Now hybridised, Volvo’s venerable XC60 shines on

Dunlop Sort Maxx

So, Volvo is steering away from diesel to a more hybridised future. This XC60 B5 AWD adds a 48V ‘KERS’ mild-hybrid starter generator to supplement Volvo’s tried and tested modular 2-litre turbo petrol engine. To reduce emissions and improve fuel consumption.

Still familiar after all these years, our XC60 B5 AWD Dark edition came with 19-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin rubber. Look there’s nothing new to look at, but that doesn’t really matter. Volvo arrived at a pretty timeless design for its SUVs closing on a decade back. It’s aged pretty well. As they say, if it ain’t broke, why fix it, and time is treating this one well.


Uber-safe XC60 was 2018 World Car of the Year

XC60 was World Car of the Year back in 2018. It has a 98% Adult Occupant Euro NCAP crash test result to keep it among the safest cars ever built. That thanks to a super-strong body shell, never mind the likes of Autonomous Braking, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, Blind Spot Info, and optional semi-autonomous Pilot Assist. Safe as Houses, they say.

Packing Volvo’s latest Android-powered system behind the familiar portrait infotainment, screen, it comes with built-in Google apps and services and good to get over-the-air updates. XC60 includes inductive smartphone charging. But more on that anon. It’s supremely equipped. There’s also dual-zone climate control, keyless entry, front and rear parking assist with a reversing camera. Add heated front and power driver’s seats.


Quick enough, lighter on gas

Now delivering 183 kW and 350 Nm to all four wheels via Volvo’s Geartronic eight-speed automatic, Volvo claims 6.9 second zero to 100 acceleration. We managed low sevens in our testing, while that hybrid oomph makes overtaking gains. It took just 4.8 seconds between 80-120, but at mid-seven from 100 to 160km/h.

So it’s still more than quick enough for most tastes. It’s also lighter on gas. We averaged better than claimed albeit on a more country route. It is said to manage over 900 km on a tank, which is good.


XC60 highlights cartainment conundrum

Now, getting back to that infotainment. First off, it needs connectivity to work properly. Our test car never had that, so we were forced to link it to 5G on our smartphone. Which we chose not to, most of the time. Apparently connectivity is part of the deal overseas. So to start, neither the main infotainment nor the driver info worked properly.

Then, this mostly buttonless and knob-free Volvo system forces you to delve through a mire of windows to access menial tasks that a simple button could do so much better. Once again, we struggle to understand why using cell phones is so rightly banned in cars, yet so many much more difficult to operate systems like this, are allowed to divert the driver’s attention?

Volvo is not alone in this conundrum. But considering this car is considered among the safest, surely that flies in the face of all those defensive and reactive safety efforts? Volvo has also skimped on the same old screen dimension, which is not really a concern, but it’s now smaller than most rivals, and limited by its upright orientation.


XC60 is still a great car to drive

That does little to mar a great effort though. Quiet, unassuming, and solid on the road, the XC60 has never skimped on ride quality, which remains exceptional. Progressive handling and road-holding makes it a pleasure to drive, wherever or however you drive it. In fact, all this new electrified B5 AWD did was to reaffirm how good the Volvo XC60 is.

Still an excellent X3, GLC, Q5 or Macan rival, the Volvo may have its cyber challenges, but then so do all its rivals. Make sure you pass a Volvo dealership before you make that call to buy a mid-executive SUV. This Volvo is a more than worthy rival. – Michele Lupini

Images & Testing: Giordano Lupini

ROAD TESTED: Volvo XC 60 B5 AWD Ultimate Dark
Engine: 183 kW 350 Nm 2-litre turbo petrol I4
Drive: 8-speed automatic mild hybrid AWD
0-60km/h:        3.39 sec
0-100km/h:       7.29 sec
0-120 km/h       10.00 sec
0-160km/h:       17.76 sec
400m:            16.1 sec @ 137km/h
80-120km/h:      4.81 sec
120-160km/h:     7.75 sec
VMax:            180 km/h
Fuel:            7.6 l/100km
CO2:             173 g/km
Range:           930 km
Warranty/Service 5y 100K/5y 100Kkm
LIST PRICE:      R1.087M
RATED:           8

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