New Volvo XC60 takes on Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace
VOLVO'S seven-seat XC90 is one of the best new cars money can buy, which means great things are expected of its replacement for its smaller XC60 SUV, writes William Scholes.
The Swedish company, which is prospering under Chinese ownership, has just taken the wraps of the new XC60 which, rather sensibly, looks to do a good impersonation of a shrunken XC90.
More than most, Volvo knows what it takes to make a family car that fits in perfectly with its customers' needs: it says much about just how much Volvo got right with the original XC60 that it is still selling well and remains competitive nine years after going on sale. The XC60 represents around 30 per cent of Volvo sales.
Not only does the new car get a scaled-down interpretation of the XC90's highly appealing styling, but Volvo says it will be "one of the safest cars ever made" - no idle boast from the car company synonymous with safety.
As well as its physically strong construction, the Volvo's safety credentials are bolstered by a dizzying array of technology, including 'steer assist', a 'city safety' system and 'oncoming lane mitigation', which mitigates head-on collisions by controlling the steering. Even the blind spot indication system can use 'steer assist' to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions.
Pilot Assist, Volvo's advanced semi-autonomous driver-assistance system, which takes care of steering, acceleration and braking on well-marked roads up to 81mph, is available as an option.
"We have focused on building a car that can deliver pleasure to all of your senses - from a commanding view of the road ahead in a beautifully appointed and calm cabin, to a safe, inspired and confident ride," said Volvo's Henrik Green.
"We've paid particular attention to making life easier for our customers by providing them with the creature comforts and services that take the hassle out of everyday life."
That includes a four-zone climate control system which removes harmful pollutants and particles from outside the cabin "to deliver Scandinavian-fresh air on the inside" and Volvo's highly effective new infotainment system.
Volvo's 401bhp T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid sits at the top of the range, giving a 0-62mph time of 5.3 seconds.
As with the rest of the Volvo model line-up, all engines are four-cylinder units. Diesel duties are taken care of by a 187bhp D4 and 232bhp D5. A 251bhp petrol unit, badged T5, is also available.
"The XC60 is an SUV not designed to look down on others but to drive," said Volvo's Thomas Ingenlath.
"The exterior has an athletic sculpture with a subtle, timeless quality. The interior is a masterful composition of well-resolved architecture, beautiful materials and the very latest technology - all perfectly blended together.
"The XC60 provides a true Scandinavian experience, which will make our customers feel special."
The new car goes into production in April; expect prices to start above £30,000 and to be on a par with rivals such as the Audi Q5 and Jaguar F-Pace. A smaller XC40 crossover is due to join the Volvo range before the end of the year.