Technical analysis - Archive


Scandinavian appeal


Safe and reliable, the first Volvo mid-sized Sport Utility displays the expected Scandinavian quality and sturdiness, both front and all-wheel traction and great attention to safety standards  

Duilio Damiani

Introduced in the market back in 2008, and restyled in 2014, the Volvo XC60 can be considered a true market veteran. The compact Swedish SUV, Volvo’s best selling model in its class, boasts the same technological features, in terms of safety and assistance, of its larger, and best known “sisters”, the XC70 and XC90. Despite a ten-year-presence on the market, in its first version, and rather small sales volumes , if compared to the average German competitors, its quality and sturdiness allowed most of the XC60s made to reach our time without looking outdated or suffering major mechanical wear and tear, thanks mainly to its sturdy engines especially the new Drive-E Diesel and petrol versions introduced in 2014. This unusual resistance did not stop its development tough, with a new XC60 expected by the end of the year.



The fact that we are looking at a Volvo stands out at first glance. The styling, with all the classic design features of the Göteborg manufacturer, its distinctive lines, which sets it apart from the all other models in its segment, and the chamfered front end, contribute to add luster to the “family” Iron symbol. If we are to believe that the eyes are a window to the soul, the sophisticated headlights enhance the sporty and muscular character of the XC60, linking its restyled front grill and bumper to the powerful sides in a single flowing design. The side view features a lower section marked by a high beltline commonly found on high performance SUVs – forget practicing real off-road driving though – and a sloping higher section which recalls a coupe-like design. At both ends of the 4,63 mts in length, the generous wheel arches house four remarkable 20-inch wheels with a rear overhang that is almost missing to guarantee additional passenger space. A further characteristic element is the large rear tailgate, with a lower loading sill and assisted tailgate opening, framed by showy vertical LED tail-lamps.

Character and style are to be found also in the interior layout, refined yet sporty, assembled with different materials and a wide variety of high-quality inserts, geared towards maximum ergonomics. Five comfortable seats, after all it’s a Volvo, available also with more contoured front seats with a raised driving position. Behind the passengers, there is no lack of loading space with 490 liters guaranteed by the absence of the spare tire, expandable to 1450 by reclining the backseats.

The entry level trim gives meaning to the word hi-tech, with a flurry of drive assist devices. The handy voice activated navigation system and Adaptive Digital Display connects to the vehicle’s infotainment system with radio and CD speakers, aux and usb ports for remote devices, able to produce a sound worthy of a real concert hall, not to mention 3G Volvo-on-Call  connectivity service able to activate a wi-fi hotspot for smartphones and tablets.

The customary Nordic attention to health and environmental issues is noticeable in the great care taken in creating a livable interior space, with a Clean Zone Interior system that takes care of passengers with allergies through special filters aimed at making the inner space of the vehicle more neutral and healthier. Living in the mild and cozy Mediterranean climate, we may not fully appreciate certain sophisticated features on the XC60, but during particularly stormy winters we can always count on an electric windshield defroster, able to melt also the icy layer that often forms outside as well as heated seats (not to mention heated steering wheel).



The interior’s high technological contents continue seamlessly under the body, with a sturdy self-supporting chassis integrated with crumple zones, which received 5 EuroNCAP stars after a crash test, reinforcing structures and stiffer dampers to increase stress resistance. The five levels of power, offered by as many engines, guarantee five different driving experiences, from the quieter 150 hp 2-liter turbo-diesel D3 to the more exuberant 306 hp T6 petrol engine. Three new power units belonging to the Drive-E family were introduced back in 2013, ready to be upgraded with a hybrid system. A 245 hp four-cylinder T5 petrol engine and the direct injection turbocharged T6, along with the 190 hp D4 turbocharged, reduced to 2-liters, not to mention the 220 hp 2.4 liter D5. Two transmission systems are available, a traditional six-speed manual gearbox or, alternatively, a new automatic 8 speed, that can be managed by wheel-mounted commands, just like the latest sports cars.   

Travelling on a Volvo XC60 is a guarantee of safety also for anyone found outside the vehicle, considering the generous level of safety devices able to avoid any possibility of danger such as Stability Control systems, which includes Corner Traction Control, able to block the inner wheel increasing traction on the outer wheel allowing the car to regain its driving line, Hill Descent Control, coupled to an All-Wheel drive system to reduce the use of brakes driving down steep slopes. At night, Active Bending Lights adjust the intensity of the light beam and move following the direction of the curve avoiding to glare at those coming in the opposite direction. Last but not least, the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) with radar technology monitors and warns the driver sending signals on the display, in case of fast approaching cars, cyclists or pedestrians that happen to be dangerously close.  

Equipped as a true SUV, the XC60 boasts 17-inch alloy wheels with 235/65 R17 tires, the most suitable for seasonal replacements, not to mention the 235/60 R18 available on intermediate trims or the 235/55 R19 for the top-of-the-range models, with an optional 255/45 R20.

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