Last week, when I picked up the Volvo XC60, I realised something. It was with a heavy heart that I took the keys to the Volvo XC60. Why? Well, this is the last time that I will ever test drive this generation of the XC60.
I first test drove this car back in 2008. I brought it from Dublin to Cork and back again. I can remember both my wife and I being extremely impressed by what was on offer. It offered a luxurious feel, good fuel economy, it looked stylish, and just felt quality. Since then, I've driven many different guises and engines of the first generation XC60. The facelifts were always minor, and even now, after handing back the keys, I still feel that the XC60 holds the attractive features that made me fall for it years ago.
With that said, there are certainly some items which need to be brought up to date. When the XC60 was first released, the infotainment system within the vehicle would have been considered as being state of the art. While the system has been updated with award-winning SENSUS, etc., the presentation of the infotainment system now looks very dated. This would be one of the very few gripes that I'd have with this vehicle.
The all-new XC60, which is expected to arrive in Ireland this July, is going in the exact same direction as the XC90. It'll sport the same design language and host some of the same technologies that you'd find in the new 90 Series. We look forward to seeing the new XC60 in the flesh, and we have no doubt that it will be even better than what's currently on offer, but that still doesn't stop me from feeling a little nostalgic for the outgoing model. I mean, since 2008, Volvo has managed to sell a sizeable 750,000 of these – and by this stage, it has become a familiar part of our streetscape.
Over the years, Volvo did a good job in keeping the XC60 current. In 2010, they showed us the R-Design version for the very first time. This gave a more defined body shell, a stiffer chassis, and some nice R-Design features in the car’s interior. They also introduced new colours, new lights and other features.
Our most recent test car happened to be one such R-Design model. We were driving the R-Design, SE Automatic with the D4 engine. The D4 engine means that our car benefitted from a pleasing 190bhp mixed with a nice on-paper fuel consumption (4.7 l/100km).
On the road, the XC60 is easy to get used to. The driving position is raised and allows you to see plenty of the road ahead. Our test drive vehicle came with an 8-speed automatic gearbox. The 190bhp engine also offered a lot of torque, especially in lower gears – which can unfortunately result in the gears hanging on a little bit too long before they change. Our model was driven by the front wheels, and it drives excellently on motorways and in towns. However, the steering is a bit on the vague-side when it comes to our country roads.
This car is up against some amazing opposition with the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5. Both the BMW and Audi offer a more dynamic driving experience, but where the XC60 wins is in terms of comfort. The seats in the Volvo are more than comfortable. While the drive may be more dynamic in the other vehicles, the Volvo isn’t too far behind them.
In recent months, I have reviewed the Volvo S90. In my video review, I stressed that the S90 would offer massive competition to the A6 and the 5 Series in Ireland. The sales figures are proving me wrong, and I am slightly surprised that the S90 isn’t selling more volume. However, when the new XC60 comes along, I do think it will really impact on BMW and Audi. Like with the S90 I could be wrong, but the popularity of the XC60 over the last 9 years should have created enough loyalty to the car. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a lot of new XC60 vehicles on our roads during the 172-reg plate season.