What is it?
We have previously been impressed with the Volvo XC60 and equally so with the range-topping 218bhp D5 diesel and equally so with the T5 petrol, but now it’s time to see if the downsized D4 can complete the set.
This engine is not only the cheapest way into owning the smallest Volvo SUV, but is the most recent addition. The four-cylinder, 2.0-litre diesel, which is only available with front-wheel drive, was introduced to the XC60 range in 2016, with the aim of lowering emissions and increasing fuel economy.
In order to achieve this, Volvo has installed its i-ART technology, which monitors the pressure feedback in each fuel injector and adapts them accordingly in each cylinder rather than centrally in the common rail.
There is also the option of an eight-speed automatic gearbox alongside Volvo’s standard six-speed manual affair. From the outset, the XC60 D4 FWD seems enticing not only from a private ownership viewpoint but also a fleet management point of view.
What's it like?
It takes literally moments to realise how gutsy the engine is, with power available low down allowing you to make swift progress around town, while its equally keen to rev when you decide to push on.
Such is the availability of power, crushing the accelerator can cause the front wheels to scramble as they try to find traction. The engine on the whole is quiet, although a distinctive clatter is audible while idling but fades into the background once on the move, as wind noise whipped up from the large wing mirrors and tyre roar start to make their presence known.
Volvo’s eight-speed automatic gearbox is smooth and concise in most situations as it quietly goes about its business. Like most auto ‘boxes it has been set-up to climb through the ratios quickly, which keeps revs low and noise to a minimum.
Push the accelerator harder and the XC60’s gearbox will hold onto a ratio as long as possible before shifting up. Change the dynamics and select ‘Sport’ and this feeling is accentuated further, with the upshifts becoming crisper. Decide to change gears manually and the gearbox changes almost instantly after dabbing the lever.
However, it is not all good news. In most circumstances the gearbox is fine, going about its business quietly and efficiently, but ease off the gas after reaching cruising speed and the serenity is broken by a sudden jolt as the gearbox goes up one more ratio. The sensation feels similar to mistiming a gear change with a manual ‘box, causing the car to lurch forward slightly.
The ride is typical Volvo, very smooth and comfortable, only the larger intrusions cause reverberations to pass through the cabin. With its ability to absorb the ruts in its stride, the XC60 does tend to wallow over the roads undulations.
Its steering is weighty and quick, it doesn’t turn in or control its body roll in quite the same vein as the Audi Q5 or BMW X3, while in tight spaces it does feel unweidly and cumbersome.
But then that is not where the XC60’s strengths lie, it is a competent and comfortable mile muncher more than a sporty SUV. The interior now looks dated and the centre console very button heavy, but few would argue there are fewer nicer places to be seated as the motorway miles pass by.