Although Volvo’s Geely-backed transformation began in 2010, the fruits of those labours (and the significant cash injection) didn’t really materialise until the arrival of the second-generation XC60 in 2017.
We’d received the more expensive seven-seat XC90 two years before that, but the XC60 was new-era-Volvo’s first proper mainstream blockbuster, becoming the Swedish brand’s biggest seller. And with used ones now starting at around the same price of a new mid-range Volkswagen Golf, suddenly this slab of Scandinavian stylishness looks like a lot of car for the money.
There’s plenty of choice to be had. Engines are all 2.0-litre four-cylinder units, starting with the sensible and well-rounded 188bhp diesel in the D4 and topped by the 385bhp T8 Twin Engine petrol-electric plug-in hybrid.
Mild-hybrid petrols and diesels with a ‘B’ prefix recently joined the line-up, but you won’t see many of those in the classifieds yet.
That’s no problem, because the engines you do find all impress and there’s choice of front- or four-wheel drive with most. Manuals are pretty rare, because you could only have such a gearbox on the D4, but the eight-speed automatic is better in any case, even if it is slightly hesitant.
Of the three trims, entry-level Momentum is so well equipped that we’d stick there and forgo the sporty styling of R-Design or expensive interior upgrades on Inscription.
Optional air suspension is hard to find on the used market, but the ride is fairly good on the standard suspension set-up anyway.
In addition to its smooth ride, the XC60 generally feels very assured on the road, but you won’t find much in the way of driving fun, because it has rather limp handling in comparison to the Audi Q5 or BMW X3.
However, the XC60 is impressively refined and beats all of its rivals on the safety front. As you would expect, given Volvo’s exemplary reputation in this domain, the XC60 scored the maximum five stars in Euro NCAP’s tests, outperforming those German contemporaries for adult, child and pedestrian protection.
Where modern Volvos really stand out, though, is inside. And it’s not just the striking design that impresses; when it comes to sheer build quality, the company can now count itself among the best in the business.
The XC60 is big, too, with plenty of head and leg room front and rear, plus an impressively practical boot.
You’re going to need at least £25,000 to get into this generation of XC60. For that, it will be a 2017 car with above-average mileage but a full service history. You can take your pick of most engines and trims if you spend between £30,000 and £35,000, but the rarer plug-in hybrid is expensive, at around £45,000.
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