Volvo XC60 Quick Test Drive
By James Wong
Volvo launched the XC60 without much fanfare in the local scene here in Singapore. As it made its quiet entry into the market, a prominently displayed unit outside the showroom here drew some curious stares. Unlike the XC90, its bigger brother, the XC60 sports a different approach to SUV motoring – while the behemoth XC90 has loads of space for 7 people, the XC60 offers less space on the inside than one would imagine. The rear bench, for example, seems more suited for 2 comfortably seated passengers rather than 3. And the headroom for those passengers might be a little lacking. And while the XC90 looked like a true-blue SUV, the XC60 offers a curious mix of a low-slung sports car and a heightened ride, a contradiction so apparent on so many levels that the XC60 creates a new segment in the market altogether. Not unlike the X6, the XC60 is definitely an interesting car.
The range-topping XC60 (the only version sold locally) features a twin-scroll turbocharger fitted to an inline 3.0L engine making 285PS and 400Nm of torque. On paper the engine certainly has impressive specs, making nearly 100PS/ton and having enough torque to rival certain V8 engines. On the road however, the XC60’s weight keeps performance in check, dialing down the pace from rapid to brisk and from brutal to forceful. Still, it is a very powerful car this, and even at higher rpms the engine does not lose steam. However, if you want to go fast, you’ll need to have a heavy right foot as somehow torque is biased towards the top-end. During the test, fuel consumption also was dismal, averaging 18L/100km – to be fair however, the car has been driven enthusiastically by others in its test drive lifespan as well.
Volvo has failed to surprise me when I took the XC60 to a corner. Like the XC90 and C70 I tried before, body roll is very apparent, sometimes even scary, making it clear that these cars aren’t meant to be driven hard. Its comfort-biased suspension also means that at speed, the car starts to get bouncy and unstable, unable to give the car a planted feel on the road. On this front, before one starts to get disappointed, I must mention that the XC60 certainly felt like an improvement over the C70 I took before. Certainly, some work must have been done on the suspension and the tweaks can be felt. Still, an adjustable suspension or something similar would benefit the XC60 in every way.
The interior’s where we will spend most of our time. Here Volvo has done a good job in terms of quality as well as fit and finish; in both Volvo has managed to make the XC60 feel expensive and long-lasting. One thing sorely missing however is a screen to manage the car’s air-conditioning, navigation and the like – something like BMW’s i-Drive or Audi’s MMI. Volvo has chose to remain basic and instead opted for a plethora of buttons which makes operation of many of the comfort options quite counter-intuitive. These days, a car this expensive also deserves more. A reverse camera is an option; without it, where a screen is supposed to be is a storage compartment.
In all, the XC60 represents Volvo’s efforts in capturing more market share in unique segments where people no longer want something specific but more of crossovers. And while the XC60 is not a master in any trade, it offers a very reasonable alternative to the X6 for those who don’t want to pay so much for a BMW. It does, after all, do what a car is expected to do perfectly. Just don’t expect more from it.
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