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The Volvo XC60: Get ready for safety and Scandinavian style in an SUV

The Volvo XC60: Get ready for safety and Scandinavian style in an SUV

The Volvo XC60 Momentum Pro

I felt an immediate affinity to the comfortable, intuitive and – most of all – safe Volvo XC60.

Perhaps this affinity is genetic. A few weeks before, I had been at a Pride reception at the Swedish Embassy in London, and the Ambassador’s wife had asked me which part of Sweden I’m from. Actually, despite my long blond hair, I’m not aware of any Nordic ancestry. Maybe I should take one of those ancestry DNA tests?

Anyway, it is equally possible that you’ll feel as at home behind the wheel of the XC60 as I did, whatever your hair colour.

We test drived the just-above-entry level Momentum Pro model, with the manual D4 Diesel engine, to see why.

Style, space and technology

As SUVs go, the Volvo XC60 is a subtly designed and decorated car.

Our model had sleek, cream coloured seating which Scandinavian designers would feel at home with. The solid wood and metal materials in the interior ooze quality. But more traditional car finishes are available too.

More importantly, there’s great leg and headroom for drivers and passengers alike.

The luxurious feel is enhanced by features to pamper both driver and passengers. These include separate climate controls for both parts of the car and heated front seats for those cold morning starts.

The boot is not quite as large as some competitor SUVs. However, four of us could put in our bags for a weekend away without any trouble. And if you are shopping, you can wave your foot under the boot to open the power-operated door.

The Volvo XC60 is designed for adventure so a touch of a button brings out a tailgate, so you can tow all the equipment you need.

The infotainment and Sat Nav system is operated from a responsive, 9-inch touchscreen. Unusually for a car, this is orientated in portrait rather than landscape, so feels more like using a phone. It is bright, crisp and clear.

We found it took a bit of time to master where all the menu options are, but that’s partly because there’s a lot of tech to choose from.

When you dig into it, it’s pretty easy to sync up your phone, particularly if you go for the Apple CarPlay and Android upgrade. If you love your Spotify time as much as my passengers, you can pay extra to upgrade to top-of-the-range Bowers and Wilkins stereo speakers.

Drive experience

We started our test drive on busy London streets. Actually, and I’m not even making this up, we took a trip to IKEA, as if we weren’t already Swedish enough. On city roads, the XC60 handled perfectly, while the rear camera made parking a doddle.

When we headed out onto the motorway, the Volvo felt at home. In those conditions it was easy to handle with strong acceleration to make headway when needed.

On country roads, I couldn’t help being aware I was driving a very big car. But the seating position is excellent, making you feel like you’ve got a superb view of the road ahead. Moreover, the fact that it maneuvers easily, pays off in narrow rural lanes as it does in busy urban streets. And the suspension renders all but the biggest potholes pretty harmless.

On the other hand, there are other cars which are far more responsive. Despite their Sports Utility Vehicle name, SUV’s are not actually sports cars. They are practical vehicles you can use in the city or take off road on an adventure.

So the VC60 doesn’t steer in quite as dynamic a way as you’d expect from a sports car. But for day-to-day driving, it’s unlikely to bother you, unless you are the kind of person who fancies themselves as an F1 driver.

Safety first, and second, and third

No car brand is more synonymous with the best safety features than Volvo. And the Swedes only burnish that reputation with the XC60. The Euro NCAP safety tests award it the maximum five stars.

My favorite of the safety features is a first class heads-up display. It projects not only the Sat Nav directions but also your driving speed and the current speed limit onto the windscreen. It certainly helps you keep your eyes on the road.

Meanwhile voice activated controls come as standard in the XC60. That means you don’t have the distraction of turning a dial to operate the radio or handle your mobile phone.

The Volvo’s steering support helps you detect cyclists, pedestrians or animals – useful in the city and the country. It’s got an excellent front collision warning and emergency braking and steering assistance. If you start to drift on the highway, the steering assistance will help you stay in lane.

If you accidentally swerve off the road, the protection system automatically tightens your front seat belts. Coupled with specially designed front seat frames, you’re far less likely to suffer a spinal injury if the worst happens.

Meanwhile the standard navigation system contains live traffic information and map updates, so you won’t be sent the wrong way.

And if you add an optional SIM card, the car will even book itself in for a service with a Volvo dealer.

The Volvo XC60 overall

The Volvo XC60 starts at £37,910, making it comparable to its direct competitors. And while you can pay over £60,000 for the top of the range, the basic Momentum model comes with a lot of the most attractive features as standard, so you don’t have to buy endless extras.

If you want high quality design, excellent safety and passenger and driver comfort, the XC60 is a great choice.

You can find out about the Volvo XC60 and look at what options work best for you here.

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