By Mike Torpey on 2017-07-17 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Volvo XC60 so cool,
calm and connected
VOLVO'S new second generation XC60 mid-size SUV is a car carrying the weight of considerable expectation.
There's much to live up to when your predecessor is currently the biggest selling SUV, in its class at least, in Europe.
Now the Swedish brand has a completely new model that places even more focus on the company's culture of safety, carries the claim of having the finest connectivity system in the business and features an architecture designed around electrification.
When it hits UK streets in September the new XC60 will offer a choice of 2.0-litre 4-cylinder engines - D4 and D5 diesels plus a T5 petrol and later in the year a T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid - and Momentum, R-Design and Inscription trim grades.
Power ranges from 190 to 407bhp, CO2 emissions dip as low as 49g/km and all have all-wheel drive plus automatic transmission.
With its latest take on design Volvo has hit on a style that really works. We saw it in the new car's larger stablemate the XC90 and the 60 looks like a smaller version, and with five rather than seven seats.
Part and parcel of the package are smart touches aimed at making the owner's life that bit easier, like the car's under-wrap doors.
It means they extend down to the lowest part of the vehicle's body, overlapping the sills to ensure your clothing never gets dirty because the sills are always clean.
And included in the standard spec is the same tech wizardry that made such on impact on the S90, V90 and XC90 models.
Not only is the nine-inch touchscreen simple to use - operating more like a smartphone - but it also has voice activation, Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, a WiFi hotspot, various cloud-based apps and on Pro versions there's the Volvo On Call service.
That's all from within a wide cabin that's bathed in light, boasts high seating positions and a fresh, minimalist design that has heated leather upholstery and, on high-end models, some diamond-cut rotary controls and a hand-finished interior inspired by drifting wood on Sweden's west coast.
On the practical side there's plenty of stowage, including a hidden compartment, and a sensibly-shaped 505-litre boot that expands to 1,432 litres.
Safety has long been of paramount importance to Volvo, as cars are built on the accumulated knowledge of real life accidents - part of the company's Vision 2020 aimed at ensuring nobody is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.
And the XC60 heralds three technologies new to the mid-size SUV scene. Topping the list is Steer Assist, which automatically provides steering input in an emergency to help avoid potential collisions.
There's also something called Oncoming Lane Mitigation designed to prevent head-on collisions and an optional Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist.
The latter operates between 37 and 87mph and automatically applies the steering to bring the car back into its own lane and away from any vehicle's in your blind spot.
Pilot Assist, meanwhile, is seen as a stepping stone towards fully autonomous driving and is aimed at motorway driving.
At the press of a button it will help with the steering and take care of the throttle and brakes to keep you within your lane at a set speed up to 80mph.
You can keep to the desired cruising speed or stay at a set distance from any vehicle in front, accelerating or braking with the flow of traffic - right down to a standstill.
Each XC60 is powered by one of Volvo's 2.0-litre Drive-E engines, and while the 235bhp D5 diesel gets an extra boost via the PowerPulse compressed air injection set-up, it's the 190bhp D4 that's expected to take more than half of all sales.
These models start at £37,205 for a Momentum trim variant and will provide buyers with both a rewarding and economical driving experience as we discovered on a launch exercise through the challenging terrain of the Peak District as well as a fair stretch of motorway.
Comfortable, agile and well balanced, the D4 is good for a potential 55 miles per gallon yet feels lively too.
The T5 petrol, producing a hefty 254bhp, is more enjoyable with stronger acceleration of 0-62 mph in 6.8 seconds though the trade-off is less attractive fuel economy of an average 38.7mpg.
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