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Old 18th January 2011, 23:25   #1
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Default 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

The Volvo XC60 has been launched in India at a price of 39.50 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:
  • A modern, good looking Volvo
  • Premium build quality, inside and out
  • Twin-turbo diesel offers decent performance
  • Loaded with equipment (DVD screens, power tail gate, memory seats etc.)
  • 5 star safety. Endless list of electronic aids
What you won’t:
  • Lacks the badge value of its competitors
  • Limited rear seat space, a limo it is not
  • Engine refinement levels don't meet segment benchmarks
  • Wafer-thin dealer network
  • No extended warranty or service package options
NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.
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Old 18th January 2011, 23:37   #2
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Volvo as a brand in India is synonymous with trucks and buses. It can be confusing when we talk of a car with the same badging, but coming from a completely different company. Yes, Volvo cars & Volvo trucks are now two entirely independent organisations. Those who know don't need an introduction: pre-bookings were sold out in the 7 or so dealerships.

Volvo Auto India has been at it for the last 3 years setting up their own Sales and Service network, and are banking on Volvo’s traditional core values to establish themselves. Even then, the company has a long way to go, and knows it has to have a product range that can differentiate. On the marketing front too, they need to make a step forward. Unlike the big boys from Germany (Mercedes, BMW and Audi) who have a distinct presence in the daily papers, Volvo doesn't seem to be seen. Except for a couple of full page advertisements, and the XC90's appearance in "3 idiots", the brand just doesn't have the visibility enjoyed by other premium Europeans. For that matter, when was the last time you saw a Volvo sedan or SUV on the road?

Appearances can be misleading, especially in photos without any size reference. In pictures, the XC60 looks more like a coquettish cross-over. In flesh, it is all muscle and sinew. I have driven Volvo cars since the 80s – staid, squat, rectangular family vehicles with few embellishments. The XC60 is a complete departure from those; it is more like the modern conception of a fit slim person who jogs twice a day. The only way to tell it is a Volvo is the radiator grill, tail-lamps and perhaps, the hip section that all Volvos share now.

The XC60 looks like the younger sinewy sibling of the beefy XC90. It is based on the S80 sedan platform (the same Ford EUCD platform as the Land Rover Freelander). The wheelbase, at 2774 mm, is a tad smaller than that of the Mitsubishi Montero, BMW X3 and Audi Q5. The waistline tapers substantially from the rear to the front, giving it the look of a perfect wedge. The narrow snout still looks proportional with the clear lamps. Unlike the XC90, the roofline is much lower, giving the XC60 a high-waisted look especially in the rear half.

The XC60 is built in Belgium and exported as a CBU (completely-built-unit) to India.

All rear glasses are tinted from the factory itself (à la American SUVs):

Fit & finish are superb:

Keyless entry button is now mandatory in any vehicle with pretences to modernity:

Side-step that looks like a piano keyboard!!!

Different alloys. One a typical 6-spoke design (almost all Volvo cars in Scandinavia have that)...

And the other, an elegant grey-and-silver design (me like this one):

Good design practices reflect in the build quality. For example, wires and cables going to the door terminate at a plug, which connects to a socket on the door!

Oh looky, even the rear quarter glasses are heated!

Clean underbody:

Even though at 230mm the ground clearance seems a tad low, it tackled rather rough uneven terrain quite competently. Serious off-roading? With a 2774mm wheelbase - may be not!
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Old 18th January 2011, 23:42   #3
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

The XC60's interiors are dual-tone, and you can choose from different colour combinations at the time of booking. While not overtly plush, the interiors are by no means spartan either. Function takes over form here, and at the same time, they do feel durable. The centre console is well finished and tilts toward the driver. The ergonomics are spot-on, with all controls within reach of the driver. The many buttons feel premium, but are excessive and make for a cluttered look. The steering wheel is meaty and feels great to hold. The horn pad is mounted on the centre of the steering and is a tad difficult to reach, especially since ours is a honk-friendly nation. The instrument stalks have quite a unique design. They are slightly curved, and have rotating drums to control the displays (and some other functions). The instrument cluster has dials with a silver finish; not very fancy to look at, yet they do the job.

