Ever since Volvo has been breathing about their new design language, it is but natural that the whole world sits up and takes notice. Now Volvo cars are being categorized into desirable things than the earlier just for everyday use stereotype. It’s a good sign and especially when it comes from your own fraternity, then it’s a very good thing. All this started with Volvo’s “Naughty” creation, the S60 and then carried onto the Volvo XC60. Now, the Volvo XC60 in India is a strange contraption coz it has been launched to satisfy the soft roader SUV loving public in India. Its only recently that we noticed that the Volvo XC60 has been only compared on our blogs and not exactly reviewed, detail by detail. So we got a Volvo XC60 with us and have reviewed it as per the Indiandrives style.
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The XC60 has changed public perception about Volvo as a car making company and in India it is no different. Wherever we went, there was an air about the SUV that it is an exotic thing or something. The sharply chiseled bonnet and the peeled head lamps are something which strike an instant chord with the SUV. The airdam is outlined by aluminium . There aren’t any fog lamps provided though as Volvo feel that the current headlamps Xenon setup is good for the intended use of this car. This car is an import or CBU as we call it and is built in Belgium. The other factor is that unlike some others in its class, this car comes with an all tinted window configuration from its factory. The keyboard of a piano is what reflects out of the side steps of this SUV. The A pillar merges into the D pillar in a coupe fashion. The hips of this car, well look like a hippo but in a more stylish fashion. The ground clearance of this car stands at 230 mm which is just fine for a vehicle of its class while the 16 inch alloys have a unique pattern and design to them, which is a welcome change in this age of 5 spoke alloy wheels. There are twin tail pipes and a single wiper at the rear. On closer observation, one can see the demister lines on the rear glass.
The doors of the Volvo XC60 in India open wide and hence there is no problem in the ingress and egress department. The upholstery is a dual tone one and a welcome change from the others in its class. The steering wheel is a standard 4 spoke affair but there are a tad too many buttons on it. The driver’s seat has got memory functions to it and adjusting in the seat is not a big deal for even size 11 boot types. The instrument console is also a clear unit with just two dials, one for the rpm and the other for displaying the vehicle speed. On closer inspection, we noticed that the instrument panel is slightly veered towards the driver. Volvo wants us to think that we are sitting in a BMW, since, of all the German manufacturers, BMW is the only one which builds driver centric cabins and the Scandinavian seems to have taken a leaf out of BMW’s novel. The dashboard is made of premium soft touch materials and the central console has an aluminium accent dialed into it with a host of buttons placed in it. The glovebox, though not wide enough is deep to take in the owners manual and also some other storage items. Volvo have kitted out this car with many goodies and most of them are related to safety bits. Everything inside the cabin has a premium feel to it and we were hardpressed to notice any bad bits in the cabin. However the clutter of the buttons on the central console would make one remember that an infotainment system like MMI or iDrive would have worked wonders in this cabin. Nevertheless, the audio system in the XC60 is one of the best that we have recently heard and it is better than some of the brands that the Germans bring alongwith them.
The rear seats are supportive enough, but then it would be a chore if three were to be seated along. We found ourselves rubbing shoulders with the middle passenger severely begging for some leg room. The hump in the middle was causing all the trouble. Moreover, this SUV isn’t as wide and hence the shoulder room isn’t enough at the rear. There are DVD screens, which are placed conveniently behind the front seat headrests. The controls for the music system in the central console are also placed near the middle passenger’s footwell. The aircon for the middle row passengers is located on the B pillar with a fully off flap given next to it. The airconditioner is one of the most effective things in this car. It has such a chilling effect that two of the Indiandrives staffers were begging the driver to turn off the airconditioner. The rear seats split 40:20:20 and this aids in loading the cabin since the boot space is 495 liters. The boot opens on the press of a button as also closes with the same. However, the closing of the boot is a bit of dimwitted affair with the lid taking a long time to close.
Handling and ride quality
The Volvo XC60 in India comes with the same suspension settings that it is available internationally with. This means Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept or the 4C chassis feature comes into picture. Volvo has offered buyers three modes for the suspension. Those are Comfort, Sport and Advanced. The XC60 has been tuned to be on the firmer side and this is for given since the rear seat proportions wouldn’t be to the liking of the chauffer driven populace. For getting the best ride quality out of this European SUV, it is best that the Comfort mode be chosen. In this mode, though the ride quality still is firm, it is not sports car type hard. Just like its other European counterparts, low speed ride quality is not its forte and only at high speeds does the XC60 deliver some good ride quality. But then moving ahead with the Comfort mode, we realized that it is best for the city use only since this mode induces the SUV to have body roll by the dollops. So when you are in the mood for some cornering action or swift tactics, then the Sport mode comes into picture. The car’s tyres now have a certain grip to them which was missing in Comfort mode and the SUV now seems more comfortable dealing with high speeds. But then, the ride quality noticeably stiffens up. DSTC, a driving aid keeps on monitoring the SUV’s pace, roll rate, directional agility and also the steering movements. Accordingly, it either brakes the wheel/wheels or even reduces the engine’s power. This happens only if it thinks that the SUV would skid or one wheel has got more power being sent to it. The Advanced mode is something which gives a rock solid feel to the SUV and the chassis and suspension is at its stiffest position here. The steering wheel is more like a BMW one minus the instant connection or feel that you feel for the latter. It is not ultra light in the city but at the highway speeds, it is communicative but sometimes reaches a dead spot when in the mood for enthusiastic cornering. NVH is well controlled but the diesel engine gets very noisy post a certain rpm. Volvo has provided the XC60 windows with double layer protection and this, to a great extent, reduces the NVH levels inside the cabin. All wheel drive system as also the presence of many electronic aids mean that one can have enough fun chucking around the XC60 at high speeds around bends. Hill Descent Control is provided and this means that one can hold onto a certain speed while going uphill or down hill and this too without having to keep a foot on the accelerator. This system even works when the vehicle is slotted into reverse gear. Speaking of reverse, the outside rear mirrors do a cheeky thing of bending towards the ground level to give a better view of the rear. Now, that would have been a great touch if Volvo wouldn’t have actually made it to bend so lower that things immediately behind you aren’t visible. Moreover, one cannot control them as the electrical assistance to the ORVMs doesn’t work when the reverse gear is in use. Moreover the rear window is a narrow affair and hence visibility at the back is not that good. There are a lots of stowage spaces and some so hideous that even prospective owners would have a hard time going through them. The windscreen has got a toll clipper onto it and it is a useful touch. The central console has got an extra cubby hole behind it. Unlike the S60, this one provides a space saver tyre. Volvo should make this as a standard feature instead of relying on tubeless tyre puncture kits for their cars.
