New Volvo XC60 B5 2020 review

The Volvo XC60 B5 mild-hybrid has plenty of appeal, but poor fuel economy means it’s far from the pick of the range

Overall Auto Express Rating

3.5 out of 5

Verdict

The Volvo XC60 still has appeal but this mild-hybrid version is far from the pick of the range, thanks to its poor fuel economy. We’d recommend you look at one of Volvo’s plug-in options – or take a brave pill in the current climate and investigate the B5 diesel mild-hybrid version instead.

Volvo has made so many headlines with its big stated goals on electrification that it’s easy to forget the Swedish firm is still only now really forging ahead with the policy across its range. We’ve yet to drive a pure-electric Volvo, for example, and there are still big gains to be made by offering different levels of hybrids across the line-up. Here’s a good example of this: the XC60 B5.

We tried a plug-in version of this car last year, but the B5 brings mild-hybrid technology that’s supposed to replace the bread-and-butter, combustion-engined editions of Volvo’s mid-sized family SUV. The badge is being offered on petrol and diesel models, and you can have it with front or four-wheel drive.

At the heart of the system is a starter/generator that uses 48V technology to harness electricity that would otherwise be wasted under braking, and then gives it back to the engine – petrol or diesel – during acceleration. The idea is that this energy helps the car to improve fuel economy, without the need to plug it in.

Of course, the downside of this is that there’s no way an XC60 B5 is going to complete your daily commute on electricity alone. To all intents and purposes it is designed to feel pretty much like a normal petrol or diesel car, albeit with slightly reduced fuel consumption.

Regardless of which B5 you choose, you get a 2.0-litre engine. In diesel terms, the badge means the more powerful of two units, with 232bhp on tap (there’s also a lesser motor that produces 194bhp, which is labelled B4).

The petrol car we’re testing here has 247bhp and 350Nm of torque – enough, in our four-wheel-drive example, to deliver 0-62mph in less than seven seconds and a top speed of 137mph. In practice it feels pretty punchy – comfortable, certainly, with the car’s 1,841kg kerbweight.

Its eight-speed automatic transmission works seamlessly with the hybrid tech to the point where you would really struggle to discern that there’s anything ‘hybrid’ going on at all. It’s focused on efficiency, naturally, so it’s very quick to shift up and keep the revs to a minimum. You may find that trait frustrating, given the motor’s relatively potent output, but in practice it means that the XC60 stays very refined in most situations.

This Volvo is happiest as a fast cruiser, of course; the XC60 still has a tendency to become unsettled by broken tarmac, with the occasional shimmy as the suspension reaches its limits and starts allowing imperfections to upset the ride. And long before body roll intervenes in cornering, you’ll have become frustrated with not only the gearbox’s cautious nature but also the inert steering set-up that delivers next to no involvement.

In truth, though, the XC60 B5 is not a car designed for B-road thrills. But it is harder to forgive its real-world fuel economy. The official WLTP worst/best range is between 31mpg and 36mpg but we struggled to break through the 30mpg mark during much of our mileage with the car; that’s a sign that even the 48V trickery cannot overcome the fact that this is a turbocharged petrol SUV – and a reasonably big one at that.

There’s little change to report inside, which means a generally pleasing mix of materials and finishes, really supportive seats, just about enough room for four adults to contemplate a long journey and a portrait-layout infotainment system that was once the class benchmark but which is now looking a little tired compared with higher-resolution set-ups in several rival models.

The boot, meanwhile, is a decent size and shape for most family uses, with 483 litres of capacity or 1,410 litres if you fold down the rear seats.

Model:Volvo XC60 B5 AWD R Design
Price:£43,235
Engine:2.0-litre 4cyl turbo petrol
Power/torque:247bhp/350Nm
Transmission:Eight-speed automatic, four-wheel drive 
0-62mph:6.5 seconds
Top speed:137mph
Economy:31.3-36.2mpg (WLTP)
CO2:165g/km (21-inch wheels)
On saleNow

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