Volvo XC60 DRIVe

Do green tweaks mean Volvo is world’s most eco-friendly SUV?

Overall Auto Express Rating

4.0 out of 5

Press on, and the XC60 DRIVe does reveal its front-wheel-drive roots. Plus, the set-up detracts from its abilities off the tarmac. However, it’s still safe and stable – and the benefits come in superb economy and low CO2 emissions. What’s surprising, though, is that Volvo has combined this with fine performance and pulling power from the smooth new motor.

It's a tough job, but Volvo’s new XC60 DRIVe is aiming to prove that even SUVs can help save the planet. The eco-focused model promises exceptional official economy of 47.1mpg – simply by using a front-drive chassis mated to a new diesel engine.

And the big surprise is that, on the road, what stands out is the performance, rather than the compromises demanded by the pursuit of low emissions.

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

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Producing 175bhp, the DRIVe’s 2.4-litre five-cylinder turbodiesel is a class act. It’s smooth and revs freely, with little vibration, and gives the car a 9.8-second 0-62mph time.

If you accelerate hard at low speeds, light torque steer means you can tell the SUV is front-wheel drive. But standard ESP and traction control stop the tyres from spinning. The driving experience is similar to that of the standard XC60. If you press on, the nose will still push wide, but the fine ride of regular models is carried over. The interior is well finished, too, and offers plenty of equipment, plus ample space for five.

While off-road ability is limited, Volvo says the raft of electronics, coupled with the raised body height, will ensure few cars encounter significant traction issues. It’s effortless at speed, and a particulate filter cuts dirty exhaust emissions. Engine friction has also been reduced, and a higher-pressure fuel injection system fitted.

The six-speed gearbox’s ratios have been altered, to help cut noise and improve economy. Otherwise, changes are reserved for the engine – so this model is hard to tell apart from the regular SUV. The sole visual difference is a DRIVe badge on the bootlid. Low-rolling-resistance tyres aren’t fitted as standard, although 18-inch rims are optional.

A Geartronic auto version won’t be offered, though – this would push emissions above 160g/km, which Volvo doesn’t allow on its DRIVe models.

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