Engine, performance and fuel efficiency
For the XC60, there is only a 2.4 liter diesel engine as of now. This twin turbo 5 cylinder engine is widely used in many of the Volvo cars in India. This unit has a peak output of 205 Bhp which is delivered at around the 4000 rpm mark and torque figures of 420 Nm starting from as low as 1500 rpm. Volvo have offered this car with a 6 speed slush box. This gearbox is also shared with many other Volvo cars in India. We are not sure why Volvo does this, since they don’t have any manufacturing facility in India and hence the question of having products in the same assembly line doesn’t make a difference. The performance sure isn’t as maniacal as the petrol engine in the S60. It is at par with the Audi 2.0 liter TDI variant with a 0-100 kmph run coming up in 9.2 seconds and the top speed we could rake up being 203 kmph. The engine sounded very gruff at that point of time and it is no wonder that it is best left to be at a sedate pace. Leaving the engine aside, the gearbox is also well suited for the city use. Ask it to upshift and it will do so without any hesitation whereas for the downshift, it is a chore. Chore in the sense that we could actually sense its hesitation to go one down. Some more careful refining of this gearbox would be a good thing for Volvo. At low speeds, the gearbox is a happy unit and at higher speeds, it seems a bit busy for the downshifting action.
Braking in this Volvo is self induced. We tried the City Safety System that Volvo was advertising on this car. The system works on the principle that the laser system ahead of the grille constantly maintains a distance between the vehicle in front and if at all the vehicle ahead stops and the driver of the Volvo doesn’t react on time, then the system first primes the brakes, gives audible beeps to the driver and if still the driver is too lazy to react, then it would automatically apply the brakes. There is a latest gen ABS, EBD, ESP, traction control DSTC and what nots for this SUV. Moreover the all disc combination is a maintenance free unit and has a long interval for replacement in this class. As for the safety features, BLIS or Blind Spot Driver Warning system is present just below the outside rear view mirrors and the outside portion of the rear view mirror is a concave section. This section constantly checks if there is a car or bike behind you, which might be not in your line of vision and then alerts you via a bulb near the ORVM which starts glowing a deep orange once the object is very near you. As for the reversing of this car, there is a reverse parking camera which not only shows everything behind you but also charts out the possible path that the vehicle will travel, depending on the steering actions. Volvo never specifies the number of airbags available in its cars and hence there is no official wording on the airbags that this car carries with it. Driver attention alert system also awakes the driver if it detects a certain pattern of the driver crossing road markings twice. This warnings can be either through audio or even by a tea cup symbol coming up on the display. The navigation system provided in this car is entirely built for Indian use and hence even the names of buildings are displayed on it. Even though, it has got 4 wheel drive, this vehicle cannot put two wheels onto the mud due to the lack of a low ratio.
Even under extreme panic braking, the Volvo XC60 never stepped out of line and credit should be given to Volvo for ensuring that a very safe vehicle has been built and one which remains the same under all conditions. The fuel capacity that this vehicle can take is 70 liters and inspite of being a diesel, its not a frugal sipper. The vehicle returned 7.8 kmpl in the city cycle and the open highways saw it returning 11.2 kmpl. Euro NCAP ratings say that the Volvo is the safest in its class with a 5 star ratings. Moreover, rumors are afloat that Volvo claim this car to be the safest one it has ever built and we can only second that claim.
The Volvo XC60 in India is a very competent SUV in its class especially a good alternative to the Germans in here. For the most part of the review or even test drive, the Volvo XC60 behaved in a predictable manner, save for the stiff ride quality and seating arrangement at the rear. Volvo offers a 2 year / 60,000 kms warranty, whichever is earlier clause and this also includes free services. We wish that Volvo had also provided in louder horns for this car since the stock horns seem to be too polite for the Indian crowd. Volvo desperately need to ramp up their facilities or rather dealer network in India since wherever we went, there was a huge buzz about this SUV and everyone wanted to know its price and the run of the mill question was also popped up “Kitna deti hain?”. With only a dealer network of 10 and some wayward ads in the newspapers, Volvo cannot gather the public attention. This XC60 is available only in one variant with the choice of options left to the number of safety features to be added. The Volvo XC60 price in India is Rs 39.40 lakhs. This is ex-show room Mumbai. We would say that go for this SUV with your heart and not mind.