Achange of pace for the XC60 this month. After its long trek north last month, carrying the family to a late summer christening in the Scottish borders, it has been back on local duty in recent weeks. During that time, it has made light work of a few trips into London and been an oasis of comfortable calm in the mayhem of upwardly spiralling traffic volumes. Pandemic? What pandemic?
My bike enthusiastic colleagues will doubtless disagree with me, but driving in London has recently become a nightmarish ordeal of new cycle lanes, blocked-off roads and car-unfriendly diversions. As a result, a drive in or around the city centre has become a tiresome time marathon even worse than it was pre-Covid. I wouldn’t mind if all the newly-created cycle lanes were busy with bike traffic, but mostly they’re not. So motorists are being channelled into ever decreasing road space to make way for largely unoccupied bike lanes alongside. And if that wasn’t enough to cope with, some side streets in central London have been coned off for social distancing. Grrrr!
Ah well, at least any tendency towards grumpy old driver mood is leavened by being in the Volvo. Its cabin is a constant oasis of calm, with its cool Swedish decor, comfily cushioned seats and general airiness. With an audio book or Radio 4 for company, it’s a grump-evaporating place to be. That’s also a reminder of how much a car’s interior colour scheme matters. So many business-savvy cars have such dark interiors, with an encompassing swathe of black or deep grey upholstery and gloomy roof lining. Combined with Mayor Kahn’s road-choking traffic schemes, it’s enough to put anyone in a grim mood. But it’s much harder to be miserable in a light and bright car’s interior like the Volvo’s. Hooray for that.
With autumn looming, it’s nice to make the most of current Indian summer weather and enjoy driving with the roof open. In some cars a rolled back sunroof can be an annoyance of noise and wind-rush, but the Volvo is decently refined for a biggish SUV, and its mechanical and over-body noise are both agreeably restrained. I keep the top shut in crawling London traffic though. Being cocooned is the best way through congestion.
More urban driving has tipped the fuel consumption narrowly back below 34mpg. I’d really like to up that by employing some economy driving techniques, learned from past experience as a competitive economy run winner, but sadly good economy is not exactly harmonious with jam-packed roads. It does beg the question of how much continuously idling, snarled-up traffic is costing the economy.
I’m mostly very happy that our XC60 is in R-Design trim, with all the added niceties that come with top level specification. With one exception. The front seats are sharply curved upwards at the edges, where they create a peak to surmount as you climb in or out. Tall chaps probably wouldn’t even notice it, but if you’re on the shorter side it’s a point to consider. Once installed in the seat, though, those huge huggy sides are quite nice to have. Especially when you’re aiming to stay calm and chilled in ruddy London traffic!
Date arrived 11th December 2019
Fuel economy 39.2-46.3mpg (WLTP combined) 33.6mpg (on test)
The XC60 is such a good all-rounder, enjoyable to drive, roomy and versatile with a spacious boot and all packaged in a handsomely styled bodywork.
Steeply raised edges of the sporty front seats, that are a feature of the R-Design specification, tend to get in the way a bit when entering and exiting the car.