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Volvo XC60, S60 Drive-E review, test drive

4th Apr 2015 2:49 pm

The XC60 and S60 now come with Volvo’s latest-gen diesel engine and are all the better for it.

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What are they?

The XC60 and S60 may have been around for a while now but Volvo believes, and rightfully so, there’s still quite a bit of life in them; enough life, in fact, to warrant the fitment of new engines and gearboxes. Without going into the nuts and bolts, the new four-cylinder, 2.0-litre petrol and diesel engines are part of Volvo’s latest and modular Drive-E family and are each available in different power output versions. Volvo India may not have made much of a song and dance about the development but it’s been selling the XC60 and S60 with the 181bhp D4 version of the new diesel since July last year. And we’ve finally got our hands on the cars.  

But before we get to the new mechanicals and their impact on the driving experience, lets quickly run through all else on the duo. Well, sexy design remains a highlight on both the XC60 and S60 and they look even more special with the optional R-Design addenda on them. Things like the black grille, sportier bumpers, contrast mirrors, 18-inch wheels and dual exhausts really do take things up a notch. R-Design cars also get sporty all-black cabins and fabulously bolstered front seats that are easily among the best around. Both models do retain their well-finished original dashboards that remain unique for their floating centre consoles. There’s still too many buttons on the centre console but given that the voice-activated features on the infotainment systems don’t quite follow Indian accents, they are much needed. The good news is that the infotainment systems have been updated and now feature internet connectivity and access to various apps. As before, drivers will also like the option to choose between one of three themes for the all-digital instrument screens. As for space and comfort in the back, the S60 is on par with competitors while the XC60 continues to feel narrower than rivals.  

 

What are they like to drive?

The new engine is a big, big step up from the old (and now discontinued) 163bhp, 2.0-litre D4 diesel in just about every way. Where the old engine sounded gruff and loud, the new one feels a whole lot more refined right from the moment you press the starter button. There is a noticeable clatter at idle and the engine can sound a tad coarse when loaded up, but it’s no louder than BMW’s latest 2.0-litre diesel, for instance. In typical driving, though, the engine functions remarkably quietly because the new eight-speed gearbox is very evidently programmed to keep it spinning at its efficient best. That means low revs and minimal sound. At 100kph (in eighth gear), there’s little by way of engine noise to tell you, there’s a four-cylinder diesel powering the cars.

Performance sees an improvement too. The new Volvo engine isn’t exactly punchy or the quickest revving but what it does provide is good access to power across the rev range ­­– both engine and gearbox respond without delay to changes in throttle input. That said, the lighter S60 benefits more from the new engine and manages to feel light on its feet, even at highway speeds. We are yet to put the cars to the test but are convinced they’ll better the older D4s by a big margin. If there’s anything to bring up, it’s that gearshifts commanded by the paddles on all-out runs can be a bit jerky.  

Given that engine power is channelled solely to the front wheels on both cars, they are not as entertaining to drive as their rear-wheel-drive or rear wheel-biased competition. Still, the S60 follows line with ease and steering feel is reassuring enough. The XC60 does give the option to adjust steering weight but handling is never much more than safe and predictable. Just as well. Unfortunately, the XC60 does feel a bit stiff-kneed for our roads and not as settled as it should. Things are better in the S60 but the low profile tyres do keep you clued into irregularities on the road. But then those wheels are quite irresistible too.

 

Should I buy one?

Thanks to the new engine, both the XC60 and S60 have become far easier to recommend than before. They offer much in terms of refinement and performance now and yet hold on to other strengths in the striking designs, solid build and charming cabins. That Volvo is also ramping up its dealer and support network brings with it the promise of greater peace of mind when buying these cars. So, if you’ve been toying with the idea of buying a Volvo, there should be little to stop you now. Even otherwise, these Volvos have reached a point in their evolution where they genuinely deserve a long, hard look.

 

Volvo XC60  
                           
Price (in lakhs)*                                
Ex-showroom price       45.50-48.60 
 
Engine
Fuel                               Diesel
Type                              1984cc
Power                            181bhp @ 4250rpm
Torque                           40.78 kgm @ 1500-3000rpm
 
Transmission
Type                               8-speed auto   
             
Dimensions
Length                            4627mm
Width                              2120mm
Height                            1713mm
Wheel base                    2774mm
 
 
Volvo S60 Drive-E        
                  
Price (in lakhs)*                              
Ex-showroom price       34.40-37.25
   
Engine
Fuel                               Diesel
Type                              1984cc
Power                            181bhp @ 4250rpm
Torque                           40.78 kgm @ 1500-3000rpm
 
Transmission
Type                               8-speed auto    
             
Dimensions
Length                            4635mm
Width                              2097mm
Height                            1484mm
Wheel base                    2776mm
 

 

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