Updated luxury Swedish SUV gains mild hybrid drive and an Android-powered infotainment system in Singapore
Since its launch in 2017, Volvo’s XC60 has quickly risen up the charts to become the brand’s best-selling car worldwide. It’s not hard to see why, as the trend for upmarket SUV-styled cars continues to maintain its course and Volvo’s strongly European design has its share of fans round the world.
The XC60 here is a new, midlife update for 2021, and in the spirit of reducing CO2 emissions the range is powered exclusively by four-cylinder engines. In the B6, four-wheel drive trim driven here there’s a combined power output of 300 horsepower, which is 50 horses more than the less powerful XC60 B5, two-wheel drive variant. Both feature mild hybrid drivetrains, but the B6 is a good S$39,000 more expensive. The large price difference appears to be chiefly because the XC60 B5 holds a VES B, neutral rating while the XC60 B6 has a C2 rating which sees it hit by a S$25,000 surcharge.
Still, 300 horsepower is not something to be taken lightly and the XC60 B6 is a pretty spirited performer in a straight line. The mild hybrid portion of the drivetrain features a 48-volt integrated starter motor that gives the turbocharged 2.0-litre engine an extra push, allowing the big car to hit 100km/h from a standstill in just 6.2 seconds. The additional assistance from the electric motor can readily be felt in how quickly the car steps off the line with absolutely zero lag.
However, the relaxed steering, soft suspension damping and general lack of feedback from the car makes this a family cruiser rather than a sporty SUV. It is a very heavy car, tipping the scales at 1,879kg and that really does give the car a sense of solidity on the road.
There’s plenty of traction from the four-wheel drive system, but compared to a BMW X3 in any form the XC60 B6 is a much softer car that doesn’t particularly seem to enjoy being driven in a spirited fashion.
The interior appointments are where it’s at for the Volvo though. It gains a new, Android-powered, Google-driven, internet-enabled infotainment system. This means that you can ask the car for directions through Google Maps, get weather updates, and also access the millions of songs available over the air on Spotify without needing the pair to your smartphone. If you’re already a Spotify user, you know that as long as the car can receive an internet connection, you can listen to almost any song ever recorded in the last 50 years or so, any time you want.
Sound insulation is on par with the usual luxury SUVs, and the roomy interior is further enhanced by the panoramic sunroof. It’s wide enough for three adults to be seated in comfort at the back, and the boot has a nominal carrying capacity of 483 litres, expandable to 1,410 litres with the back seats folded out of the way.
It wouldn’t be a Volvo without plenty of active safety tech, and the XC60 B6 obliges with a full suite of them. The adaptive cruise control is smooth and easy to use, the blind spot monitoring is present but unobtrusive, and the rear cross traffic alert will actually automatically apply emergency brakes if the car thinks that it will hit something or someone when you are reversing out of a parking space.
The XC60 B6 also features what Volvo calls its Pilot Assist, which is the brand’s fancy term for its semi-autonomous driving features. Similar to those found in other continental cars, the car will track the lane markings and keep the car within the lane unless overridden by driver input. Combined with the adaptive cruise control the car can almost drive itself on highways, but you do need to stay alert because there will always be that one car or motorcycle that cuts in directly in front of you with no regard to the safety gap and sets off the XC60’s warning alarms about the possibility of an imminent accident.
The R-Design trim is standard on all XC60 variants sold in Singapore, and that essentially means that we get the sporty body kit option. But the big question is, is the XC60 B6 worth the entry price of more than S$280k with COE? It may have a mild hybrid drivetrain, but in practical use we averaged just 10.1l/100km with plenty of highway driving. The 71-litre fuel tank may give the car good range, but fill-ups are going to feel costlier than usual if you are more used to 50 and 60-litre fuel tanks.
It’s ultimately a car in the same price range as a Mercedes-Benz GLC , and a Toyota Harrier offers similar levels of comfort for a lot less money. A Mazda CX-8 is almost half the price, an arguably better drive, but has a cabin that is much less posh than the Volvo’s.
There’s no arguing with how comfortable the car is to be in, but outright dynamics are lacking. You could argue the point that this is a luxury car for people that don’t care about how exciting their cars are to drive. The B6 variant takes a big price hit against the B5 too, and if you really want an XC60 the B5 version is really the better buy.
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Volvo XC60 B6 R-Design
|Engine||1,969cc, inline four, turbocharged|
|Power||300hp at 5400rpm|
|Torque||420Nm at 2100-4800rpm|
|VES Banding||C2 / +S$25,000|
|Price||S$287,000 with COE|
|Verdict||Posh and comfortable with the usual Swedish design touches, but driving character is lacking and poor CO2 rating leads to a high VES penalty|