Our first taste of Volvo's new Jaguar F-Pace rival comes from the passenger seat, but there's plenty of dynamic promise on show

The Volvo XC60 has been designed to feel confident on the road, and it’s easy to reckon that this goal has been achieved when you’re doing 80mph through a long, g-force-building sweeper and your driver is demonstrating the car’s responsiveness by zig-zagging through the curve.

2017 Volvo XC60 review

The driver is Stefan Karlsson, Volvo’s head of chassis development, and he’s providing XC60 passenger rides on a variety of tracks at the company’s development ground at Hällered, near Gothenburg. Apart from being the first chance journalists have had to experience the XC60 in motion, even if it’s not behind the wheel, Volvo’s objective is to demonstrate what it claims to be a considerable improvement in the car's dynamic abilities. 

"There’s a lot more mechanical grip from the front end," says Karlsson, "this the result of a new double wishbone front suspension that allows the roll centres of each axle to be identical front to rear" - in contrast to the previous XC60.

"So we avoid pitching when the car is rolling, and damper tuning is much easier because we don’t have to control the body with the dampers," he says. That front-end grip certainly seems evident on the track, with Karlsson applying relatively modest steering angles even through tighter turns, especially given that his entry speeds appear to be on the bold side of brisk.  

What is effectively multi-link suspension all round provides other benefits too, not the least of them the rear-end precision needed to provide that high-speed, mid-curve responsiveness. If the car is geometrically unbalanced and its rear axle less precisely located, turning the wheel at high speed tends to produce more roll from the rear rather than producing the adjustment in line that you’d hoped for, Karlsson explains.

"We also wanted the car to steer straight over crests and dips," he says while demonstrating this at stomach-sinking speed, and "the multi-link rear suspension really helps with the ride compared to a trailing arm set-up," he adds. It also provides more longitudinal compliance over bumps, which certainly seems evident from the way it deals with a series of protuberant manhole covers. How good the ride really is will emerge when we try it on UK roads, but it ought to be good because Volvo carries out all its final tuning on roads in Yorkshire.

According to Volvo's R&D boss, Henrik Green, this XC60 has been developed to provide more driver entertainment than we’re used to from most Volvos, and while the mainstream D5 diesel version we’ve experience is no sports car, it certainly comes across as a satisfyingly capable and responsive machine, as well as being quiet, comfortable and very pleasant to sit in.

Our Verdict

Volvo XC60

Volvo is justifiably proud of its different approach, and the usable, attractive XC60 is good enough to stand out in a very able compact SUV crowd

Join the debate

Comments
20

25 April 2017
Volvo - you are on the first step of the ladder to creating an identity that gives clear blue water between yourselves and the Jags/Germans - don't throw that away. Don't be influenced by 20 something motoring journalists who think that Nurburgring-honed handling is something to aspire to. It simply isn't. You will never beat the "my SUV's a sports car really" brigade. Do your own thing - create comfortable family cars that 99% of the people who actually buy these cars are happy with. Did you ever see an SUV sliding through a corner on opposite lock? Of course not. Quiet, comfy, boring if you will, but combined with that cool Scandi-style you're developing so well. That's the ticket. My invoice is in the post.

25 April 2017
johnfaganwilliams wrote:

Volvo - you are on the first step of the ladder to creating an identity that gives clear blue water between yourselves and the Jags/Germans - don't throw that away. Don't be influenced by 20 something motoring journalists who think that Nurburgring-honed handling is something to aspire to. It simply isn't. You will never beat the "my SUV's a sports car really" brigade. Do your own thing - create comfortable family cars that 99% of the people who actually buy these cars are happy with. Did you ever see an SUV sliding through a corner on opposite lock? Of course not. Quiet, comfy, boring if you will, but combined with that cool Scandi-style you're developing so well. That's the ticket. My invoice is in the post.

This. Spot on.


25 April 2017
johnfaganwilliams wrote:

Volvo - you are on the first step of the ladder to creating an identity that gives clear blue water between yourselves and the Jags/Germans - don't throw that away... Quiet, comfy, boring if you will, but combined with that cool Scandi-style you're developing so well. That's the ticket. My invoice is in the post.

I agree so much.

A34

26 April 2017
johnfaganwilliams wrote:

... - create comfortable family cars that 99% of the people who actually buy these cars are happy with. ....

Ok but they still need to drive well. Meanwhile kudos to Volvo for wasting journalists time on a freebie to Sweden for a ride in a car with a professional driver! "We sell to passenger-buyers, not drivers"?

25 April 2017
Volvo XC60 - Made in China.
Jaguar F Pace - Made in England.

Nothing more to say.

25 April 2017
Bazzer wrote:

Volvo XC60 - Made in China.
Jaguar F Pace - Made in England.

Nothing more to say.

A little more to say:

Volvo XC60 - Made in Sweden if you buy it in Europe

Jaguar F Pace - Made in England by Indian-owned company with notorious reliability issues

25 April 2017
We had a company Volvo on the fleet and it was a bag of rubbish admit it was four years ago and the new engine does not get a great press being rough and 30mpg notany where near the 50 official for the diesel.For of my friends have jags and I have had two and can honestly say they have been great reliable cars m more problems with a Honda Accord and E class estate.

26 April 2017
Bazzer wrote:

Volvo XC60 - Made in China.
Jaguar F Pace - Made in England.

Nothing more to say.

XC60 made in Sweden actually. F-Pace made in England by low-cost immigrants.
What's worse than a nationalist? An ignorant nationalist :)

26 April 2017
"Volvo’s largest market in 2016 was China, with total sales of 90,930 cars, an increase of 11.5 per cent. The best-selling models in the world’s largest car market were the locally-produced Volvo XC60 and S60L premium sedan."

Volvo's own website. Gimp.

26 April 2017
My Made in England XE is the worst car I've had, having many build quality issues - as did two of the courtesy cars the dealer provided me with, one XE and one XF. A friend had a F-Pace in his business fleet, it was returned and replaced (F.O.C) by Jaguar due to ongoing quality issues. Meanwhile the Volvo V70 he's had for two years now has been faultless. I wish I stayed with my not Made in England car now instead of going for the Jag.

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