The front seats are well sculpted and high on support. Head and shoulder room are adequate. Either front seat has manually adjustable lumbar support knobs and 8-way electrical adjusters. The driver's seat has 3 memory settings, so even if the valet driver adjusts it to his needs, pressing your memory button brings the seat back to how you like it. Legroom at the rear, however, isn't what you would expect of a 40 lakh rupee vehicle. Things can get uncomfortable behind a tall driver. To improve visibility, and reduce the feeling of claustrophobia, the rear seat is positioned higher than the front. Nevertheless, the XC60 is better as a 4 passenger vehicle than 5.

The air conditioner on the Volvo chills well throughout the cabin. The dual-zone controls up at the front allow the driver & co-passenger to set their own temperatures. Rear passengers get their share of cool air via air vents situated on the B Pillars. But there are no center air-con vents at the back. Nifty touch : The AC can be set to automatically switch between recirculation and fresh air modes.

Panoramic sunroof is standard. Large enough for 2 people to stand comfortably and take pictures. This is one car to enjoy the outdoors with:

Doors open wide. Ingress & egress easy:

The front seats. Funky dual-tone upholstery:

Push the key into the slot. Press brake, push start button and you're ready to go:

Navigation system is detailed and accurate. The maps are up to date too:

The reversing camera is crystal clear. Activates automatically when you engage the reverse gear:

The centre console. Slightly angled toward the driver:

Gear lever feels nice to hold:

Handbrake is a little electronic flap. Push to activate, pull to disengage (only if your foot is on the brake pedal):

Deep glovebox is illuminated. Notice the pocket to keep documents, as well as the pen holders:

Space at the back isn't satisfactory:

Fold out cup-holders from the rear center armrest:

Rear air-con vents placed on the B Pillar:

Entertainment / DVD screens for the kids!

Button to automatically close rear tailgate. Closing action is in "slow motion":

Standard boot space is 495 liters. The XC60's rear seat splits into a 40:20:40 ratio:

With the rear seat completely folded away, boot space goes up to 1,455 liters:
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Old 18th January 2011, 23:46   #4
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

In some parts of the world, the XC60 comes with a 3.0 liter inline 6-cylinder petrol. Indians prefer oil-burning SUVs, hence we only get the 2.4 liter 5 cylinder twin-turbo diesel (that also does duty in the XC90). While the XC90 is tuned to 185 BHP, the XC60 puts out 205 BHP (@ 4,000 rpm). The XC60 at 420 Nm of torque (starting @ 1,500 rpm) has 20 Nm more than the XC90 too. Start driving and the first thing you notice is the gruff sound as the rpm needle climbs. Surprisingly, this 5 cylinder diesel is not as refined as its German counterparts. Engine noise is rather audible in the cabin. The 2.4 diesel feels tractable enough in the low to mid-rpm ranges, and will make light work of your daily driving route. Keep the accelerator pedal buried and the XC60 will complete a sub-10 second dash to the 100. In-city driveability is decent, and the engine is well suited to expressway cruising as well. However, and again, the motor gets fairly audible and doesn't seem too happy at higher rpms. It's more suited to a sedate driving style than an enthusiast's. The 6-speed automatic gearbox has smooth up / down shift quality. But the response time in kick-down mode leaves a lot to be desired. There is a noticeable delay, and you can feel a lag before the car suddenly surges forward.

The XC60 is equipped with Volvo's 4C feature (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept). There are three suspension modes to choose from; Comfort, Sport and Advanced. You will prefer to do most of your driving in comfort suspension mode itself, where the ride quality is decidedly better. Though there is still an underlying firmness to the XC60 at city speeds, and the ride cannot be termed as plush, it is fairly acceptable. As the speedometer climbs, and like most other European cars, ride quality greatly improves. However, body roll is high in comfort mode and thus, when on the highway, you will inevitably switch over to Sport mode. The difference in ride and handling is immediately noticed. The ride further stiffens up (to the point of being too firm for city driving) and body roll is now far better controlled. In sport mode, the handling is very composed & grip levels solid. It corners almost flat! DSTC – a type of Stability Control program - continually monitors the car's direction, roll rate, steering wheel movements as well as the actual rotation of the car’s wheels to detect a potential skid, and helps counteract by reducing the engine’s output, or braking on one or more wheels. With the level of electronic assistance and the AWD system, you can have some fun throwing it around on snaky roads and ghat sections. Don't expect a Euro-sedan like driving experience though; the XC60 simply doesn't feel as "connected". High speed stability is excellent and the XC60 feels unshakable even at 200 kph. The steering weighs up nicely at speed too. However, within the city, you will find the steering to be on the firmer side (it isn't a super light unit like in the Mercs). Full marks to the braking capability. Even under emergency braking conditions, the XC60 is rock solid. The pedal itself feels a tad mushy and is lacking in feel.

