John Challen advises would-be XC60 drivers on the best options from the list.
P11D/BiK: £55,395 (15%) MPG (WLTP): 100.9-113.0mpg CO2 (WLTP): 55-64g/km Economy, as tested: 72.1mpg
I’m not sure how closely some people look at options lists on their new car, but it’s probably worth paying a bit of attention, just in case you omit something that you find yourself, somewhere down the line, cursing because you left it off.
The driver assist package in the Volvo (priced at £1,500) is well worth the investment. The Swedish brand has held on to its reputation as one of the safest – if not THE safest – car brand out there. Or at least the one that puts safety first. So for the money, you get all-round monitoring, with blind spot warning technology, steering assist, automatic brake and rear collision mitigation. There’s also pilot assist and adaptive cruise control added into the mix. I know some people aren’t fans of ADAS, but the fact that those systems are there, when required, has got to be a positive.
One warning signal the car doesn’t transmit is when you’ve left the charging flap open when replenishing the battery. I must’ve made the same mistake about 15 times – to the point where other drivers were pointing it out to me as I drove along the road oblivious to the fact that it wasn’t shut.
Another sound (pardon the pun) investment is the Harman Kardon entertainment system – priced at £850. Surround sound with Dolby Pro Logic II transforms the XC60’s cabin into an auditorium, with crystal clear quality. The pack also includes the smartphone integration with Apple’s CarPlay or Android Auto, which has worked seamlessly with numerous devices onboard.
These options add to the overall positive experience of driving the XC60. The plug-in technology won’t work for everyone’s driving habits – and the limited EV-only range can often disappear before you know it, especially if heading straight onto A roads, which I often do. But short urban journeys – not exactly what all XC60 drivers would be undertaken, granted – can keep you from the fuel station, if managed effectively.
Just remember to charge up regularly – and also to close the filler cap when you’re done!
As the run up to Christmas begins, so do the freezing cold mornings, which are rarely a pleasant experience. Fortunately, our XC60 is equipped with creature comforts such as heated seats all round and – my personal favourite – a heated steering wheel.
I’m happy to say that I’m seeing – or even feeling – warmer wheels more often these days. As an effective way of heating EVs, they are becoming commonplace on a lot of the cars I get to sample at the moment. At a time when there are debates about ‘how much technology is too much technology in cars?’ and ‘do vehicles have too many gadgets?’, I for one am happy to have these additions. Whether or not voice control for pretty much everything in a car is required – possibly not, but it’s nice to have the options.
Anyway, back to the Volvo and I’ve gone one step further with the Volvo App, which allows you to pre-heat/cool the car before departure. Another great invention, although one that some drivers will probably be chastising for even being considered. But why would you choose to scrape ice off the screen, when the car can melt it away for you? And what’s the point going from a warm house to a cold car, when you’ve got the option of technology taking the chill of it?
All the time technology improves and evolves, I’m all for it. Some systems might be too clever on occasion – lane departure warning, I’m looking at you! – but, on the whole, I say they should be embraced. Preferably from the comfort of a cosy Volvo driver’s seat, while gripping a hot steering wheel.
A few long journeys have made a bit of a dent in the previously impressive fuel economy of the XC60. I’m not complaining, but since settling into the FW editor’s chair, I’ve been out and about a bit more, which has meant covering various car launches all over the country. As such, a plug-in hybrid isn’t exactly the most suitable powertrain to use.
However, these longer trips did give me a chance to see how the Volvo’s four-cylinder T6 performs. Like most other elements of the car, it’s impressive. Smooth, quiet and with enough power when you need it. It’s partly ironic, I guess, that engine technology is at a real high at the moment – just at the point where it appears to be yesterday’s propulsion system.
There’s no denying that electric drivetrains are mightily impressive and entertaining with all that torque. But sometimes a blip of the throttle of an internal combustion engined-car can be equally exciting – or, failing that, just what’s required to keep you alert while travelling down a seemingly endless motorway.
Fortunately, the increased dependance on the 253hp, 2.0-litre engine didn’t coincide with the national fuel shortage and I was able to let all the fuss die down between fill-ups and was only inconvenienced by about five minutes while waiting for a pump. Not quite smugness to the point of the BEV driver, but two full ‘tanks’ was a very reassuring feeling!
Back on the short journeys and the Volvo has proved its worth as a workhorse in the past few weeks. A couple of trips to the recycling centre meant the vast majority of KR70 NEJ’s 468 litres of boot space were used to good effect. Meanwhile, a mass of decorations from a charity ball had to be transported back home – along with four adults – via a McDonald’s at 3am on a Sunday morning. Needless to say I’m not planning on making that part of the evaluation for every test car that arrives at Challen Towers!
On the road, the Volvo is pretty much faultless, so I’d like to spend this report talking about customer experience. Due to an unfortunate coming together with a drainpipe – it’s a long story, but I’ve held my hands up and apologised – the XC60 needed to go in for a bit of work last month. An appointment was made with the local main dealer. They set aside an hour for the repair, which meant I could turn up, wait while a new part was fitted and then be on my merry way.
However, things didn’t turn out like that – it’s another long story, with shared blame this time, not just my fault – so I had to make another appointment at a different retailer. This time, they told me they needed the car for a day and asked if I would like a courtesy car. I accepted the offer and just before handing over the key, I was told that if it wasn’t done today, I’d have to come back and pick the car up the next day. A phone call that afternoon confirmed that yes, the day scheduled for the repair wasn’t enough. In fact, the required part hadn’t even been collected from the aforementioned main dealer (25 miles away) and they wouldn’t have time to complete the job that day.
I accept that they are fixing my mistake and that I was fortunate to not be without a car. I even allow for the fact that these are difficult times with staffing levels and supply issues. However, how can an hour’s job turn into one that takes more than a day to get sorted?
Having previously run two Škoda estates back-to-back, when I was faced with the XC60, it felt huge. Fortunately, a drive back to the south coast from Fleet World HQ gave me the perfect opportunity to get used to it and make the realisation that I’d just not been used to driving SUVs. Or, let’s face it – given the various lockdowns – not driving much at all!
The Volvo is beautifully kitted out, the lovely cream interior is spacious and features comfortable seats and some clever storage solutions.
The plug-in hybrid setup is also a welcome addition. Electric-only range is around 20-25 miles, which suits my typically journeys almost perfectly. There have been just two trips to a fuel station, otherwise it’s been battery power all the way.
To be more specific, a typical week will see more than 90% of the miles done in electric mode. That’s according to the car’s smartphone-friendly On Call app, which provides a range of functions and helpful information.
Fortunately it also tells you when you’ve left the carunlocked – something I’m regularly guilty of when arriving home, it appears. Thankfully the car can also be locked with the touch of a button.
I could really do with a similar warning when leaving the charging flap open – another bad habit I’ve picked up…
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