ROAD TEST REPORT AND REVIEW: VOLVO XC60 R-Design DRIVe
Boy band JLS team up with Volvo to promote its latest single. An unlikely combination? KEITH WARD explains all.
IS this a case of Volvo’s new Chinese owners chasing the youth market? The car brand traditionally (and sometimes unjustly) linked to the mature pipe and trilby brigade has teamed up with ex-X Factor boy band JLS in a pop video. It’s just released to promote the group’s latest single, “Do You Feel What I Feel?”.
And there’s a starring role for an XC60 in sporty R-Design trim and Ice White paint, similar to the subject of our test.
“It’s a great way of exposing our products to audiences who wouldn’t ordinarily see them”, says Volvo sponsorship chief Duncan Forrester.
Volvo was sold last year by Ford to Zhejiang Geely of China into an exploding young market. Already changes in appearance of the cars are being detected.
The R-Design trim is actually not quite top-priced of the versions available in the XC60 range. But enough to have you relaxing into the plumpness of the special logo-stamped, leather-faced sports seats, your hands twirling the leather-clad steering wheel, fingers gripping the leather gear knob and feet dabbing the special R-Design aluminium sports pedals.
There are also aluminium facings around the comfortable, roomy cabin, which exudes enough class to allow the XC60 to hobnob with such as the BMW X3, Audi Q5 and Land Rover Freelander.
The three-split rear seatbacks drop forward to extend a flat boot floor, which conceals a couple of storage areas below it.
What you don’t get is rear park assist, a miss in such a high vehicle, with the optional rear tinted glass on our car hampering rearward vision. Nor power aid for the weighty tailgate. Both are included in an optional extra £1,535 Convenience Pack. Rear park assist alone costs £385. I found the push-pull electronic parking brake awkward to use.
The test car carried on its boot Volvo’s DRIVe badge (say drive-ee), indicating the 2.0-litre D3 turbo diesel engine and six-speed manual gearbox had been “optimised” for low fuel consumption (an official 47.9 mpg) and low emissions (154 g/km qualifying for a £155 annual tax disc). And this from a bulky SUV weighing upwards of 1.7 tons.
In our week of varied motoring the mpg obtained, according to the onboard computer, was therefore disappointing at only 32.1. To be fair the car, a last-minute replacement, had only 201 miles on its clock when delivered, so was far from run-in.
Overall performance figures are decent. At 70 mph in sixth gear, the engine is pulling a relaxed 1,800 rpm, but it tended to grumble on setting off in second gear.
R-Design models get a stiffer, sporty chassis and a unique power steering system, which is direct and on the light side and requires a day’s practice to eliminate lurching. Our car was front-drive, but this D3 model is now available with 4WD, from £29,100.
(With their experience of Swedish winters, Volvo are newly offering UK drivers a set of four winter tyres from £495 plus £85 fitting, or alloy wheel and tyre packages from £1,200 a set, plus fitting. If you are short of garage space, Volvo dealers will store your summer wheels, for an extra £85).
Among Volvo’s customary array of safety features is City Safety, fitted as standard on the XC60, which automatically brakes the car if, distracted in slow-moving town traffic, you are in danger of running into the vehicle in front.
Volvo dealers report a big increase of over 60 per cent in the proportion of private motorists following the practice of business users and opting for contract hire with a predictable monthly payment rather than outright purchase.
Says Tony Grice, Volvo UK field manager: “We are seeing a mentality similar to that of paying a monthly rental for a phone and upgrading on a one or two year basis”. Young-people power at work again, perhaps.
Model: Volvo XC60 D3 R-Design DRIVe
Body: Crossover SUV five-door; five seats
Size: L 4,627 mm; W 1,891 mm; H 1,672 mm; boot 495/1,455 litres
Weight: Kerb 1,756 kg; tow max 1,600 kg; max payload 749 kg
Boot: Deck length 972 ext to 1,789 mm; width 1,130 mm; sill ht 748 mm
Engine: Diesel; 1,984 cc; 5-cyl; turbo; front wheel drive; 6-speed manual
Power: 163 bhp @ 2,900 rpm; max torque 295 lb ft @ 1,400-2,850 rpm
Pace: 125 mph; 0-60 in 9.7 secs
MPG: On test 32.1 mpg; official combined 47.9 mpg; tank 70 litres
CO2: 154 g/km; tax liability 22 %; annual road fund band G £155
Wheels: 18-inch alloys; 235/60 tyres
Insurance: Group 28
Warranty: 36 mths/60,000 miles incl full RAC cover
* To view the JLS video go to www.facebook.com/insidevolvouk