The soft-track that Volvo had made in Lavasa offered some feel of its off-road capabilities. There were two amusing situations during the off-road test:

- A camel-test setup to gauge chassis torsion & suspension - built to army truck testing proportions - bottomed out the XC60's suspension.

- Someone, who broke the tenet "keep constant pressure on gas pedal while going through mud" and stopped for some reason, promptly spun the wheels and sank in an attempt to power himself out of the situation.

Hill Descent Control takes the vehicle at gentle speed down a hill, without pressing the accelerator or brake pedals. When going uphill, it holds position (need not press the brake) till you accelerate. HDC works in both, forward as well as reverse gears:

City Safety is a very unique feature. At speeds up to 50 km/h, this laser-based technology can sense if a vehicle within 6-8 meters ahead, is at standstill or moving much slower than you are. If City Safety senses an impending collision, the brakes are pre-charged to act faster on the driver’s response. If the driver fails to brake, City Safety automatically applies the brakes (and how; one gets jolted awake by the jerk when the seat belt pulls) and switches off the throttle to help avoid a collision. City Safety is automatically activated when the car is started. It might seem like a useless feature for drivers who actually pay attention, but in today's day and age when most people are texting or BBMing in traffic, you never know.

The Collision Warning With Auto Braking (CWAB) Digital camera mounted behind the rear view mirror monitors the distance between you and the vehicle in front. If the system feels that you are getting too close to the car in front, a red warning light flashes on the windscreen. Tried it a couple of times myself and can confirm that it works like a charm. If you don't react to the warning and a collision is imminent, the brakes will activate automatically.

The windshield-mounted sensor & camera cluster also feed the "Lane Departure Warning system". It senses drifting to another lane if the turn signal is not on, and warns sleepy drivers:
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Old 18th January 2011, 23:51   #5
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Other points:
  • Thanks to Dippy for the additional points & pictures
  • 2 year / 60,000 kms warranty with all services included
  • The mirrors fold automatically when the car is switched off. If you want to do it manually, press the left & right mirror selection buttons together, and the mirrors will fold
  • When the doors are locked, you have to pull the inside door handle twice to get out of the car. Once to unlock and once to open
  • Rear window is fairly narrow, so rearward visibility is not great (toward the sides)
  • The ORVMs bend downward when you slot into reverse, but they point so low that its difficult to see what’s right behind you. This is a negative considering visibility through the rear glass is not great
  • Volvo has received Euro NCAP Advanced, an assessment rating for new and exceptional safety technology. The City Safety feature was first presented in 2008
  • The XC60 has a 5 star rating for safety from NCAP
  • Active Bending Light (ABL) Headlamps turn with the steering. A very useful safety feature for night driving. Headlights turn up to 15 degrees in either direction
  • The horn has a very soft, polite European tone that seems to say "Would you please not cut me off?"! In India, it needs to be replaced with a more robust "Ae Ae baaju hat" type that would register in the minds of horn-insensitive populace
  • Fuel tank swallows 70 liters of diesel
  • Currently, Volvo has only 7 dealers across the country
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Old 18th January 2011, 23:54   #6
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

The Smaller Yet Significant Things:

Lots of stowage space inside the front arm-rest (the wife would love it as she doesn't like things scattered around):

Boot cover to keep your valuables safe from prying eyes:

This is something one wishes in every car; prominent instructions on changing a flat tyre:

Handy clip on the windscreen to hold those toll tickets:

AUX and USB provision inside the front center arm rest:

Extra cubby hole behind the centre console. Very unique:

Manually adjustable lumbar support for both front seats:

Lockable wheel nuts to prevent your alloys from getting stolen:

Additional storage space below the main boot area:

Space saver spare tyre in the boot:

Dot matrix display (for the audio) looks very dated:

Steering mounted audio & phone controls:

High quality stalks. Can also scroll through the MID:

Controls for the DVD screens at the back:

Driver's memory seat:
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Old 19th January 2011, 00:17   #7
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

In Car Entertainment:

The OE system in the XC60 is no slouch, sounding way better than what one expects of OE systems. There are components both front and rear, the only difference being the front tweeters are on the inner side of the ORVM pod, and the rear ones are mounted close to the mid-bass low down on the door.

