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The Swedish assault, we take on the Volvo XC60 D5 Inscription.

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By: Charles Molefe

I recently spent a week with a product from the Volvo Cars South Africa stable, particularly the XC60 D5, this is a vehicle that battles the likes of the Audi Q5 and BMW X3, in all honesty, it has the cards stacked up against it and its competitors are formidable opponents. As much as this segment is easily dominated by the Bavarian stable, the Swedes have produced an extremely capable product that can dislodge the famed brand loyalty that plagues the South African market.

The premium SUV segment is and will remain highly contested for reasons disliked by sedan and hatch lovers. As you may have noticed a host of manufacturers are slowly swaying away from the much-loved sedan/saloon-style cars. This is due to the perceived “benefits” SUVs have, the elevated driving position, the fictitious sense of safety, and the mythical sense of arriving.

Pilot assist.

The XC60 is brimmed to the hilt with technology, ranging from semi-autonomous steering, adaptive cruise control, and air suspension. The greatest experience in the XC60 is the Pilot Assist feature, this system takes control of the steering wheel and pilots the vehicle in between the lane markings without any human intervention, my experiences with other brands are far from satisfactory, their systems bounce you from lane marker to the other and at times have you feeling like you’ve had a few too many at the pub.

Volvo’s implementation of this technology is simply astonishing, the XC60 is able to navigate a series of corners, WITHOUT HUMAN INTERVENTION, I took the chance to test this tech around the tight and twisty Van Reenen’s Pass, the Volvo did not disappoint. Tied with the adaptive cruise control driving the XC60 is nothing but a dream, this experience made me wonder why we praise other manufacturers for their mediocrity.

Intellisafe Assist

Volvo prides itself in being one of the safest vehicle manufacturers out there, they have conducted numerous tests that signify their superiority in the safety spheres. For example, the adaptive cruise control will keep you at a pre-selected distance from the car in front of you, what is even more amazing is the fact that this can be activated at up to speeds of 200 km/h.

Intelligent LED headlights

Numerous car manufacturers have implemented their own way of lighting up the road, some introducing pioneering technology that ensures that night driving is not a challenge. Volvo has taken a path travelled by most, nonetheless, their implementation is still class-leading, the intelligent LED headlights are a feature to marvel, not only are they directional, but the light beam intensity can also be automatically increased or decreased based on the illumination of the road. The system also manages to block out certain parts of the beam to avoid dazzling oncoming traffic.

Aesthetics

The XC60 manages to ooze a lot of presence, its stature provides the unintentional ordinary man to stand out, it bears bold lines and is clinically sculpted unlike any of its competitors, not everybody will agree with my opinion here, however, there are a couple of people who tried hard not to stare but eventually gave up as they were drawn to the XC60’s subtle beauty.

You would think that stepping into the cabin is where the fun ends, but that is far from the truth. The seats are a mixture of sporty and comfortable and have received several applause from fellow colleagues the world over, this boils down to the fact that the seats were designed by orthopaedic surgeons and the surprises don’t end there, they are heated and cooled which provides a refreshing taste on extensive trips.

Infotainment system

The test mule came equipped with an unfamiliar portrait-scaled 9-inch screen that hosts a plethora of functionalities. Satnav, safety systems, and telephony is controlled from the high-definition screen. One of the most impressive aspects of this screen is the ease of use and response, your navigation across the various screens is simple, informative, and clearly marked.

The optional Harmon Kardon sound system punches way above its weight, the system rivals and supersedes the best in the business and is a clear winner. The audio produced from the 16 speakers is beyond measure, I have never in my tenure of testing vehicles experienced such an immersive sound. It doesn’t matter which genre you are listening to, the audio is just perfect in every way. Several passengers who were fortunate to experience the XC60 were blown away at how the acoustics are well sorted in the Volvo.

To show off, Volvo has integrated an OTA Spotify app that pairs up to your account and provides up to 328kbps of pure audible bliss, once again, this is an experience that will rival a night at the proms, with the added benefit of ultimate luxury.

Performance

The XC60 on test is powered by an efficient 2.0L 4-cylinder engine that produces 173kW and 480Nm of torque, as traditional diesel engines go, torque is available in bucket loads, irrespective of the gear you are in. Never at any point will the XC60 not show up to any challenge, nonetheless, the D5 is not all about the dash to the quarter-mile sprint, it’s more aligned to rise up to the occasion and continue to thunder on without hesitation.

Volvo claims a sprint to the hallowed 100 km/h in a hot hatch competing 7.7 seconds and will top out at a speed of 220 km/h. These figures may not make your heart skip a beat or pull your hair back, but once again this is a vehicle that is geared to accentuate its comfort and prowess at covering long distances.

During my test tenure, I took a trip to the scenic land of KwaZulu Natal to explore the claimed fuel consumption figures of the XC60, to my surprise, it took less than half of the brimmed 71-litre tank to get to Durban and roughly another half on the return leg, do bear in mind that I was behaving and avoided sudden urges to wildly accelerate from the ample toll gates. Upon handing the keys back, I achieved an average fuel consumption figure of 6.2 L / 100 Km’s, a vehicle this size with such explosive performance is unheard of.

Summary

The XC60 is my first taste of the Volvo brand, and if my experience is anything to go by, the competition is going to find it very difficult to compete with these products. The XC60 is a product that has changed my entire perspective on the SUV segment, not only is it a bang for buck prospect, but it is also by far the best car I have ever had on test and that is a very bold statement considering this includes the likes of the Audi Q8, a vehicle that is a couple of classes above the Swede.

The one aspect I enjoy about non “mainstream” manufacturers is the price that goes with their products is not exorbitant, and neither do they carry an extensive options list which can in some cases end up being another two or three cars, as much as that can be a huge bragging right, it is nonsensical.

My only peeve with the XC60 is the data sim card slot, it is placed in such an awkward location and is so fastidious to handle that you may end up losing the sim card in the vehicle’s innards. Besides that, I can’t fault this car at all. As things stand this is a top trump that deserves the spotlight and more.

Highlights

  • Lane Keeping Aid
  • Driver Alert Control
  • Road Sign Information
  • Roll Stability Control
  • City Safety with Steering Support

Gottagged Rating

9.8/10

Pricing

Volvo XC60 D5 Inscription Geartronic AWD

  • R966,600
  • 5.5l /100km
  • Diesel
  • Automatic

Warranties

Volvo Plan: 5 year / 100 000 km Warranty and Maintenance Plan.

Service intervals: 20 000km

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