Geely’s Volvo Cars posted strong sales for the first half of 2019, with sales up 7.3 per cent year on year. The growth was due to continued demand for its SUVs, led by the XC60. Continuing QUBE/just-auto’s review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this best-selling SUV.
The second generation XC60 has three main trim levels to choose from: the entry-level Momentum, R-Design and range-topping Inscription. The interior, regardless of trim, is cloaked in classy materials. The R-Design we took out this week featured charcoal nappa leather upholstery, a frameless rearview mirror and heated front seats. The Inscription includes driftwood inlays along the dash while the Inscription Pro adds heated steering wheel, windscreen and front seat massage function.
Connectivity and infotainment
Crowning an uncluttered central stack is an iPad portrait-style touchscreen that conveys the non-critical information. In making the distinction, Volvo calls this the ‘now and whenever’ approach, reflecting the importance of the information that is displayed by where it is visible. The huge touchscreen, flanked by a pair of vertical chrome air vents, can also be operated wearing gloves thanks to its infrared technology. While the touchscreen eliminates a number of buttons and dials that can litter any dashboard – thereby presenting a minimalist feel to the cockpit – some may find it fiddly to adjust the climate control via a screen. Like most things found in new car cockpits nowadays, it all becomes apparent once you have spent a little time figuring out how it all works.
The sat-nav is also worthy of note. While all the usual apps are provided on Volvo’s Sensus Navigation, they include useful things like: Glympse (send your location to friends and family); Send to Car (send a destination to the car from a phone using Volvo On Call); and Weather. Volvo On Call was initially developed as a telematics safety system that alerts the emergency services if you are involved in an accident, or if you need roadside assistance due to a flat tyre. It now also acts as a security system allowing stolen vehicles to be tracked. Other neat tricks include notification if your car alarm is triggered, remote car lock/unlock, flash headlight for location in a crowded car park and remote operation of the HVAC system.
As part of Volvo’s Sensus technology, In-car delivery is a new service that allows online orders to be delivered directly to the boot of any Volvo. Using the carmaker’s On Call service, In-car delivery allows single-time access for depositing items such as groceries or dry-cleaning in the boot of a parked car. It essentially turns a car into a preferred delivery address. You can also send a destination directly to the car’s sat-nav so it’s all ready to go on starting your journey.
The fresh digital display theme colours are also echoed in Volvo’s connected infotainment system, known as Sensus Connect, as viewed on the touchscreen. The cloud-based services allow the driver to find and pay for parking from the car, discover restaurants and stream music. Messages can also be read aloud through the system.
All about that bass
The DAB sound system is engineered by Bowers & Wilkins. The set-up involves 15 speakers, surround sound digital processing and a total system output of 1,100 watts. More specifically, it includes an air-ventilated subwoofer integrated into the car’s body (as opposed to a freestanding unit) to provide low bass tunes, and a speaker on top of the dash.
The posh cabin is long and wide with an optional panoramic roof providing lots of natural light in the back. Seating-wise, the power front seats allow plenty of headroom for six-footers, although the sunroof leaves a little less headroom in the back. The boot holds 505 litres with rear seats in the upright position; boot shape itself is deep and practical with no major wheel arch intrusion. Folding the 60/40 rear seats flat liberates loads of boot space enabling a mountain bike to slip through the large, hands-free power-operated tailgate.
Forward visibility is good with no major blind spots to get bothered about thanks to some relatively thin A-pillars. Rear visibility is not so great (it rarely is in any SUV), although a rearview monitor, bird’s eye view camera and Pilot Assist (see below) help during parking manoeuvres.
While the rear seats do not slide or recline like some rivals, the outer seats incorporate a neat storage idea in the shape of a compartment incorporated into the seat base that can store an iPad, book or magazine.
We also appreciated the power folding rear seat backrests and 150-watt three-pin UK domestic power socket found on the rear of the centre console.
The voice-activated control system works in tandem with the touchscreen. We used it to operate functions such as changing the cabin temperature, inputting an address in the sat-nav or changing radio stations. It generally worked fine although a little hit and miss. Another feature fitted to all XC60s is a built-in car modem creating a WiFi hotspot and enabling happy passengers to remain connected. Rear seat occupants also welcomed the four-zone climate control.
Suppliers to the XC60 include Autoliv, Faurecia and Tenneco. Autoliv supplies the airbags; Faurecia the door panels and exhaust manifold for the gasoline-powered versions of the XC60. The car seemingly flies over bumpy country roads thanks to its controlled electronic suspension system, supplied by Tenneco. The XC60 uses the same suspension as the flagship XC90.
Advanced driver assistance systems
As expected from Volvo, the XC60 comes wrapped in a safety blanket of advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS): Steer Assist (automatically provides steering input in an emergency to help avoid potential collisions), Oncoming Lane Mitigation (designed to prevent head-on collisions at certain speeds if you unwittingly drift out of lane, guiding you into your lane and out of the path of any oncoming cars) and Blind Spot Information Systems with Steer Assist (automatically applies the steering to bring the car back into its own lane, again at certain speeds).
The XC60 also features the carmaker’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous drive technology. Available across the XC60 range, Pilot Assist is a driver-support system that combines a forward-facing camera and radar to detect your lane and any vehicles in front. It then assists with the steering (up to 80mph) to keep the car within its lane, and works with the adaptive cruise control maintain at the desired cruising speed or a safe distance from any vehicle in front. Pilot Assist can automatically accelerate and brake with the flow of traffic, right down to a standstill. The system is optimised for motorway driving and requires you to have your hands on the steering wheel at all times.
Other ADAS technologies include adaptive cruise control, rear parking and 360-degree surround-view cameras, cross traffic alert and pedestrian detection. The spec list goes on.
On the road
Our press review T5 petrol unit with an eight-speed automatic transmission and 19-inch diamond-cut alloy wheels returned 32 mpg, compared to the headline figure of 36.8 mpg combined. Not bad considering its 1,432-litres of luggage space – with the rear seats flat and sunroof curtain rolled back – was full to the brim of end-of-term student paraphernalia. On balance, the XC60’s cool Swedish interior is both practical and desirable with a rich blend of comfort and style.
Volvo Cars sold 60,196 cars during May 2019, as China, Europe and the US all reported a growth in sales compared with the same period last year. The double-digit volume growth in May was reported to be led by the continued demand for the XC60, and followed by the XC40 and XC90. Volvo’s latest models, the V60 estate and the US-built S60 sedan, also contributed to the strong performance. China reported a sales growth of 17.4 per cent in May compared with the same period last year. Total sales in the region reached 12,425 cars during the month. The growth came on the back of demand for the locally assembled XC60 and S90 models. European sales in May grew 16.9 per cent to 29,681 cars, led by demand for the XC60, followed by the XC40 and the V60 estate. US sales reached 9,761 cars in May, up 4.5 per cent compared with the same period last year. XC90 was the best-selling car in the region followed by the XC60.