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2014 Volvo XC60 Full Review: The Charms Of Swedish Practicality

EDITORIAL
Carlist News August 20, 2014 10:30

It ought to take very little effort to swoon you in favour of the new 2014 Volvo XC60. Understandably, they’re not priced within the majority of our budgets, but if that was a concern of yours, it’s likely that you wouldn’t be here to take this review seriously, anyways.

Tried, tested and gone on to become the company’s best-seller worldwide since it was originally introduced in 2008, there’s very little about the new Volvo XC60 that could throw us off from a fairly positive review of it.

Recently, Volvo Car Malaysia launched the facelift model you see here, equipped with a slightly new look, and a largely different powertrain. The new Drive-E engine is now a completely Swedish-made one (stepping away from Ford derivatives of any sort), and the transmission is now an eight-speed torque converter automatic right off Aisin’s catalogue (also relieving Ford’s dual-clutch PowerShift of its duties).

And there you have it: ol’ faithful gets a new look, new power, and a new price that’s RM12,000 cheaper than the pre-facelift model. So is it any better than before?

XC60 Volvo

Buyer’s Guide: Should you buy one?

The new looks aren’t bad, but there isn’t enough that’s different to hold a decent conversation over, given the very minor changes from before. For power, yes, there’s seemingly a lot more than before that makes the XC60 capably aggressive (despite its on-paper credentials), and it all comes together very nicely when paired with the new transmission - believe us when we say that this thing has got what it takes to shame a comparable BMW X3 (xDrive20i) in a straight line.

With just these changes, you can rest assured that the magic formula that made the XC60 special in the first place has been left unchanged. All that’s different and new is here to keep the car up-to-date, give it more power, improve consumption and make it more comfortable to drive – nothing we could ever complain about.

And most importantly, it’s more affordable than anything else you could officially buy in the segment. Still need a bit more persuading? Here goes:

Volvo XC60

Driving a 2014 Volvo XC60:

Before we get into any of the driving bits, let us first make it clear that the new Volvo XC60 you see here is equipped with every option available, and that particularly includes: an all-round bodykit, a cool adaptive digital display for your instruments, and a set of RM15,400 20-inch alloy wheels.

PERFORMANCE: In short, the new power is good. Listed for a 5hp and 30Nm of torque more (totalling 245hp, 350Nm), the XC60 requires both hands on the wheel to help deal with its torque steer when you go hard on the throttle (even with its large 20-inch wheels – something we suspect also has to do with the shorter ratio per gear spread out over the new eight-speed automatic transmission.

In short, what you get is a Volvo that will outrun a comparable BMW (X3, xDrive20i) by more than a second in a 0-100km/h sprint (XC60’s 7.2s vs. the X3’s 8.3s). More worryingly is how Volvo plans to tame its more powerful T6 version when that gets here!

When a surge of power is needed for overtaking, the gears are ever eager to shift down a notch (or two), to get the most out of the engine’s torque. At the upper end of the gears, there’s lots to appreciate from seventh and eighth speed that keeps revs (and fuel consumption) low at legal speeds.

Volvo XC60

RIDE & HANDLING: Around a quick corner, body roll has become synonymous with modern Volvos, but that’s alright, because in turn, you are rewarded with a ride you and your passengers can appreciate for the most part – not that we’d recommend any kind of exuberant driving in a Volvo SUV anyways. In tighter areas, the 20-inch wheels fitted with turn limiters to prevent any inner wheel-wall rubbing does reduce the XC60’s turning circle, but not nearly enough to cause any serious trouble.

When you do break free of congested areas, the XC60 rides as well as ever – soft and supple over typically harsh Malaysian urban and city roads, while on highways, the comfort from the seats and suspension geometry lets you seamlessly gobble up the miles without notice.

VISIBILITY: Given the larger proportions of the car, it wouldn’t have hurt so much if Volvo Car Malaysia spec-ed its XC60 with a rear-view camera – or at least make it an option. You do get surrounding sensors to help guide you, but the reassurance of a rear camera can’t be beat.

Volvo XC60

Living with a 2014 Volvo XC60:

As mentioned, there isn’t much else that’s changed to the ‘living’ elements of this car. Volvos of all shapes have been setting the standard for the longest time – in our books – and the facelifted XC60 is no exception with its timeless functionality.

The Sensus control display interface and features within have been updated to look and work a lot better than before, and if you choose to add on the ‘VIDAR’ package, you’ll have your instruments updated to a full-on Adaptive Digital Display system (see the picture above for this) - otherwise, the standard kit is alright.

Elsewhere, the cargo capacities and flexibilities of this car are phenomenal. On top of folding flat for added spaciousness, the rear bench can be transformed to provide booster seats for kids. Adults in the back should have no problems as well, with AC vents on the B-pillars, and lots of leg and headroom to properly relish the comfort of the seats.

The only thing I personally couldn’t gel with in the XC60 is its front seat headrest, which are fixed in place permanently to the backrest, designed to prevent whiplash injuries. The safety benefits aren’t disputed, but the trade-off is to live with a car that tilts your head forward too much (at least for this driver). You can work around it by leaning back the angle of the seats themselves, but it may be a bit disappointing to owners knowing that your car’s seat will never fit you perfectly. At least, your chances of whiplash are reduced.

Volvo XC60

Verdict: Here’s what we think…

At RM288,888, you really couldn’t ask for better. Germany’s duo of the Audi Q5 and the BMW X3 may boast fancier badges, but they’re also nearly RM40k more expensive. Are they worth that much more? We don’t exactly think so.

The Volvo is on paper the most powerful of the lot (vs. Q5 2.0 TFSI, X3 xDrive20i), and for equipment, it holds its own extremely well in the segment. The BMW does have the edge for driving dynamics, while Audi’s quattro AWD system may allow it to go more places than the FWD XC60, but how often is going off-road on the agenda for these premium SUVs, anyways?

If the package is right, but the power still not enough, don’t forget, there’s a T6 Drive-E coming as well.

So, should you? Yes, is our humble suggestion. Give it a shot at a showroom, and you will be quite impressed with what’s on offer here.

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