a stiffer chassis tune with stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, as well as more responsive steering, for a firmer and ‘sportier’ feel.

Volvo has included Corner Traction Control – a torque vectoring system that applies brake force to the inner wheel and power to the outer one for maximum cornering efficiency – as standard.

As part of its ‘IntelliSafe’ active safety systems, the City Safety low-speed impact mitigation radar that the XC60 pioneered in production vehicles has been improved to work at speeds up to 50km/h, and should completely avoid an accident at up to 15km/h.

Full LED daytime running lights now stay active even with the headlights on, turning them into full-time running lights – just like Volvos have had since the 1970s.

New on the options list Cyclist Detection it applies full braking via rapid-process sensors if a bicycle heading the same direction swerves into the XC60’s path. Previously this innovation only applied to pedestrians stepping out in front of the vehicle.

Pedestrian and Cyclist Detention is part of the Adaptive Cruise Control option, and also includes Collision Warning with Full Autobrake, Queue Assist and a Driver Alert system.

Also updated for the XC60 is the optional Blind Spot Monitoring System Volvo dubs BLIS. It moves from using cameras in the exterior mirrors to radar sensors in the bumper, to more rapidly monitor errant lane changes, as well as vehicles closing in rapidly from up to 70 metres behind via a cross-traffic alert system.

The second generation of Volvo’s Active High Beam technology is now available on the Swedish SUV, where the high beam always stays on but will block out the light depending on the scenario. It is only available with Driver Alert and Active Bending Light systems – which lights up the area in which the driver is steering towards.

Still on safety, the XC60 gains Road Sign information as an option, which provides a visual warning in the speedometer if the speed limit is breached.

As before, Volvo can bundle its IntelliSafe devices in a package, now known as the Driver Support Pack, and only available on the Luxury and R-Design grades. For a $5000 premium it brings Adaptive Cruise Control, BLIS, Driver Alert System with Active High Beam, front and rear parking sensors, as well as new auto dimming anti-glare exterior mirrors. The company says that represents a $3000 saving compared to individually optioning each item up.

Finally, the XC60 scores gearshift paddles as an option on the D5 Luxury. It is included on the R-Design grades.

Volvo says it has worked hard to simplify the model grades.

The base Kinetic includes leather upholstery, Volvo’s Dynamic Chassis set-up, Adaptive Digital Display, Bluetooth telephony and audio streaming, LED daytime running lights, a rear camera, rear parking sensors, a powered tailgate, City Safety II, 17-inch alloys, a powered driver’s seat and a leather-clad steering wheel.

Stepping up to the Luxury brings a powered front passenger seat, increased leather trimmings, Active Bending Lights, an audio upgrade, satellite navigation, alarm, keyless entry and start, a personal car communicator via the key fob (to warn of intruders inside the vehicle) and 18-inch alloys.

The range-topping R-Design adds niceties such as grade-specific colour and materials with a darker hue, a myriad of exterior styling accoutrements and a Polestar-optimised engine tune.

The latter, by the way, has been available since the XC60 underwent a drivetrain overhaul almost two years ago, which saw the demise of the naturally aspirated 3.2-litre in-line six petrol model and the arrival of the smaller turbo powerplants.

Therefore, as before, the two bottom variants – the T5 and D4 – remain front-wheel drive only.

The T5 is powered by the aforementioned Ford-built, 1999cc 2.0-litre, twin-cam, direct-injection turbo four-cylinder petrol engine, producing 177kW of power at 5500rpm and 320Nm from 1800 to 5000rpm.

It uses the Powershift dual-clutch transmission to accelerate to 100km/h in 8.1 seconds, can reach 210km/h, averages 8.7 litres per 100km and emits 207 grams of carbon dioxide pollution per kilometre.

The D4 is the lesser of the two five-cylinder turbo-diesel options, using a 1984cc unit developing 120kW at 3500rpm and 400Nm from 1500 to 2750rpm, to hit 100km/h from standstill in 10.3s and 195km/h (via Volvo’s Geartronic six-speed torque converter auto), while returning 6.9L/100km and 182g/km.

Most buyers will choose the continuing 2400cc 2.4-litre version of the above, called the D5. It pumps out either 158kW at 4000 or – for the Polestar-tuned R-Design grade – 169kW, as well as either 440Nm or 470Nm (R-Design again), for an 8.3s 0-100km/h-dash (R-Design: 8.1s) and a 205km/h top speed. Interestingly, it averages exactly the same amount of fuel use, but emits 1g/km more of CO2.

Finally, there is the Geartronic-equipped T6. Its 2953cc 3.0-litre straight-six petrol turbo delivers 224kW at 5600rpm (R-Design: 242kW at 5600rpm) and 440Nm from 2100 to 4200rpm (R-Design: 480Nm between 3000 and 3600rpm), for a 6.9s sprint time to 100km/h (R-Design: 6.6s), the same 210km/h V-max as the much smaller T5 engine, 10.5L/100km and 251g/km.

The D5 and T6, of course, are all-wheel drive, employing a Haldex AWD transmission to send 95 per cent of torque to the front wheels in normal driving conditions, and up to 50 per cent heading to the rear wheels if extra grip is needed.

Working in concert with the electronic stability control, traction control and ABS anti-lock brake/EBD Electronic Brake-force Distribution/EBA Emergency Brake Assist set-up that Volvo collectively calls its DSTC Dynamic Stability and Traction Control system, it includes anti-roll sensors to aid stability during evasive manoeuvres, as well as a Trailer Stability Assist that dampens the oscillations that might occur whilst towing a caravan through the braking of one or more wheels and by restricting engine torque.

Kerb weight kicks off from 1740kg in the T5 and 1846 in the T6, with the former offering a braked trailer weight of 1600kg and the latter 2000kg.

Underpinning the vehicle is a development of Ford’s EUCD (European C/D class) transverse engine mid-sized architecture that Volvo calls the P24 platform.

Front suspension is by MacPherson struts while the rear uses a multi-link independent set-up, while an electro-hydraulic powered rack-and-pinion steering system enables 2.9 turns lock to lock and a turning circle of 11.7 metres.

2014 Volvo XC60 pricing*
T5 Kinetic (a) $56,990
D4 Kinetic (a) $58,990
T5 Luxury (a) $61,990
D4 Luxury (a) $63,990
D5 Luxury (a) $69,990
D5 R-Design (a) $73,990
T6 Luxury (a) $74,990
T6 R-Design (a) $78,990
*Excludes on-road costs.

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