With the new platform, Volvo’s latest Drive-E powertrain range translates to the XC60. All four of the engines are four cylinder 2.0-litre units. Buyers who prefer ‘normal’ can choose from diesels with 190 or 235hp or a 254hp petrol plant, all matched to an eight-speed auto transmission.
Range-topper, however, is the T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. It has a supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine powering the front wheels and an electric motor between the rears. Combined they produce 407hp, but official CO2 emissions of just 49g/km.
Officially Volvo expects 12 per cent of XC60 sales to be T8 models, but they thought that about the XC90 and the actual figure has been quite a lot higher. And with the company’s plans to ramp up hybrid and electric sales over the next decade, we would expect the figure to eventually be a lot more.
Sadly the T8 was not available at the UK launch event. Instead The Car Expert drove the D4-engined car, which is predicted to account for more than half of all XC60 sales in the UK, and the D5. This is an impressive engine, thanks greatly to the clever PowerPulse system that injects compressed air into the turbo to spin it up at slow speeds and remove any lag.
However, one can understand why the D4 will be the big seller. On paper, it doesn’t quite have the pace of rivals such as the equivalent Audi Q5. But it feels enthusiastic, while impeccably refined.
The combination of an 8.4-second 0-62mph time, 55mpg fuel economy and emissions of 133g/km is a reasonable compromise, particularly at prices that are £3,500 less than the D5.
On the road
The new XC60 comes with a double wishbone front suspension, and a rear layout that uses a combination of links and a leaf spring across the rear axle. This might seem very old technology, but it offers better grip and less body roll. The latter is still notable, however, if not uncomfortable.
Both of the cars tested on the launch were to R-Design specification, sitting above the entry-level Momentum and described as the ‘dynamic’ trim. This means 30 per cent stiffer springs, thicker anti-roll bars and dampers that react faster.
What all this translates to is a polished, confident performance through twisty corners. It’s not what one would call exciting, but that is not really what the XC60 is about. This is a car that is refined and relaxing to drive, and to be driven in – one could imagine racking up a great many miles without fatigue setting in.
Electronic drive modes help one set the car to suit the environment or the driver’s inclinations. Five modes are available, setting the response of the throttle, gearbox, steering, brakes and stability control. Choose the optional air suspension and that can be set too.
The T8 hybrid, meanwhile, has its own six settings, Hybrid, Pure, Power, AWD, Off Road and Individual.
Next page: Equipment, summary and specifications