Last year was a notable one for Volvo. The Swedish manufacturer sold over 700,000 cars around the world, for the first time in its 93-year history. Here in the UK it registered 56,208 new Volvos in 2019, up 11.7 per cent from the year before. The ‘I roll’ carmaker – that’s how ‘Volvo’ appropriately translates from the original latin – is certainly on a roll.
It attributes much of this success to rocketing sales of SUVs. That includes the XC60, the latest model year example of which has just joined the Our Cars fleet. As an unapologetic SUV fan – I love the elevated driving position, the busy lifestyle practicality and the confident driving style – I was quick to grab the keys of our newest arrival.
Volvo has a distinguished history as an SUV manufacturer. It was ahead of many other marques with its first one, the XC90, originally launched 18 years ago in 2002. The XC60 is its smaller brother, and dates back to 2008. The second-generation model XC60 arrived in 2017, and ours is the revised 2020 model year car in B4 diesel AWD R-Design spec with a 2.0-litre diesel engine and mild hybridisation.
It’s a confidently styled, handsome SUV, skilfully designed by Volvo’s Thomas Ingenlath to look smartly proportioned without seeming overly bulky. It is also one of the cleverest cars on our fleet, with its smart technology that includes the remarkable ability to let you set the navigation system remotely, while sitting indoors ahead of a trip. You can do this via an app on your smartphone. More about that in a future report.
Our car is eye-catching in its Ice White exterior paint, which is a very chic colour, if somewhat prone to quickly looking grubby after even a short drive on damp winter roads. The cabin’s elevated seating comprises contour sports seats upholstered in a trendy slate grey shade with a charcoal open grid pattern. That’s a very serviceable choice for a family car.
Standard equipment on the R-Design is already pretty generous, but our XC60 comes kitted out with a couple of very desirable extras packs. The pricier of the two, adding £2,000 to the car’s up-front price, is the Xenium pack. It delivers a power glass tilt-and slide panoramic sunroof with sun curtain, a reversing camera, an automated parking system for both parallel and bay parking and four-zone climate control that includes a handy cooled glovebox. Then, for another £525, there’s the reassurance of having the winter pack. It adds a headlight cleaning system and heating elements for the front windscreen, steering wheel and wiper blades. Happily, all XC60s come with heated front seats, so we have those too. I’m a big fan of having a warm driving seat and steering wheel, so am very happy that the XC60 is thus equipped. Although even a heat-hungry driver like me can’t tolerate the top setting of the three-level temperature control for each of them. It’s just too hot! So I’m keeping both of those pretty much permanently adjusted to the middle setting. Well, at least until the end of winter anyway. Then even when spring arrives, they’ll probably still be in use. A gently heated seat, in particular, is a boon for achieving a good combination of driving comfort and alertness, by letting the climate control be dialled down to a cooler level than you might otherwise use.
So, welcome to our new Volvo, joining the ranks of Our Cars for the next six months. The recently mild winter weather is currently giving the car an easy time, but it’s very reassuring to know that it is a car eminently capable of coping with an arctic winter in its native Scandinavia, and more than ready for anything a British winter might be revving up to throw at it.
Date arrived 11th December 2019
Fuel economy 39.2-46.3mpg (WLTP combined) 38.2mpg (on test)
The Volvo On Call system that lets you use an app on your mobile phone to remotely check the car’s status and set various functions.
The large vertical touchscreen is a magnet for fingerprints and has to be regularly cleaned to stop it from looking like this when switched off.