Drive – Volvo XC60 T5 Review

28 Jan 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on Drive – Volvo XC60 T5 Review

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Pros

Elegant design

Big on safety

Child-friendly booster seats

Energetic and robust engine

Cons

Big turning circle

Tall lip on boot

No full size spare wheel

Small amount of turbo lag from engine

Ok, here’s a challenge. I’m going to try to get through this Volvo XC60 T5 road test without mentioning boxy wagons.

Should not be too hard, considering the XC60 is the least boxy-looking wagon Volvo has built in ages. Bugger #8230;

Price and equipment

Priced from $54,990 plus on-road and dealer costs, the T5 is the entry point for the 10-model XC60 line-up of luxury soft-roaders.

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To hit that price, the T5 is front-wheel-drive only and powered by a new 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine. So, no all-wheel drive and no throbby five cylinder or curious transverse in-line six-cylinder engine here.

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The transmission is a dual-clutch six-speeder.

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While at the bottom of the XC60 pecking order, that does not mean the T5 is a poverty pack.

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Big-ticket items include leather upholstery, climate control, powered tailgate, an electric park brake and eight-speaker audio with auxiliary and USB inputs.

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Bluetooth with audio streaming is standard – as it should be. The spare tyre is a space saver – which it should not be.

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Volvo recently made a reversing camera standard across the XC60 range. It’s a good move because the car’s rising window lines make reversing a gamble.

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The headline safety act remains City Safety, which can anticipate a potential low-speed front-end collision and avoid or minimise it. Also standard are stability control, six airbags and a top five-star NCAP crash rating. Several driver aids including active cruise control are optional.

Under the bonnet

This is an almost identical engine to the one that will soon show up in the Ford Falcon and, judging by this experience, it’s going to be a happy marriage. With 177kW at 5500rpm and 320Nm of pulling power (torque) knocked out over a flat line from 1800rpm to 5000rpm, the GTDI (”gasoline turbo direct injection”) engine is yet another demonstration of why smaller displacement with low-boost turbocharging is taking over the automotive world.

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Despite a 1740-kilogram kerb weight, the GTDI engine, working through a six-speed dual-clutch transmission, combines civility and speed. It’s surprising just how energetic and robust it is. All that and a 10.5 litre per 100 kilometre fuel-use average on test for standard unleaded – versus a claimed 8.7L/100km average.

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The only time this new-age combination lost rhythm was at initial throttle tip-in, where it briefly lagged before getting going.

How it drives

This is the test Volvos so often fail. So nice standing still, yet so soft, squidgy and crude on Australia’s rough roads.

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But similar to other XC60s before it, the T5 surprises with the way its handling, ride and steering work together in a cohesive package. We are not saying it’s at Ford Territory levels but it’s respectable, predictable and – on the whole – comfortable.

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Going front-wheel drive introduces a little more torque steer and wheelspin to the package on tight corners and sacrifices a little surety on gravel. But the T5 is also lighter than the all-wheel-drive XC60s and feels it when negotiating a series of bends.

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That translates from country roads to city streets, where the XC60 fits comfortably – unlike many high-rise, er, estates. Its main issue is a 11.7-metre turning circle.

Comfort and practicality

Volvo does not always get the driving experience right and styling has been a bit too, ahem, square at times. But interior design, functionality, quality and materials have rarely come in for criticism.

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The XC60 T5 continues in that vein. Even as the entry-level model, the interior atmosphere seems far from cheap.

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The driver gets reach and rake-adjustable steering wheel (with audio and cruise controls) and a truly commodious powered (with memory) bucket seat that offers a plushness unrecognisable to any driver of German luxury cars. They would not recognise the lack of support, either.

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Instruments are simply and elegantly presented in clock-style dials with floating needles. The ”floating” centre stack is more sculptural than useful but the audio and air-con controls it contains are as simple to use as in any car today.

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The rear seats fit two adults comfortably and three at a squeeze. Children get a boost from pop-up cushions integrated into the bench.

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Fold the back seat down (it split-folds 40/20/40 and the headrests articulate forward) and the boot expands from an acceptable 490 litres to 1455 litres. You can fit a full-size mountain bike in there without removing the front wheel – once you have negotiated the tall entry height.

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Storage for smaller items is excellent throughout the cabin, from the sizeable glovebox, through the generous lidded centre bin to deep door pockets.

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