In a space dominated by the Germans, the Volvo XC60 comes as a breath of fresh air. In India, you buy a Volvo to stand out from the crowd, and the XC60 stands out amongst its luxury counterparts as it chooses to do things differently. Now it has got even better with this mid-cycle refresh.

volvo xc60

DESIGN
Volvo hasn’t tinkered much with the design. It retains the distinctively square shoulders, muscular yet understated front end, and perfect proportions that make the XC60 among the market’s sharpest-looking, mid-size luxury SUVs. The changes you see are a new grille and a reworked bumper but even those are relatively subtle. That creased bonnet remains. The area below the ‘Thor’s Hammer’ headlamps is now a lot less cluttered when compared to the 2017 model. Indian sensibilities have dictated the addition of more chrome lower down the bumper. The 19-inch alloys have been redesigned, and so has the rear bumper which has been reworked to tuck away the tips of the dual exhaust pipes. What you finally get is a vehicle that will easily attract attention in a parking lot full of luxury SUVs. 

XC60 facelift

POWERTRAIN AND PERFORMANCE
The new B5 badge on the Volvo XC60 indicates that there’s a new powertrain—a 2.0-litre petrol engine that works with a 48V battery system, making it a mild hybrid. The engine produces 250hp with the battery-motor system kicking in to improve acceleration and fuel efficiency. You hardly notice this hybrid system working, resulting in an incredibly refined SUV. The 8-speed auto, however, stops it from being super-quick; 100kph takes 8.3 seconds, making it far slower than its competitors.

The SUV does have a remarkable turn of speed, but that happens only when you smash the throttle to the floor and wait for the gearbox to respond. There are no paddle shifters or drive modes for the enthusiastic driver. You get manual shifts with the gear lever, but they feel unnatural with the left-to-right movement required to shift gears. The Volvo XC60 is meant for someone who doesn’t want to hustle their SUV. And that goes with the overall character of the car as well. 

The 2017 model was set up a tad too firmly for our roads, and it’s the same on this iteration as well. At crawling speeds, the SUV soaks up bumps very well. But increase the speed and the suspension’s firmness becomes more evident. That combined with the light steering (there is an option to increase steering weight, but it doesn’t make much of a difference) makes driving at high speed for sustained durations not very smooth. The drive is very comfortable at more standard speeds; an experience that is hard to beat among mid-size luxe SUVs. And if you prefer being chauffeur-driven, the way the throttle and brakes have been set up makes it a lot more difficult for even the ham-fisted of drivers to deliver a jerky ride. 

INTERIORS
Move to the interiors, and that’s where the Volvo scores. It mirrors the mechanicals in how it has been put together, with comfort and luxury in mind. There is a generous use of wood and brushed aluminium all over the cabin, giving it an opulent feel. The vertically oriented 9.0-inch touchscreen distinguishes itself from its rivals for screen real estate and function. Volvo has worked closely with Google to integrate the latter’s services in its cars, and the result is an infotainment system with Google’s software suite built in. You don’t need to connect your phone to access apps like Google Maps, and there are several apps you can download from the Play Store.

The rest of the digital instrument cluster has also been updated with a new design and graphics. A crystal gear lever adds to the bling. The XC60 comes with a lengthy features list like a PM2.5 air filter, a fantastic 15-speaker Bowers & Wilkins audio system, massage function, heating and ventilation for the front seats and a radar-based safety function. 

SAFETY FEATURES
It is also incredible how good the XC60 has become when it comes to City Safety tech, Volvo’s active safety suite. Unlike in previous-gen Volvos, the tech seems to be very well calibrated for our roads. Emergency Auto Braking intervenes only when needed, like when someone ahead of you slams the brakes or someone cuts across sharply. Even then, it stops the intervention if it notices you responding with braking or steering inputs. The auto-braking feature makes reversing a bit more difficult, especially if you are coming out on a busy road. The car keeps braking if bikes pass you by a couple of meters and pedestrians walk even a couple of meters from the vehicle. I didn’t mind that, though; it is better to be on the safer side. The lane-assist feature tries to keep you in the lane when you are switching between them, and you have the use the turn indicators if you are cutting through traffic on a highway and don’t want nudges on the steering wheel. The XC60, in a way, encourages safe driving. None of the City Safety features can be turned off, even temporarily. That is an excellent move, in my opinion. 

XC60 volvo

VERDICT
At Rs. 61.90 lakh (ex-showroom, India), the Volvo XC60 is bang in the middle of some tough competition. It, however, easily distinguishes itself from the other models available thanks to the safety features on offer, the opulent, well-equipped cabin, and the comfortable driving experience at standard speeds. 

When you look past the snob value of the three German badges, the Volvo XC60 might be the most accomplished when it comes to being a mid-size, luxury SUV. The Indian buyer’s reluctance to opt for Volvos at this point can be put down to the perceived badge value. The XC60 is an excellent SUV that offers way more than its competitors (cue the impressive safety suite), and it would be a shame if Volvo sales don’t pick up even in 2022.