There hasn’t been a more exciting time for anyone to get into the Volvo brand than now. The Swedish marque continues to get things right, especially if its latest XC60 mid-sized crossover is anything to go by.
It doesn’t take much to figure out that it’s a ‘baby’ XC90 in every sense. But to know for sure, we spent an entire weekend testing one. Our takeaway: we’re certain this electrified crossover has all the right attributes to charm plenty of hearts and minds, and as easily as its bigger sibling has done.
At a glance, it’s difficult to tell apart the XC60 and XC90 – until you see the XC60 from the rear. That’s where its distinctively different tailgate and tail lights design stand out, apart from its smaller size of course. Still, if you like the XC90’s looks, chances are you’ll love the XC60’s.
The same can be said of it inside. Its overall design and trim mirrors the XC90’s. From the large iPad-like touchscreen to the fully digital instrument display to the novel Orrefors crystal gear knob, the XC90 influence is very evident.
And don’t let the slightly smaller size put you off. Taller folks may find leg and headroom has decreased slightly, but that’s no deal-breaker considering just how plush the XC60’s cabin is, especially in the T8 Twin Inscription Plus form. There’s enough fine leather and fabric, and soft-touch plastic all-round.
The XC60 doesn’t disappoint either in kit count. Besides the infotainment screen and digital instrument panel mentioned earlier, the XC60’s features include the all-important dual zone automatic climate control with rear vents placed at the B-pillars, enough 12-volt and USB sockets to charge everyone’s devices, as well as a panoramic glass sunroof, power adjustable front seats, and a heads-up display (HUD).
On the move, its powertrain takes centrestage. In the T8 Twin Inscription Plus, the XC60’s combination of a 2.0-litre turbo and supercharged petrol four-cylinder powerplant and a plugin electric motor delivers 407bhp and 640Nm of torque.
If you haven’t guessed yet, this is also what powers the XC90 T8, and an 8-speed automatic box manages both outputs. An intelligent all-wheel-drive (AWD) puts all that power down on the blacktop, which also means it can do the century sprint in a respectable 5.3 seconds.
Mileage, thanks to its hybrid nature, is tagged at 2.1 litres/100km when driven rightly. Switch the mode to ‘Pure’ and the XC60 will be able to cover up to 45km purely on electric power, provided the 10.4kWh lithium ion battery is fully charged.
If anything, the XC60 in T8 PHEV form feels very much at home with urban traffic. What’s noteworthy here is the cleverly tuned suspension setting, with this Volvo leaning heavily on the soft, comfort-focused side of things more than anything else.
It feels just as refined when tasked with highway cruises, although there’s a fair bit of wind noise at speeds past 140kph, a point at which it feels at its most comfortable. In short, it has the sort of pleasant driving dynamics and road manners to make it a very attractive proposition to almost everyone.
Of course, as always with Volvo, one can count on the safety and intelligent driver aids it offers. Lane-keep assist and adaptive cruise control make it seem like the XC60 could almost drive itself. Added peace of mind comes from features like autonomous city braking and blind spot warning, which further solidify its safety credentials.
Naturally, it can’t carry as much in the boot as the bigger XC90, but that doesn’t make it any less practical, if you consider a powered tailgate and push-button 60:40 split folding rear seats to be essential.
At its price point in its segment, it’s safe to say the XC60 T8 Twin Inscription Plus is in a class of its own: there’s no other comparable PHEV rival, for now at least. Nevertheless, besides the muted feel of its electric steering, and the other little niggles mentioned earlier, some may balk at its RM324,463.83 price. However, perhaps Volvo Cars Malaysia’s recently launched leasing programme might just help overcome that hurdle, especially for those looking to own one for no more than five years or so.
The ‘baby’ XC90 you’ve always wanted. Not the sharpest to drive, but comfortable, tech-laden and very efficient.
|Engine||2.0-litre twin-charged petrol four-cylinder with electric motor, AWD, 407bhp, 640Nm|
|Performance||0-100kph in 5.3 seconds, 230kph|