The unquestioned reliability of a Volvo could almost be considered an urban legend. Synonymous with quality, an extremely high safety rating and the ‘Sunday driver’, they were the tanks of the road – at least that’s what parents would tell us.
Volvo XC60 | First Impressions
Fast forward to 2017 and the Swedish car manufacturer continues to hold rank in producing some of the most reliable cars on the market. The new Volvo XC60 manages to capture their renowned spirit alongside a progressive, yet understated Scandinavian design.
Taking both the T5 and T8 Hybrid model for a drive through Adelaide city and the surrounding hillside, here are our first impressions…
Jumping in the hot-seat, immediately noticeable was the attention to detail. Scandinavians have a global reputation in this department, and you’ve no doubt seen it in their architecture and furniture alike. The upholstery has been put together with a creamy nappa leather; soft to the touch, yet durable enough to withstand the daily rigours of your journies. The surrounding inlays are contrasted with matte finishes, which seem to be a subtle nod to the Volvo’s of yesteryear while still staying current.
Quality exudes from every aspect of the interior. You’ll notice this from the strategically placed storage compartments below the seats, to the layout and feel of the dashboard.
The centre display is a major step forward for Volvo. Seeming much easier to use than those of past models we’ve driven, the screen is broken up into four separate sections and controlled by gestures similar to most touchscreens. Giving you immediate access to apps as well as the car’s expansive functionality, this cuts out navigation time – something especially important while on the road.
The updated touchscreen has also improved the sat nav experience. However, we sometimes found ourselves being directed to turn much too late, in some cases we even missed the intersection due to the lack of warning. Some roads with traffic islands were also represented on the display as two separate roads, which was confusing. Fortunately, Adelaide is one of the easier cities in Australia to find your sense of direction. The instrument panel was also a nice touch – the completely digital display would adapt to driving modes accordingly without being too complex.
The new XC60 has a slightly longer wheelbase compared to previous models. For an SUV, this doesn’t seem to affect the car’s handling given the super tight turning circle (11.4 metres curve to curve, in case you’re wondering).
The drive was smooth and handled any challenges we put it through during our time with the car. Making light work of sharp corners, steep inclines and peak hour traffic, the SUV showed no signs of struggle. Traversing through the winding Adelaide hills was a breeze, too; especially so in the T8 hybrid due to its extra electric power.
Volvo’s new Pilot Assist technology is remarkably impressive. As the name suggests, this is designed to aid the driver, not replace them. Aimed at making the driving experience safer and easier, Pilot Assist will take the wheel on longer drives to ease the burden. Any unintentional lane drifts or close calls with surrounding traffic will be minimised when this is turned on; the car will also brake for you when it deems necessary. With this in mind, it’s important to note you shouldn’t be totally handing your driving commitments over to the XC60 just yet – Volvo makes a point of reinforcing this.
Blind spots can sometimes be troublesome in larger SUVs, and while the XC60 does its best to minimise this in the physical design, this has been further remedied with the updated Blind Spot Indication System, or BLIS. Taking it a step further than making the driver aware of an impending collision, BLIS will take to the wheels as a final call to support. This reduces the risk of a crash and brings you back into your lane.
Volvo is so confident in the safety tech that they’ve even pledged there will be no deaths or serious injuries in the XC60 by 2020 on roads marked up to 130km/h. It only takes a few minutes in the hot-seat to realise the sincerity in their commitment.
Experiencing these safety features to their fullest will set you back a few more thousand dollars above the base price of A$56,990.
The Finer Details
Volvohave always been meticulous attention to detail, and this hasn’t gone unnoticed with this midsized SUV. We were especially impressed by the speaker system, built in conjunction with English audio brand, Bowers and Wilkins.
Supreme audio quality aside, the higher specced XC60 also has warmers in the seats. One upping their contenders, Volvo has even added in massagers to the top tier model.
Smaller additions to the car that weren’t immediately noticeable were equally as impressive. The door sills are integrated into the door to avoid any mess or dirt making it onto your threads, and the height of the rear boot can be lowered if you have a hefty load that needs packing. You can also control the headlamps in higher end models, which are aptly titled Thor’s Hammer.
There are a plethora of added features depending on how high you want to spec your XC60, and if we’re honest, we could almost write another review on these alone.
The Wrap-Up – Volvo XC60 First Impressions
Volvo has been perfecting their craft for over 90 years now, and this is unmistakably evident in the XC60. Everything from the way it drives, right down to the grip of the steering wheel feels like it’s had their team spend hours on end perfecting each and every element.
The Volvo XC60 is undoubtedly one of the safest cars on the market today. What impressed us, however, is that the safety features haven’t hampered the SUV’s performance and handling on the road. In fact, it’s one of the smoothest, most reliable rides we’ve had to date.