By Mike Torpey on 2019-11-02 - 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 B4
THE second generation of Volvo's XC60 mid-size SUV arrived carrying a considerable burden of expectation.
Its predecessor was the biggest selling car in Europe - in its class at least - and the latest version has continued the good work, while extending the Swedish company's culture of safety.
Now Volvo is pushing ahead further through the arrival of two new engines that improve fuel economy and reduce tailpipe emissions.
Every XC60 is powered by a Volvo-developed and built 2.0-litre Drive-E powertrain, but the new B4 and B5 also benefit from the company's mild-hybrid technology.
They combine a 48-volt battery and a KERS kinetic energy recovery system to cut fuel consumption and improve driveability and response, especially at low speeds.
An integrated starter generator also provides faster, quieter restarting of the engine.
Mild hybrids differ from PHEVs - Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicles - in that they can't propel the car on electric power alone, acting more as a support act.
A prime example would be trying to move a laden supermarket trolley - it takes some effort to start it rolling but once underway you could keep it going with one finger.
And the mild hybrid in our tested B4 diesel, which has 197bhp as opposed to the B5's 235bhp, is a welcome addition to the line-up.
Agile, comfortable and well balanced, it is good for a potential 46 miles per gallon yet feels lively too.
Smart touches aimed at making the owner's life that bit easier, like the car's under-wrap doors which extend to the lowest part of the vehicle's body - overlapping the sills to ensure your clothing never gets dirty - are part of the package.
Included in the standard spec is the same technical wizardry that made such on impact on the company's 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.
Long renowned for its emphasis on safety, Volvo has something called Vision 2020 aimed at ensuring nobody is killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo car by 2020.
So safety features include Steer Assist, which automatically provides steering input in an emergency to help avoid potential collisions, 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 vehicles in your blind spot.
Volvo XC60 B4 R-Design AWD
Mechanical: 197bhp, 1,969cc 4cyl diesel engine driving four wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 127mph
0-62mph: 8.3 seconds
Combined MPG: 46.3
Insurance Group: 31
C02 emissions: 142g/km
Bik rating: 32%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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