Volvo XC60 D5 2009 2009 Review

July 7th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

volvo-xc60-fq3

“In my car safety comes first” is a sentence we’ve all heard from parents and other ultra responsible people, but unless their car is a Volvo they’re wrong. You can drive agonisingly slowly with your lights on permanently and indicate miles before you make a turn but without having the distinctive Swedish embrace of a Volvo cocooning you, you’re just not a true safety enthusiast. Since the first Volvo rolled off the production line in 1927 safety has always been the focus with innovations over the years including: laminated windscreens, three-point seatbelts, kiddie locks, side-airbags and traction control. In total, 75 safety innovations have spawned from Volvo and many of those have filtered down into lesser machines. Now, even the budget carmakers are achieving a full 5-star NCAP safety rating and telling everyone about it, so how are Volvo to stay competitive in such an ungrateful and uninterested automotive world?

By diversifying. In the same way other manufacturers are now using safety credentials to sell cars, Volvo has turned its attention to styling and driving dynamics while still maintaining its automotive tradition for safety innovation. The Volvo XC60 is the latest manifestation of Volvo’s modern philosophy and the result is pretty damn good.

Before you even start daydreaming about how effortlessly it could ram-raid your local dairy or how you could fall asleep at the wheel on a long straight road only to be woken up in time to turn the corner, it’s impossible not to admire the vehicle’s visual appeal. The XC60 is the first production vehicle to show off Volvo’s new styling language and the results are modern and stunning but still distinctly Volvo. A strong face featuring a large badge and grille pushes reward into broad shoulders and side windows that taper off creating a coupe-like roofline and an imposing stance. Out back ‘coke bottle’ vertical LED tail lamps flow downwards using micro-optics for a unique illumination effect. Side scuff plates a rear skid plate and a front bumper bar hint at off-road possibility. Chunky 17-inch or optional 18-inch wheels and twin chrome exhausts round out the package with a dash of bling.

Get inside the XC60 and it’s quickly obvious the cabin is as much about feel as it is about aesthetics. The seats are exceptional and reinforce Volvo’s claims at having the best seats in the business. The leather is plush and the seats have width and excellent support, they are heated, electrically adjusted and offer three memory settings. The rear seat row has pop-up booster cushions built-in which raise child passengers to the optimum level for the seatbelts and pretentioners to operate.

The cabin surfaces are finished well with a visually appealing mixture of contrasting materials including leather, soft and hard plastics and brushed metal. A floating centre control stack is a true styling feature housing an array of buttons and knobs that are easy to read and operate while driving. A dashboard mounted multi-function display offers information on audio and climate settings and the instrumentation looks sharp with floating needles and display screens housed within. If you don’t pony up for the satellite navigation option ($4,175) the gaping gap left by the missing display screen does ruin the flow of the control stack but could also act as a statement that you always know exactly where you’re going!

The XC60’s power-operated tailgate opens wide to a 495-litre boot space, fold down the 40/20/40 split rear seat back and that increases to a flat-floored 1455-litre capacity.

Under the bonnet sits Volvo’s 2.4-litre 5-cylinder turbocharged diesel powerplant that pumps out 136kW of power and 400Nm of torque. It will carry the XC60 from 0-100kph in just under 10 seconds, and while this figure isn’t exactly rocket-ship-fast the XC60 can feel genuinely brisk especially pulling through the mid-range with torquey acceleration. For a larger vehicle economy figures are decent with the XC60 drinking 8.3l/100km on the combined cycle. The transmission is a six-speed automatic supplied by Aisin-Warner which offers manual shifts if required. It’s a fairly relaxed gearbox that never chops down prematurely and feels most at home during cruising.

What’s more impressive than the power train is the XC60’s driving dynamics which are well balanced and car-like. Special emphasis has been put on reducing body roll while cornering and the results are impressive. The XC60 refuses to loll around on windy roads and a strong level of grip is achieved thanks to a full-time all—wheel-drive set up regulating power to all corners. Steering is assisted by a clever speed-sensitive power steering system that offers liberal assistance at low speeds and is reduced as speed increases. It’s effective and can also be manually adjusted. With its 230mm clearance and 1912kg body weight the XC60 may struggle to be as sporty as some SUV competitors but it always feels assured on the road and is a breeze to control for any driver.

In terms of safety innovations Volvo hasn’t taken its foot off the gas pedal and the XC60 has plenty on offer for enthusiasts. First up is Dynamic Stability and Traction control which keeps a keen eye on how the vehicle is behaving and detects over- or under-steer and can apply the brakes or reduce engine power accordingly. Roll Stability Control is next in the safety arsenal and will help prevent rollover by monitoring leaning angles. If you are absolutely determined to put the Volvo on its side then the Roll-Over Protection System will activate the seatbelt pre-tensioners and fire the side and curtain airbags to cushion you.

