Volvo XC60 R-Design Test Drive Review
2015 Volvo XC60 R-Design – Click above for high resolution picture gallery

Volvo XC60 R-Design Review

Car Tested: 2015 Volvo XC60 R-Design

Price OTR Mumbai: Rs. 60.98 – 65.33 lakhs

The Volvo XC60 R-Design comes across as a wonderful package, offering a lot of driving fun too

Let me start this review with a line from the verdict. ”What a car!” exclaimed I, just when this beautiful R-Design was about to leave my garage and I was walking back to my trusty ol’ Chevrolet Beat. The XC60 clocked a lot of miles when it was with me and I must say that it impressed me quite a lot. While Volvo has been selling the XC60 in India since quite some time now, the R-Design trim was introduced just recently and it not only makes the car look much more beautiful, it also comes with some changes under the hood to make the SUV so much more better to drive. The XC90 which we reviewed last month was the first ever Volvo I drove and it left me wanting for more. So, while I continued my crib about reviewing only SUVs since the last two months, I quite jumped at the opportunity to take the XC60 R-Design for a long spin and check out how it is.

Motor Quest: Volvo is known to produce some of the safest cars in the world. The XC60 is no different. It comes packed with a lot of gizmos that enhance the safety quotient of the vehicle. There is a piece of machinery that is used to determine how buildings can withstand earthquakes. Volvo uses a similar machine in its Gothenburg lab and conducts crash tests of its cars there to secure its reputation of building some of the safest cars in the world.

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The R-Design trim adds a sporty touch to the otherwise mature design

Exteriors – The Volvo XC60 has always been a good and mature-looking SUV. It looks butch and has immense road presence. The R-Design trim, however, is a bit on the sportier side. The body panels, bumpers, etc. get a lot of youthful enhancements and the vehicle looks much more younger than before. While the styling is not loud at all, the SUV still manages to look very handsome and appeals to the elder age group as much as it does to the young ones out there. In the R-Design trim, the vehicle’s bumpers get a redesign and the new styling elements add a lot of appeal to the vehicle.

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The XC60 packs in good proportions, distinct tail lamps and alloys stand out

The Volvo XC60 is rare on our roads and invites lots of curious glances

The side profile remains more or less the same, barring the funky alloy wheels. At the rear, again there are just minor changes but when we take the whole vehicle into account, we must agree that the R-Design is leagues ahead of the regular XC60 when it comes to design. The vehicle is flanked by R-Design badges here and there, but honestly even without those badges, it is quite easy to differentiate an R-Design XC60 from a regular one. The XC60 is also quite bulky when viewed from certain angles but some clever lines do manage to hide some of the bulk. From the front quarters, the SUV looks compact and sporty while from the rear quarters, the car looks big enough to be called an SUV.

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The white shade looks cool but the XC60 looks killer in black too

The front bumper gets unique design props like the black inserts that you see in the pictures. The vertical LED DRLs are very bright and are a catalyst in attracting people’s attention towards the car. The grille has the typical Volvo design with the slanting line and a small R-Design logo. The colour of the grille is pure black and it looks very cool. The ORVMs come finished in brushed aluminium and while this shade looks decent on a white car, I’d say it’ll look a few notches better on a red or black car, just because the contrast effect will be too high. The chunky alloys have a pleasing design but someone did comment that they look like aftermarket add-ons. At the rear, you see dual exhausts and a very subtle silver skid plate at the lower part of the bumper.

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The layout of the dashboard is brilliant and everything is in easy reach

Interiors – I keep mentioning in various reviews how I’m a sucker for all-black interiors and this is one of the major reasons why I liked the XC60 R-Design so much. The insides of the XC90 were quite cool but somehow I prefer the XC60 over it. The black interiors with brushed aluminium accents carry forward the sporty appeal from the outside of the vehicle. The layout of the dashboard is oriented towards the driver and it is quite perfect. The steering wheel comes wrapped in leather and feels rich to hold. Volvo has also hit the nail right on the head with the size of the wheel. It has the usual buttons for audio and phone controls apart from the standard cruise control.

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Unlike the larger XC90, the XC60 R-Design has a ton on buttons on the inside

The XC60 has a loaded infotainment system which you can play with

Moving to the centre console, now this is where Volvo has made the maximum use of buttons. There are buttons for everything right from phone to audio to GPS to the parking sensors. It does take some time to get used to so many buttons and after you get the hang of so many buttons, you can start using them to get to know the various functions in the infotainment system. There are a ton of settings that you can play with. The ‘Vehicle Settings’ menu is quite interesting and lets you know a lot of information and statistics about the car. There are also settings for ORVMs, auto headlights and wipers, phone dialing and SMS read-out, etc. The voice command feature also works brilliantly and feels very convenient. The vehicle gets an awesome Harman Kardon audio system which produces beautiful music and causes a nice eargasm. You can adjust the bass, treble, mids, etc. to your liking and the system doesn’t disappoint even at very high volumes.

