Everybody laughed at Volvo a decade ago for catering to older drivers that just wanted a safe box to travel around in.
Today, when safety is paramount and one of the first requirements of most new car buyers, it's little surprise that Volvo's sharpened design pencil has garnered a great deal of interest amongst buyers.
None more so than the 2018 Volvo XC60, which blends striking design with safety. It looks like a mini XC90 (and rides on the same platform) and that's no bad thing.
We had the chance to briefly drive the Volvo XC60 T8, the range-topping Plug-in Electric Hybrid Vehicle (PHEV), which straddles the line between efficiency and sporty performance.
XC60 pricing starts off with the XC60 Momentum D4 from $59,990 (plus on-road costs) and goes all the way through to the XC60 T8 from $92,990 (plus on-road costs).
In between, the XC60 range can be had in Momentum T5 guise ($62,990 plus on-road costs), Inscription D4 ($66,990 plus on-road costs), Inscription T5 ($69,990 plus on-road costs), R-Design D5 ($73,990 plus on-road costs) and R-Design T6 ($76,990 plus on-road costs).
From the outside, the XC60's design is quite striking with strong lines and a sporty stance, especially in T8 trim. You can tell the T8 apart from other XC60 models in traffic thanks to an additional filler cap located on the driver's side three-quarter panel.
Powering the XC60 T8 is a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine that produces 235kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It teams with an electric motor that produces 65kW of power and 240Nm of torque, providing a combined power output of 300kW of power and 640Nm of torque.
Torque is distributed by an eight-speed automatic gearbox, with an official combined fuel consumption of 2.1 litres of fuel per 100km. Torque is sent through a permanent all-wheel drive drivetrain.
Representing over 30 per cent of sales for the Volvo brand globally, the XC60 is an important vehicle both domestically and internationally. Volvo has loaded this top specification XC60 T8 with plenty of standard kit, including:
- Keyless entry with hands-free tailgate opening and closing
- Collision mitigation support (forward collision warning with autonomous braking)
- Lane keeping assistance, blind-spot monitoring, rear cross-traffic alert, and rear collision warning and auto-braking
- 360-degree camera with front and rear parking sensors and semi-automated parking
- Hill-descent control with hill-start assist
- Driver, passenger, front side, full-length curtain airbags
- Adaptive cruise control with speed limiter and PilotAssist with steering assistance and heads-up display
- 12.3-inch driver information display
- 2x USB ports, Bluetooth phone and audio streaming, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, DAB digital radio and satellite navigation
- Four-zone climate control
- Nubuck Leather seat trim with leather-lined steering wheel and gearknob
- Power adjustable driver’s seat and front passenger seat
- Auto-dimming rear-view and side mirrors
- LED headlamps with active bending beams and auto high-beam lights
- Rain-sensing wipers
- Sports seats with front seat cushion extension
- Sport chassis (the above have the standard Dynamic chassis setup – Sport has a stiffer edge to it)
- 21-inch wheels with tyre pressure monitoring system and temporary steel spare wheel
Step inside the cabin and this is the definition of premium. Every surface is perfectly finished, while the large 9.3-inch Sensus Connect infotainment screen pairs with a 12.0-inch driver information display.
The infotainment touchscreen includes DAB+ digital radio, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto as standard in this specification. It's easy to use, but can be fiddly at times navigating through menus to find what you're after. The lack of knobs also makes things like changing cabin temperature a bit annoying at times.
As opposed to other XC60 models, the T8 uses a small crystal glass gear selector that moves backwards and forwards to select gears. It's a novel idea but can be annoying when trying to u-turn in a hurry.
The steering wheel sits nicely in hand, while visibility out the front, sides and rear is excellent. The wing mirrors are big enough to catch cars in traffic, while the blind-spot monitoring system works well to catch vehicles and motorcycles in blind spots.
The seats are a work of art in themselves, hugging the body nicely and providing sufficient support for longer distance journeys. There are also handy storage cubbies beneath the rear seats for storing electronic devices.
Second row leg- and headroom is surprisingly good. I found that with the seat even in its furthest setting there was still room to climb in and get comfortable. A centre armrest folds down to offer dual cupholders and storage for loose items. It also reveals a ski port through to the cargo area.
T8 models come standard with quad-zone climate control, meaning second row passengers can individually set temperatures using an LCD screen above the rear air vents.
Cargo capacity measures 505 litres and the second row folds in a 40/20/40 split fashion with inbuilt ISOFIX anchor points. That 505-litre capacity includes storage beneath the boot floor, which in the case of vehicles with air suspension is robbed by two large pressurised canisters used to control the suspension.
We hit the road to see how usable the hybrid drivetrain is in real world conditions.
The T8 can be driven either in full electric mode (with a driving range of 40km) or hybrid mode where it utilises both the electric drivetrain and internal combustion engine to obtain best acceleration results.
Powered by a 10.4kWh lithium-ion battery cell, the T8 has a standing acceleration potential of 5.3 seconds from 0-100km/h, which is pretty impressive. Charging takes around two-and-a-half hours on a standard household plug, while the engine can also charge the battery – but obviously this burns more fuel.
As we drove through the hills of Adelaide, what really surprised us was how quick the T8 was. The twincharged engine can be hit at any speed and is supplemented by the rear-mounted electric motor to deliver cracking acceleration that's unexpected from an SUV.
Our test vehicle had the optional premium pack, which adds heated front seats, panoramic roof, tinted rear glass, power folding rear headrests, power folding rear backrest, Bowers & Wilkins audio system and air suspension for an additional $7500.
The air suspension really transforms the ride and offers an extra level of compliance, especially given it's riding on 21-inch alloy wheels.
Drive modes can be adjusted to further tailor ride, steering and throttle response. Drive modes include Comfort (a mix of efficiency, performance and ride), Pure (designed for maximum efficiency), Power (the most dynamic vehicle setting), All-Wheel Drive (torque from the petrol engine goes to the front axle, while the rear axle is exclusively powered by the electric drive system), Individual, and an Off-Road mode (which is designed to increase ride height when air suspension is optioned and tailor the drive mode for limited stability conditions).
One thing that we found really hard to get used to was the brake pedal feel. The pedal was extremely touchy and is likely to send you through the windscreen the first time you use it. It takes some time to get used to and really doesn't need to be so aggressively tuned.
On the safety front, Volvo has loaded this car with technology that puts it ahead of the curve in comparison to its competitors. There are systems that aim to prevent your vehicle veering into the path of an oncoming vehicle, if for example you have fallen asleep or become unresponsive, along with a system that increases steering input if it detects the driver aggressively steering away from an approaching object.
The same systems work to steer the vehicle back on to the road if it detects the driver unexpectedly heading off-road into a stationary object, while the blind spot monitoring system can steer the XC60 away from a rearward oncoming vehicle that the driver may have missed.
Volvo includes a three-year, unlimited kilometre warranty as standard with 12 monthly, 15,000km service intervals. Capped-price servicing is available for three (45,000km), four (60,000km) or five years (75,000km) at a cost of $2225, $3500 and $4230 respectively.
The all-new Volvo XC60 really steps up the game and this efficient T8 model delivers the goods in terms of performance, space and versatility. How realistic is that 2.1L/100km fuel economy figure? We'll have to wait and see when we have a chance to get one through the garage.
In the interim, it's definitely a vehicle you should be adding to the list if you're in the market for a premium SUV. You're bound to be impressed.
Click on the Gallery tab for more images of the Volvo XC60.