Sunday, 19 November 2017

Volvo's award-winner is perfectly proportioned

Volvo's award-winner is perfectly proportioned

GOING equipped is a time-honoured phrase that relates to someone “going equipped” to steal.

The “steal” in this case being that the new Volvo XC60’s very equipment — all the things on board that make up the whole of this accomplished car — steals a march on other SUVs (sport utility vehicles) of this size.

No wonder then that this week’s drive, the XC60, has been universally praised — including family car and business car of the year awards in Germany (a country justly proud of its own car manufacturing prowess).

So what’s so special about this new second generation XC60? There were things I really liked about this premium mid-size SUV.

And number one on my list just happens to be its size. Its new big brother the XC90 is a super SUV but maybe a tad large for some tastes.

Somehow the new XC60 solves this size anxiety. It feels roomy yet compact with no wasted space.

Then there is the comfort zone of this car. It so happened that we had to make two longish drives on consecutive days.

So this resulted in two days of driving around 500 miles. Now that may not be a lot to some people but nowadays I find that driving with its excess of concentration needed in heavy traffic can be wearing.

The Volvo XC60 somehow surmounted this problem because of the ergonomics of the cabin and its ease of passage.

This entails the way (as I have stated many times before) Volvo actually thinks about and caters for everyone who travels in their cars, not just the driver like some car makers do.

So if you are a rear-seat passenger you have been given as much consideration in the new XC60 as the person driving. There are no second-tier travellers in a Volvo: everyone inside the cab benefits from an ethos that is inclusive, which is how it should be.

There is the ease of operation of the Volvo’s so-called Sensus connectivity and infotainment systems.

Sensus is the umbrella term for this technology. Centre-stage is Volvo’s nine-inch screen information and entertainment system.

It comes in portrait rather than landscape style to emulate a smartphone or tablet rather than a typical car control screen.

It has pinch, zoom and swipe functionality — so those people whose dexterity with mobile phones is a way of life will feel at home.

Volvo says it will “work when you’re wearing gloves”. It has a voice-control system “designed to understand more than 300 naturally spoken instructions or popular phrases”.

The Sensus system also enables you to access a wide range of cloud-based apps.

Which all points to the fact that if I was buying a new XC60 — and paying upwards of £37,205 where the range begins for the privilege of owning such a car — I would want a proper Volvo
“teach-in” on how everything works.

It may be all right for so-called car enthusiasts (petrolheads is a term I loathe) but for ordinary motorists who are not technically adept, things do need to be explained if you are going to get the best out of your car.

In that sense, buying into the Volvo “family” might be termed an investment. In the annals of history, buying a car has rarely been an investment unless you are a collector/dealer in classic cars and the like. Yet with the kind of money one is expected to shell out for new cars, I think the buyer deserves the best service possible, sales-wise and after sales.

The technical equipment on the Volvo is complicated underneath the skin, I’m sure, but its design goal is that it should be simple to use and master.

Indeed, computers are not complicated if someone explains how they work to you and does not try to mystify the process.

So by all means check this car out if you want a worthwhile “investment” in your driving future, but ask as many questions as possible, get the specification that suits you, and find out from the expert selling you the car what does what.

There is as an optional pack at £1,500 that gives you Pilot Assist, adaptive cruise control, blind spot information system, cross traffic alert and rear collision mitigation.

All these “aids” to driving I would find essential equipment in a car of this calibre because above all else they make driving safer and easier.

I had great fun and practical usage from the 360-degree cameras on the new Volvo XC60. This comes with the Xenium pack (£2,000) that includes a power glass tilt and slide panoramic roof, and Park Assist Pilot — automatic parallel and 90-degree parking.

Other pluses were the heated steering wheel, the power tailgate and the Bowers and Wilkins sound system.

The stresses of motoring today can impinge on one’s enjoyment of driving. The new Volvo XC60 goes a long way to assuaging this anxiety, replacing it with real driver (and passenger) satisfaction all round.

Volvo XC60 D5 PowerPulse AWD
R-Design

Model as tested, including options: £50,560

XC60 range available from (D4 AWD Momentum) £37,205

Engine: 4-cylinder, diesel 1,969cc

Top speed: 137 mph

Acceleration: 0-60mph in 6.8 seconds

Emissions: 144 g/km

Fuel consumption (combined): 51.4mpg

Standard equipment on every XC60 includes:

Nine-inch centre console touch screen

Sensus Navigation

Voice-control system

Leather-faced upholstery

Motoring

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