Volvo XC60 T5 R-Design

28 Jan, 2011 3:47pm Paul Bond

Volvo's classy compact XC60 SUV now comes with a powerful turbocharged 2.0-litre engine, and dual-clutch gearbox - we get behind the wheel to try them out.


It’s easy to see why the XC60 is one of Volvo’s most popular models. This powerful new T5 version is a big step forward over the outgoing car, and blends strong performance with much better economy and emissions. However, it’s likely to remain a niche choice. Most customers will still opt for a diesel-engined variant, which is more suited to the compact SUV’s soft ride and sensible family appeal.
Sensible yet sporty, desirable yet practical... the Volvo XC60 attempts to cater for your every need. Up to now, it has struggled to live up to that promise, so can a powerful new engine help it fight off rivals from Audi and BMW?

The new T5 R-Design certainly looks the part. The styling draws together the best bits from across the Volvo line-up, seamlessly blending the muscular shape of the XC90 with the latest S60’s sleek nose. The LED lights front and rear and smart 18-inch alloys are particularly pleasing touches. 

Video: watch CarBuyer's video review of the Volvo XC60

Inside, the trademark floating centre console curves towards the driver, and details such as the aluminium door inserts and two-tone dials help it stand out. Build quality is strong as well, although it’s not class leading.

Under the bonnet is a new 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine, sourced from Ford. Despite being smaller than the unit it replaces, it provides strong performance – taking the XC60 from 0-60mph in 7.6 seconds. 

It doesn’t offer the characterful soundtrack of the five-cylinder it replaces, but customers will have few complaints about the lower running costs. As the T5 emits 198g/km, first year showroom tax is slashed by £125 to £425. 

Paired with the dual-clutch auto, the 2.0-litre is a quiet and comfortable cruiser. Increase the pace, though, and cracks soon start to appear in the package. While initial body control is good, the steering is numb. The handling is set up to be safe rather than thrilling, and doesn’t enable you to exploit the engine’s full potential.

As you’d expect from a Volvo, safety kit is class leading. This includes a camera which detects imminent collisions in city traffic, and warns the driver. The XC60 is practical, too, with the flexible seat folding mechanism giving scope to increase the generous 455-litre boot capacity and carry awkward luggage.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to see why buyers who are looking for a sporty SUV would opt for this over the D5 diesel version, which is nearly as fast but more economical.

Rival: Audi Q5 2.0 TFSI
Desirable SUV comes with a 208bhp 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol powerplant, allowing it to do 0-62mph in 7.2 seconds and return 32.8mpg. In sporty S Line trim it costs only £660 more.

Key specs

* Price: £34,775
* Engine: 2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
* Transmission: Six-speed automatic, four-wheel drive
* Power/torque: 237bhp/320Nm 
* 0-60mph: 7.6 seconds
* Top speed: 130mph
* Economy/CO2: 33.2mpg/198g/km
* Standard equipment: Climate and cruise control, 18-inch alloys, leather trim, sat-nav, ESP stability control, Bluetooth, auto headlights 
* On sale: Now