Volvo has had something of an identity change in recent years.
Once the purveyor of safe and steady family cars, the Swedish manufacturer has recently been releasing models as or more desirable than the best Audi, BMW or Mercedes can produce.
First there was the fantastic XC90 then the V90 and S90 estate and saloon.
Now it’s the turn of the XC60. First released in 2008, the XC60 became Volvo’s best selling model of all time – no small achievement for one of its more expensive cars.
So this all-new model has a lot riding on it. Volvo has taken a gamble in ramping prices right up – they start at £37,000.
One glance is all you need to see where the extra money has been spent though. It’s beautiful inside and out, with a design flair and attention to detail that puts even premium rivals in the shade.
It sits on the same platform as the bigger XC90 and, unlike that car, is a five-seater only.
There’s a 2.0 litre turbocharged petrol with 250bhp but few buyers will opt for that. The bulk of cars will be either the D4 or D5 diesels – both 2.0 litre units with 188 or 232bhp. I drove the D5 in top spec Inscription trim, which has a base price of £44,705 (though my press demonstrator was loaded with another £12,000 of optional extras).
To be honest, entry level Momentum trim is probably all you need. That gives you heated leather seats, climate control, keyless entry and start, cruise control and auto lights and wipers, as well as the eight-speed automatic gearbox that’s standard through the range.
The XC90 is truly exceptional to drive. The engine is among the quietest of any diesel I’ve driven, ride quality is superb and refinement is top notch. It’s one of the most comfortable cars I’ve driven.
Handling’s good too, although not quite up to par with the dynamic Jaguar F-Pace.
The interior is very special indeed, with an ipad style touchscreen and tactile chrome buttons. The XC60 has front seats that are as cosseting as your favourite armchair.
Plenty of leg and headroom means rear passengers won’t feel short changed either, and a large boot will leave the dogs happy with their lot too.
Volvo has a less elite image than the premium German brands – no one thinks of one roaring aggressively up behind them on the motorway. It’s a friendlier brand and it now makes cars every bit as good as any of its rivals.