I have seen XC70s and XC90s in Sweden sporting DLS speakers as OE fitment, including what sounded like a small sub probably hidden in the dash. Possibly they come as an option pack there. However, there is not much by way of options in the XC60 here.

The sound is quite pleasantly neutral, as is to be expected in Volvo cars. It has enough mid-bass punch to keep most people happy. And, it went loud enough without distorting that I started searching for a separate amp! Cabin NVH is very good, and that adds to a very good listening experience.

iPod / iPhone interfacing is standard, as is Bluetooth. Controls are steering wheel mounted, and quite intuitive to use. Large LCD screens should keep the kids happy and occupied.
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Old 19th January 2011, 01:04   #8
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Nice review. And Volvo really needs to up their marketing and brand value. True that they rarely advertise but never expected BHPians to show almost nil interest in this thread. I mean they manufacture really great cars and we are enthusiasts.

I have always admired their S80. Had stayed in The Orient Club on marine drive and there was this one person who had purchased a shop to park his S80.. Volvo cars are bought by people who really appreciate and know what awesome vehicles they are. Owning a Volvo car is on top of my wishlist.

I had once even mentioned it to a person who was considering an E Class that it is next to impossible to even get scratched in this Tank. Dunno if that statement holds any weight-age but that is what I have heard about Volvo cars.

Anyway. This one is indeed a very nice review.

Edit:- Didnt know that the thread is so new. It remains to be seen whether this thread will attract a lot of attention or not. Though have seen other threads fill up 2 pages in mins.

Last edited by psbali : 19th January 2011 at 01:08. Reason: General.
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Old 19th January 2011, 01:48   #9
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review and thanks for bringing this up.

Volvo cars are build to last and I am sure this one follows the same syndrome, Volvo needs to ramp up their dealership if they are serious about Indian market. With 7 dealers they cannot bring up any good numbers.

Few questions:-
1. What is the OTR price
2. What was the fuel consumption while doing test drive??

Few close shots of centrally mounted button would be much appreciated.
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Old 19th January 2011, 09:33   #10
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Awesome review, DA. Volvo should now focus on exponentially increasing its footprint to support its capable products.
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Old 19th January 2011, 09:41   #11
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Good Wednesday morning surprise, rated 5 star. I love those LED taillights but tardy dealers plus poor brand image and bad resale will limit its potential. Hope that the "Chinese connection" does not dent image any further. BTW how is the market response to the XC 60?
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Old 19th January 2011, 09:44   #12
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Thanks for the well detailed review DerAlte. It is true that cars from Volvo are quite underrated.

Some more questions to add:
1) What are the other safety features on the XC60, and more importantly are they relevant to our dense and often haphazard traffic conditions.
2) When does the city safety feature actually intervene, i.e. at what distance. Are there any audio/visual warnings before the system intervenes.
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Old 19th January 2011, 09:46   #13
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Originally Posted by camchennai View Post
Excellent review and thanks for bringing this up.

Volvo cars are build to last and I am sure this one follows the same syndrome, Volvo needs to ramp up their dealership if they are serious about Indian market. With 7 dealers they cannot bring up any good numbers..
+1. True. Considering Volvo's core value to be safety one cannot expect anything less.
Understand once you have driven one you would not settle for anything else. Have known guys in Germany have switched from BMW's to Volvo and keep raving of the comfort level in Volvo's.

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Old 19th January 2011, 10:57   #14
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Great review. Good to see Volvo hasnt skimped on any features. Overall it seems like a great car. Now lets see what they do with the S60.
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Old 19th January 2011, 11:42   #15
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Default re: 2011 Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review

Great review, Der Alte! Meeting you in Lavasa was an added bonus. Rating the thread a well-deserved 5 stars.

After a drive in the XC60, someone down my place asked me how the SUV is. My reply "It's 50 lakhs on the road. Better be good". And that's really the key point here. The fit, finish and build are top class. Available equipment levels are amongst the best, and the SUV looks awesome for a Volvo (compared to their previous boring slab-sided cars). Volvo says this is the safest vehicle they have built yet. The pricing is bang on too.

However, the brand is all but absent in the heads of its potential target segment. And no, it lacks the aspirational badge value of its competitors too. Other annoyances in the engine refinement area, slow responding slushbox & lack of rear seat space remain, but then, the lack of badge value will be the biggest deal breaker for Volvo. This is an area where they have to work the hardest.
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