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All round visibility is great, seats are large and supportive

The Volvo XC60 has very large windows at the front while the ones at the rear are also decently sized. Visibility is very good all around and the IRVM and ORVMs offer a good field of view. The IRVM has a dimming feature at night and it proved to be utterly useful in Mumbai’s traffic where every nut drives with his high beams on. The ORVMs can be set to tilt down when we slot the vehicle in reverse, a feature present on most other luxury vehicles, but what I noticed is that in the XC60, the mirrors tilt down a bit more than expected and in tricky situations, you again need to adjust them upwards manually. The seats of the SUV are extremely comfortable and come with a load of adjustment options. The front seat gets a memory function for 3 settings and finding the perfect driving position is simple.

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The R-Design comes with a new engine and gearbox combo which performs better

Performance – The regular XC60 comes with a 2.5-litre diesel engine mated to a slow 6-speed automatic gearbox. However, the R-Design comes with a 2.0-litre oil-burner. This powerplant belts out 181 horses at 4250 RPM and 400 Nm of twist at 1750 RPM. The engine is mated to an 8-speed automatic transmission and the vehicle lurches from 0-100 km/hr in 8.5 seconds which is claimed to be 0.2 seconds faster than the D5 variant that comes with the slower transmission. However, the D4 trim that we drove seems to be tuned for fuel efficiency which seemed very evident from the gearshifts.

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The engine of the XC60 is very responsive and accelerates swiftly

The 4-pot engine has a good blend of eager performance & mileage

The XC60 has an Eco+ plus mode which has only one motive – to churn out the maximum possible fuel efficiency. When the Eco+ plus mode switched on, I noticed that the AC would switch off and you need to switch it on manually. This mode, however, does manage to give out pretty good mileage figures (more on that later) without compromising too much on power delivery. In the regular D mode, the vehicle drives very effortlessly and turbo lag is nicely taken care of. Power delivery is punchy and linear and the vehicle doesn’t lose a sweat in touching high speeds. Under normal driving conditions, the gearbox upshifts at 1500 RPM while with slightly enthusiastic driving, it upshifts at 2000 RPM. The S mode is even more punchier and with the pedal touching the metal, the XC60 goes all the way to the redline of 5000 RPM before upshifting. The XC60 is a comfortable cruiser and does 100 km/hr at 1400 and 1500 RPM in D and S modes respectively.

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8-speed gearbox is smooth, the SUV produces lots of torque steer though

However, there is also a lot of torque steer and if you take off on an empty stretch with full throttle, be sure that the vehicle will steer across a lane or two, since all the massive torque is sent directly to the front wheels. The SUV also gets paddle shifters which are fun to use and the gearbox also has a manual tiptronic mode which I used a few times but not more than that. Talking about the ‘box, it is very smooth in its operations mostly and only sometimes do you actually feel the cogs changing. This gearbox and engine combination is so much more better than the D5 trim that we’d be surprised if someone still buys that variant. The XC60 loves returning good fuel efficiency and we managed to extract 13-14 km/l with regular driving and around 9 km/l under very hard driving and these figures are pretty good for a vehicle of this segment.

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The Volvo XC90 has sorted dynamics and it handles corners beautifully

Driving Dynamics – The Volvo XC60 R-Design has a steering which you wouldn’t exactly call light. The wheel has some weight but it isn’t that heavy to cause too much inconvenience while parking. At high speeds, the steering starts gaining weight and promises a lot of confidence to the driver. Steering feedback is so-so and we would have loved it if it was a bit more. On the handling front, the XC60 really rocks and it promises a lot of fun while attacking corners at speeds you would generally do in a well-weighted sedan. The 235 section Pirelli P Zero Rosso tyres have outstanding levels of grip.

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Ride is a bit stiff on the XC60 while the brakes are quite sharp

The XC60 is a nice handler with good amounts of grip, ride is a bit stiff

If you gain something, you lose something. All this excellent handling comes at the cost of ride quality. The suspension is a bit stiffly sprung and hence the vehicle doesn’t have the most supple, or should I say, comforting ride. At high speeds, it gobbles up potholes with ease and the SUV remains very nicely composed, but at city speeds, some of the undulations do manage to filter inside the cabin, with a thud too sometimes. The suspension settings cannot really be tweaked for Indian versions since the vehicle comes as a completely built unit from its home country. The braking performance on the XC60 R-Design is just brilliant and the pedal has enough feel while the brakes have a lot of bite that make the vehicle stop in time.

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The XC60 is loaded to the brim with safety features, Volvo = Safety

Safety and After Sales Service – Since Volvo stands for ultimate safety, I really don’t find the need to write this paragraph but since I don’t want an incoming call from a contact called Faisal MotorBeam, I’ll go on. The Volvo XC60 R-Design comes loaded with a City Safety Package, Driver Support Package, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and pedestrian and cyclist detection, Dynamic Stability and Traction Control, Intelligent Driver Information System, ABS with EBA (Emergency Brake Assistance), TPMS, water-repellent side windows and adaptive brake lights. Phew, that’s a lot! The vehicle also gets the usual front, side and curtain airbags. Talking about service, of course Volvo is nowhere near Mercedes, Audi and BMW but the company is definitely working up its way there. Also, Volvo long-term ownership, reliability and maintenance remains a concern for buyers since parts are imported and dealerships are few.

