Volvo powers ahead

It’s been 10 years since Volvo separated from Ford ownership and was acquired by Chinese giant Geely. In that time has become an even more important player in the premium motor sector, clocking record sales.

Now the firm is kicking on, determined to become a leader in electrification, autonomous drive and new mobility models and says that by 2025 it wants half of its global sales volume to consist of fully electric cars, with the rest hybrids.

It’s also the case that the firm continues with  its legendary reputation for safety, with its Intellisafe technologies and stated aim that from now on nobody shall be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.

Sitting below the flagship XC90, the XC60 is an excellent example of Volvo’s evolution with its standout elegant styling, high levels of standard equipment and range of petrol and hybrid vehicles, including  the T8 twin engine plug-in hybrid driven here.

It does look the part, sleek and svelte, but with a commanding road presence. It still features the now familiar ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlamp design, as well as the recognisable updated grille bearing the Volvo Iron Mark and 21-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels.

All new Volvos feature a  connectivity and infotainment system called Sensus via the central screen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment applications. The tablet-style touch screen enables easy and fast access to a host of functions and features. Smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also available.You can even turn the car into a WiFi hotspot thanks to the standard data SIM card.

But it’s the plug-in T8 or twin engine hybrid that is the beating heart of this model, offering sporting performance, low emissions and excellent economy from the petrol engine/electric motor combination. In addition it is capable of around 30 miles of range on electric power only and zero emissions. Volvo’s official mpg figure of 134mpg seems pretty fanciful for every day driving, but it is fairly economical for such a big car, delivers emissions of less the 50g/km.

The power delivery is a combination of  powerful two litre petrol engine assisted by a 65kW (87bhp) electric motor and powerful lithium-ion battery, giving a combined output of around 400bhp.

For a daily work commute the electric range of around 15 miles each way will keep the petrol costs down, but the vehicle needs to be plugged in and charged every day. Otherwise the combination of petrol and electric work together, which also drains the electric power fairly quickly. To mitigate this the  ‘B’ position on the auto gears selector allows the battery to regain power under braking, while slowing the vehicle by just taking your foot off the accelerator.

On the inside build quality is exceptional with soft touch materials throughout, powered and heated leather seats which are firm and supportive and a large glass areas. There is good leg and headroom all round and occupants feel cocooned in luxury. Features include two-zone climate control, cruise control, rear parking sensors, electric windows and door mirrors and this R Design also features parking camera, head-up display in windscreen  and heated steering wheel.

It is an engaging drive, Even at high speed, engine and road noise is muted, with just a hint of wind noise on the large, folding door mirrors. Excellent torque means motorway driving is a comfortable affair, the key acceleration range of 50-70mph achieved with ease.

There are selectable modes, including EV only, Off Road and Individual or sport with vehicle setting adapting accordingly.

It’s a big car, bit can hit 60mph in neck-wrenching 5.5 seconds with a more dynamic version of the standard suspension for that sportier, feel. It handles well for the type and size of vehicle, with little body roll while the adaptive on demand all wheel drive is perfect for rougher terrain or inclement weather condition.

It’s practical with plenty of stowage and oddment holders. Boot space is decent with 483 litres, while the 60/40 split folding rear seats open up to 1,410 litres. All models offer a  power-operated tailgate, which can be raised or lowered at the touch of a button or by simply putting your foot beneath the rear bumper, perfect for when you’ve got your hands full or when loading bulky, heavy objects in the boot.

It’s a Volvo and almost by definition is safe, so safety kit is extensive, with City Safety, part of the Intellisafe package, which includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, and front collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking and steering assistance, plus Run-off Road Protection which automatically tightens the front seatbelts should the car inadvertently leave the road.

Factfile

Volvo XC60 T8 R-Design Pro AWD PHEV

Price: £57,720

Mechanical: Combined 390bhp, 1,969cc, four cylinder petrol engine and electric motor driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Insurance: 42E

Max speed: 143 mph

0-62mph: 5.5 seconds

Combined mpg: 134.5

CO2 emissions: 47g/km

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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