While engine performance is sprightly, handling really isn’t in the same vein. This isn’t a driver’s SUV, but the handling can’t be called lazy either; relaxed is the best way to describe how this SUV drives, and this is reflective in any drive mode. The XC60 has a number of drive modes and what’s great is the sheer range of adjustments on offer; while engine performance, gearshifts and steering are altered, the XC60 also adjusts the ride height and brake characteristics.
All four drive modes offer varying ride heights: Dynamic is the lowest setting to aid handling, Eco is higher in a bid to strike a balance between good ride and aero performance, Comfort is higher still and offers better damping, while, naturally, Off-Road is the highest.
Volvo doesn’t expect the XC60 to do serious off-roading, and neither do most owners. We, however, did try it out over a few rough sections. Off-road ability is moderate, and the ride height and bits like hill descent will help traverse more serious stuff (we’ll find out at our annual off-road day).
The XC60 air suspension system offers great high-speed stability, and the car does a great job of masking speed; quite often, we found ourselves going faster than we actually thought. Also, the sharp edge normally associated with air springs isn’t as harsh, and body roll, while present, isn’t alarming. Low-speed ride quality, however, can get lumpy, and while road bumps don’t come jarring through, you do feel them. Comfort mode is pretty soft; in one particular instance, a crest, taken a little faster than usual, caused enough body lift for the safety system to kick in and tighten up our seat belts. We found Dynamic mode best for everyday use. Of course, you could go to the Individual setting and set-up the car exactly how you’d like it; most would probably find it perfect with the suspension left in Dynamic, and the rest of the car in Comfort.
Steering feel is nice and light at low speeds, and it also weights up as speeds increase. However, feedback isn’t pin-sharp and handling too is quite similar. This isn’t your sporty SUV by any standard, but you do get the feeling that Volvo wasn’t even trying to achieve this, preferring instead to focus on a comfortable and relaxed drive feel.
In case you’re wondering where in India would you use the various safety-related driving aids, you’re not alone. The systems require proper road markings to function but you’d be surprised when they do work; our testing on various highways showed that it can be relied on in certain instances. Pilot Assist is pretty unnerving but it does a good job of steering and keeping the car in its lane, Adaptive Cruise Control works a lot better and easily follows the car ahead, but, mind you, this only serves as an invitation for some Johnny-be-quick to cut into the space ahead of you, causing the XC60 to brake rapidly in a bid to maintain that safe distance.