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The Volvo XC60 makes for a very compelling buy in the luxury SUV segment

Verdict – I’ll repeat what I said in the introduction paragraph. What a car! While the BMW X3 may be more fun to drive than this and the Mercedes GLE might be more comfortable, the Volvo isn’t a bad proposition at all and it is a brilliant alternative to the X3, GLE and the Q5. The Volvo manages to offer the best of all worlds and the fact that it is imported as a CBU, unlike its rivals which are locally assembled, makes the deal even more sweeter. Also, the Volvo seems a bit cheaper or at par with competition but it benefits from lower insurance premiums which is again like a cherry on the cake. All in all, the Volvo XC60 R-Design is a great buy and we don’t see any reason for it to not be successful in our market. On a personal note, after driving the XC90 first and now the XC60, I’ve most definitely made up my mind to welcome a Volvo car in my garage in the near future.

The 2015 Volvo XC60 looks great, comes loaded with bells and whistles and is offered at a very reasonable price tag making it a very good option for buyers in this segment.

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The Volvo XC60 is a CBU while its rivals are assembled in CKD form

What’s Cool

* R-Design trim looks refreshingly smart, sporty interiors
* The new engine and gearbox combo is much improved
* Brilliant handling and a ton of features on-board

What’s Not So Cool

* Ride quality may not be to everyone’s favour
* Volvo’s after-sales network is still in the growing stages

Alternatives: Audi Q5, Mercedes GLE, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport

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Buy the Volvo XC60 R-Design and you get lots of exclusivity with a blend of style

Volvo XC60 R-Design Specifications

* Engine: 1969cc, 4-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
* Power: 181 HP @ 4250 RPM
* Torque: 400 Nm @ 1750 – 2500 RPM
* Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic automatic
* 0-100 km/hr: 8.5 seconds
* Top Speed: 210 km/hr
* Fuel Consumption: 9-13 km/l
* Fuel Type: Diesel
* Suspension: McPherson Struts (Front), Independent suspension with coil springs (Rear)
* Tyres: 235/60/18
* Brakes: Ventilated Disc (Front and Rear), ABS
* Safety: Six Airbags, ESP, ABS, Hill Start Assist, EBD, City Safety Package, Driver Support Package, Collision Warning

Volvo XC60 R-Design Dimensions

* Overall length x width x height: 4644 mm X 1891 mm X 1713 mm
* Wheelbase: 2774 mm
* Front/Rear Track: 1632 mm/ 1586 mm
* Turning Radius: 5.8 metres
* Ground clearance: 231 mm
* Boot Volume: 495 litres
* Fuel Tank Capacity: 70 litres
* Kerb Weight: 1854 kgs

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The complete package is very nicely built and there are hardly any complaints

Testers’ Note:

“Volvo has never stressed on the driving experience as much as they rave about safety and technology but the XC60 is a fun car to drive and really engages you. The interior is a bit old with the array of confusing buttons but look past the interior design and one will appreciate the engine and handling package of the car. Among a sea of German offerings in this segment, the Volvo XC60 manages to offer a very unique and fun filled driving experience.” – Faisal Khan, Editor, MotorBeam.
“Volvo makes some great cars and only a true enthusiast knows what Volvo cars are all about. The XC60 impresses with its superb performance and brilliant dynamics. Being a Volvo, it makes you feel absolutely safe in the cabin as well since safety has always been at the forefront for the automaker. The XC60 is all about understated elegance, it’s not flashy or bold but only those who drive a Volvo know very well as to why they swear by the Swedish automaker and its impressive cars.” – Javeid Khan, Deputy Editor, MotorBeam.
“I have driven a lot of SUVs from Mercedes, BMW, Audi and Land Rover, but after driving the XC90 first and now the XC60, I’ve somehow found these Volvo vehicles much more appealing than the Germans. BMW has better handling characteristics no doubt, but the overall package that Volvo offers is excellent and it’s sad to see that these cars aren’t bringing in the numbers that rivals are clocking. I really hope Volvo succeeds with their new marketing strategies and these immensely potent vehicles have their fair due of success in the Indian market.” – Parth Gohil, Road Tester, MotorBeam.
“The Volvo XC60 has won my heart. From the moment I entered the car, the sporty looking interiors and the plethora of buttons kept me hooked. The quality of the materials used is really good and the build quality is excellent since it’s imported as a CBU. The driving experience was very nice with the engine providing good power while being refined too. For me, it makes much more sense than other SUVs in the segment considering it comes with top notch safety equipment and looks gorgeous.” – Aman Sancheti, Road Tester, MotorBeam.