On paper, the stylish Volvo XC60 DRIVe has what it takes to topple its rivals here. With its blend of sleek looks, an efficient two-wheel-drive powertrain, classy image and attractive price, the high-riding crossover appears to hold all the aces. What’s more, it’s the largest car of our trio, so it should be the most practical. How does it stack up?
Despite being three years old, the XC60 still has plenty of kerb appeal. It doesn’t turn nearly as many heads as the Evoque, but the Volvo is a more eye-catching choice than the Audi. The car pictured is the racy R Design range-topper, which gets a sporty bodykit and 18-inch alloys. Yet even our entry-level ES test car had attractive 17-inch wheels and neat silver-finish roof rails.
Inside, the Volvo is equally smart. The robust dashboard is angled towards the driver, the chunky switchgear operates precisely and the high-up driving position gives a commanding view of the road. Yet the XC60’s interior can’t match the Range Rover’s for upmarket appeal, while the plastics don’t have the quality feel of those in the Q3. And while cruise control, air-con and a leather steering wheel are included, you have to pay £1,690 extra for leather trim and Bluetooth – both standard on the Evoque.
However, the Volvo leads the way for space. Rear passengers get much more room than in the other cars, while the wide back seat will comfortably fit three adults. There’s lots of useful storage and the boot takes 495 litres of luggage: 75 litres more than the Evoque.
The XC60 was also best on track. Thanks to its characterful 161bhp five-cylinder diesel, it needed 9.8 seconds for the 0-60mph test, while 50-70mph in sixth took 10 seconds: 3.2 seconds faster than the Audi managed.
Sadly, the Volvo isn’t as accomplished on the road. While its diesel engine performs quite well, its chassis lacks precision and composure. The heavy steering could do with more accuracy and feedback, there’s lots of body roll and the car runs out of grip sooner than its rivals. Adding to the Volvo’s woes is a stiff ride that causes it to crash over large bumps and potholes.
This is a shame, because it distracts from the XC60’s otherwise excellent comfort and refinement. There’s very little road or wind noise at speed, while the heated front seats are supremely supportive.
At £27,650, the Volvo is the least expensive of our contenders, undercutting the Evoque by £310. Yet its 149g/km CO2 emissions are the highest here, which makes it the most expensive company car choice. It also returned a disappointing 34.8mpg at the pumps and has the weakest residuals. On paper, the XC60 is strong, but in reality, it struggles to match its newer rivals.
Chart position: 3WHY: The Volvo is the old-timer in this line-up. But it still has the looks to compete at the top of the compact SUV class, plus this DRIVe model promises low CO2 emissions.