Hybrid Volvo a

safety tour de force

Volvo XC60, front
Volvo XC60, side
Volvo XC60, front
Volvo XC60, front
Volvo XC60, front
Volvo XC60, rear
Volvo XC60, rear
Volvo XC60, interior
Volvo XC60, boot
Volvo XC60 T8, drive mode display
Volvo XC60 T8, charging
Volvo XC60 T8, badge

OVER the past couple of years, the excellent Volvo XC60 has won just about every accolade going, including UK Car of the Year and World Car of the Year.

It was designed to be one of the safest cars in the world and comes with a vast array of devices and designs to ensure that.

The company is aiming for a seemingly unlikely but laudable target that no-one in the world will die through accidents in any of its cars within four or five years.

And as part of that, every model in the range - including the XC60 - will have a top speed limited to 112 miles an hour (180km/h) from next year. A brave move, but one that is likely to imposed by legislation eventually for all vehicles.

I took the T8 petrol/electric hybrid XC60 down to Cornwall on a 400 mile long trip and came back hugely impressed.

Volvo's high levels of luxury and cosseting comfort now set it apart from erstwhile competitors in the ‘premium' class, and I think elevate it into the luxury class above.

Just sitting into the tan leather interior gives a sense of occasion right up there with Jaguar and Mercedes models.

And the marvellous comfort and fantastic refinement of the whole car on that Cornish trip put it right at the top of the medium to large SUV class for me. It fully deserves all the accolades it has won.

On that journey using motorways and normal roads, it was a marvellous companion. The 2.0-litre turbo engine drives the front wheels while the 150bhp electric motor drives the rears and the whole works smoothly and quietly.

But plant the right foot on the accelerator and it heads for the horizon at a huge rate of knots. Such reserves of power are rarely needed, but it's good to have them now and again.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox takes care of the changes seamlessly and always seems to find the right gear, kicking down reasonably quickly when needed.

There are six selectable drive modes - constant all wheel drive for slippery conditions on the road, pure eco using mainly the electric motor, hybrid everyday - where I left it most of the time - individual for selectable personal settings, power for a more sporting drive and off-road for rough ground use.

The eco setting is fine with a charged battery and I also tried the sport setting, which gives a feeling of increased power, higher gearchange points and stiffens up the suspension.

But most owners are likely to stick to hybrid or eco I would think and possibly use the B setting on the gear selector, which gives more battery regeneration under braking to help keep it charged.

For such a large vehicle, the handling is excellent, with well controlled body movement even when it's not in the sport setting.

The steering is a little lacking in cornering feel in everyday settings, but the high driving position and good turning circle make the car easy to manoeuvre in tight spaces.

Where this one really scores is in its level of comfort as I said, and that is truly superb. It simply rolls over everything in its path, and takes speed humps with uncanny ease.

Of course, the level of equipment is excellent, with all the things that you would expect in a £59,000 car.

So here I'll concentrate on the built-in safety that helped it to one of the highest ever scores when it was tested by NCAP.

It has seven airbags, stability control, and blind spot warning and lane keeping assistance - both of which can automatically affect the steering, helping you to stay out of trouble.

It also has the company's city safety suite, with autonomous emergency braking that recognises other vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals in the car's path.

There is steer assist, which helps drivers with quick avoidance manoeuvres, oncoming lane mitigation to guide the car back onto the right side of the road should it be allowed to wander, or to guide you away from the verge if you stray the other way.

Should the car still go off the tarmac, run-off road protection kicks in to reduce the severity of the accident.

FAST FACTS

Price:£59,000

Mechanical:401bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl petrol engine plus electric motor driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:143mph

0-62mph: 5.5 seconds

Combined MPG: 134

Insurance Group: 42

C02 emissions: 49g/km

Bik rating: 16%

Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles

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