New Volvo XC60 Recharge T6 R-Design 2021 review

Updates to the Volvo XC60 have fixed the pre-facelift model’s minor foibles, and have pushed the SUV’s cabin further ahead of the competition

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.5 out of 5

Verdict

Volvo has made the XC60 even better with this facelift. The T6 PHEV system still offers a good blend of power and economy, and the new voice-activated Google-powered infotainment system means you hardly ever need to take your eyes off the road. If you’re after a comfortable and stylish premium mid-size SUV with hybrid power, look no further.

When the first generation Volvo XC60 was launched back in 2009, it quickly became the brand’s best-selling car. The second-generation version came along in 2017 and continued that sales trend with an impressive mix of comfort, quality and safety technology, which for many surpassed most of its rivals from Germany and the UK.

So - how do you improve on a winning formula? That’s a question that this facelifted version of the XC60 has been tasked with answering. We think Volvo has pulled it off, though, as this latest spate of updates have made this SUV an even more polished product.

Prices for the updated XC60 start from £42,485 for the cheapest petrol-powered Momentum model, which is £1,505 more expensive than the pre-facelift model. But on list price, it’s still around £1,000 cheaper than the entry-level version of the also recently facelifted BMW X3.

Even though that seems like a lot, it’s actually reasonable value when you consider the amount of standard equipment. You get 18-inch alloy wheels, automatic LED headlights, a power-operated tailgate, all-round parking sensors, two-zone climate control and even a wireless smartphone charger – which Land Rover charges extra for on the Discovery Sport.

Our car was fitted with the T6 Recharge plug-in hybrid powertrain and trimmed in sporty R-Design specification, which adds a more aggressive bodykit, larger alloys sized 19-inches and sports seats. 

Volvo has opted for some conservative styling revisions for the XC60’s mid-life refresh, but they do make the car appear a little sharper than before. There’s a new front grille, a revised front bumper and some new alloy wheel designs. The old car’s exhaust tips are also now hidden behind a new lower valence. 

Inside, it’s much the same story. The XC60 still leads the way for interior design, with its cool Scandinavian cabin being complemented by a new vegan leather-trimmed steering wheel, a touch-sensitive control panel for the sunroof (if you tick that option box) and an updated version of the old car’s 12.3-inch digital instruments, which benefit from improved graphics.

However, the biggest change inside is a new Google-powered infotainment suite - Volvo has fully embraced the new Android Automotive operating system. It’s a big improvement over Volvo’s old in-house system, itself one of the industry’s better efforts. All of the XC60’s functions are still buried within submenus, but most of the routine stuff like the heated seats, navigation and radio controls can now be programmed using “Hey Google” voice commands. Volvo’s old navigation has been replaced directly with Google Maps, and as a result few premium SUVs have quite such an accomplished built-in navigation system. 

As this is Volvo, there’s also a bit more safety equipment. Every version of the XC60 now comes with a new rear autobrake function, which automatically applies the anchors if it thinks you’re about to reverse into a bollard or a parked vehicle. 

The powertrain of the XC60 T6 plug-in hybrid we drove mixes a 250bhp 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels with an 11.6kWh battery pack and an 86bhp electric motor powering the rear axle. It’s a bit more refined than the Audi Q5 50 TFSI e’s PHEV system, as the engine is a little quieter and it manages the shift between pure-electric and hybrid running a little more smoothly.

It’s got an impressive turn of speed, too. Volvo says the T6 powertrain will propel the XC60 from 0–62mph in just 5.9 seconds, which is about four tenths quicker than a Volkswagen Golf GTI. The electric motor also provides an instant 250Nm of torque on top of the petrol engine’s 350Nm output, meaning you’ve plenty in reserve if you need to overtake.

Providing you keep the battery topped up, Volvo says the SUV will return up to 113mpg but, in our experience, those figures won’t be easy to attain in the real world, and especially so once the battery is flat. There’s no real reason to not keep it charged, though, as it only takes about three hours with a 3.2kW AC feed and you get a maximum electric range of 32 miles, which is more than enough for the average UK commute.

The XC60 still isn’t the most engaging car to drive in its class, but that’s never been much of a problem. Instead, this SUV majors on comfort, so the suspension is softer than its German rivals. In terms of refinement, the standard SUV’s steel-sprung chassis will soak up pretty much anything UK roads can throw at it, although it does ride a little better with the optional air suspension.

The steering has just enough feedback to let you know where the front wheels are pointing and the four-wheel drive system means there’s plenty of grip, even in the wet. If you need a little more confidence when the weather gets difficult, you can also lock the powertrain in all-wheel drive mode through the infotainment system, which permanently activates the electric motor and makes a significant difference to the amount of grip on offer.

Model:

Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 AWD R-Design

Price:

£54,975

Engine:

2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol turbo with electric motor

Power/Torque:

335bhp/600Nm

Transmission:

Eight-speed automatic, all-wheel drive

0–62mph:

5.9 seconds

Top speed:

112mph

Economy:

100.9mpg

CO2:

64g/km

On sale:

Now

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