Volvo XC60 review - Engines, performance and drive
Performance is good, but the XC60 is more about relaxed progress than sporty handling – it’s what Volvo calls ‘inspired confidence’
The Volvo XC60’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform means it shares a lot of parts with the larger XC90 SUV, and both models also use the same set of four-cylinder engines. There are no six-cylinder versions of the XC60, with Volvo instead relying on hybrid power and big turbochargers to compete with larger-engined rivals for pace.
At the front, double wishbone suspension helps improve agility and comfort on the road, while the integral-link rear set-up with a transverse leaf spring helps to keep weight down and improve boot space. Volvo offers an Active Four-C Chassis system as standard on the Ultimate trim, which adds adaptive dampers and air suspension at the rear. This used to also be offered as a £1,500 option for all other trim levels, but this no longer appears to be the case following the simplification of the range at the start of 2022.
Bumpy British roads provided a tough test when we tried the air suspension, but the XC60 tackles this sort of tarmac with a reasonable level of composure.
In the suspension’s Comfort mode, the XC60 balances agility and comfort well. It’s not perfect, and on the R-Design model’s larger alloy wheels the Volvo can lose its composure when it hits a bump while cornering. But overall the car still plots a nice trajectory between involvement and ride comfort.
Car group tests
- Audi Q5 vs Volvo XC60 vs Hyundai Santa Fe: 2021 group test review
- Land Rover Discovery Sport vs BMW X3 vs Volvo XC60
- Audi Q5 TFSI e vs Volvo XC60 T8
- Volvo XC60 vs Lexus NX
Used car tests
Most of the time it floats over rough ground, with only the occasional harsh intrusion felt inside the cabin. This is helped no end by adaptive suspension, which features adjustable modes, although you don’t need anything more than the Comfort setting. In comparison, the BMW X3 and Jaguar F-Pace deliver sweeter handling, although the Volvo doesn’t do away with agility completely.
The steering is lighter in the Scandinavian SUV than its rivals, but it’s well weighted and it’s enough to give confidence in placing the car. It does lag behind its rivals a little when it comes to dynamic ability and enjoyment. However, in this class it’s not such an issue, because owners will be more interested in ride comfort; so it’s a shame that the XC60 feels a little harsher than the X3 on rougher roads.
Most XC60s come on steel springs which Volvo says will translate to a firmer ride. Visibility all around is good, making the car easy to drive around town, although myriad sensors and cameras are there to protect you.
The Volvo's steering isn't as fast or responsive as an Alfa Stelvio's, but the steering is light and nicely geared given the size and weight of the car, so the XC60 feels agile enough.
The B-badged models offer mild-hybrid technology and four-wheel drive is now standard across the range. 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 during acceleration. The idea is that this energy helps the car to improve fuel economy, without the need to plug it in.
Engines, 0-60 acceleration and top speed
Although it’s the diesels most people will go for, the T6 and T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrids grab the headlines with their impressive performance and economy claims – and sizeable company car tax savings.
The 194bhp B4 diesel model delivers a 0-62mph time of 8.3 seconds, while the 247bhp output of the B5 petrol version is good for a 6.9 second sprint time. If you wanted to move into hot hatch territory then the 296bhp B6 model could provide the answer, as it dispatches the same dash in a little over six seconds, but it has now been discontinued.
Volvo's 'Recharge' lineup of plug-in hybrids includes the 345bhp T6 and the 449bhp T8 models, with both capable of reaching 0-62mph in 5.7 and 4.9 seconds respectively.
In this review
- 1Volvo XC60 reviewThe Volvo XC60 offers style, luxury, lots of advanced tech and is one of the best premium SUVs
- 2Engines, performance and drive - currently readingPerformance is good, but the XC60 is more about relaxed progress than sporty handling – it’s what Volvo calls ‘inspired confidence’
- 3MPG, CO2 and Running CostsDiesels are more frugal on longer journeys, but greener T6 and T8 plug-in models offer big company car tax savings
- 4Interior, design and technologyAnother stunning Volvo interior that’s well-made, looks great and is dominated by a fantastic 9-inch touchscreen
- 5Practicality, comfort and boot spacePlenty of space for all the family – the XC60 will be an easy and comfortable car to live with
- 6Reliability and SafetyThe XC60 features great safety kit, while Volvo performed strongly in our Driver Power customer satisfaction survey