The most innovative safety feature is Volvo’s City Safety and the XC60 is the first car ever to be fitted with it. A laser sensor mounted on the XC60’s windscreen detects vehicles between 6-8 meters in front and if they are stationary or moving significantly slower than the Volvo it will automatically apply its brakes. So if you’re travelling between 4km/h and 30km/h and become distracted by the kids fighting or a swimsuit clad roller-skater and show no intention of stopping, the Volvo’s got your back. Insurance companies are already making noise about dropping rates for owners of vehicles with this feature.

If the standard XC60 doesn’t have enough safety for you, there are optional factory upgrades. One option is a lane departure warning system with a driver alert feature that detects when the driver is crashing out and wakes them up before they, well, crash out. Other safety options include a Trailer Stability Assist monitor and an adaptive cruise control with a collision warning and automatic braking.

If safety is your drug then Volvo is a keen dealer but the XC60 has much more to offer. It isn’t the quickest or the most exciting machine to drive but it does offer agility for its size and true ‘point and accelerate’ drivability. It’s also supremely comfortable inside and is elegantly styled and of course safer than anything else on the road. What’s most impressive is the vehicles unwavering focus on its occupants with their safety, comfort and driving experience absolutely paramount. The XC60 removes so many of the traditional excuses for not buying a Volvo, if you’re in the market for a 5-seater SUV don’t leave it off your test drive list.

Click through to the next page for a list of specifications

Price: $76,990

What we like:

  • Handsome styling
  • Interior comfort
  • Easy to drive
  • Car-like handling

What we don’t like:

  • Premium machine but price to match
  • Optional Sat Nav’s absence too noticeable

Words and Photos: Adam Mamo

Volvo XC60 D5 AWD – Specifications

Engine Name T6 AWD D5
Engine Type Description Five-cylinder turbo charged diesel
Power Train All wheel drive
Number of cylinders 5
Engine Displacement 2400 cc
Engine Bore 82 mm
Engine Stroke 93.2 mm
Max Engine Power 136 kW
Horsepower 185 hp
Horsepower rev 4000 rpm
Torque 400 Nm
Torque rev 2000 – 2750 rpm
Fuel type Diesel
Performance Acceleration (0-100) Six-speed Geartronic transmission 9.9 s
Maximum speed 200 km/h
Fuel consumption (city)  8.3 l/100km
Fuel consumption (highway) 8.3 l/100km
Fuel consumption (mixed) 8.3 l/100km
Emissions CO2 224 g/km

Capacity

Fuel Capacity 70 l
Cargo Capacity 873 kg
Towing Capacity 2000 kg

Weights

Serving Weight 1 kg
Total Weight 1880 kg
Roof max load 100 kg

Exterior Dimensions

Height 1713 mm
Length 4628 mm
Width 1891 mm
Width inc Mirrors 2142 mm
Wheel base 2815 mm
Track Front 1632 mm
Track Rear 1586 mm
Turning Circle 11.9 m

Koenigsegg engineer builds a new Volvo P1800

May 7th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Vox Volvo P1800 fq

Mattias Vöcks is at it again. Back in 2006, the Swedish-born designer who normally spends his days hand-assembling supercars for Koenigsegg used the SEMA show to unveil a custom 1967 Volvo Amazon that was once voted “Sweden’s Hottest Volvo.” Vöcks’ latest creation is based on the classic Volvo P1800 made famous in part as the car driven by Roger Moore in the British television series ‘The Saint’ from the 1960s.

With help from Swedish design firm Vizualtech, Vöcks has added a few modifications to bring the shapely Swedish beauty up to modern standards. Aerodynamics are improved through a rear diffuser, flat underbody tray and a front fascia that’s been smoothed out and extended by 70mm. Powering the bespoke beast is a 4.4-litre V8 borrowed from a new Volvo XC90 SUV it’s turbocharged and puts its 600 horsepower through a six-speed manual transmission to the back wheels.

Apparently this custom Volvo is expected to enter small-scale production at an unspecified date in the future.

Volvo S60 ceases production… for now

April 14th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo S60 production

The best days for Volvo’s S60 are long gone. The once-strong sales have fallen from 100,000 units in the S60’s early years to a bleak 6,200 in 2008. It was a solid performer but  even Volvo knows its played out, and they’re experts at extending the life-span of models. To make room for the new S60, the last of the originals came off the line on March 31st at the Volvo factory in Ghent, Belgium. The last car built a Sapphire Black S60 is headed to Taiwan, and caps a run of nearly 580,000 S60 vehicles in total.

The S60 is a journeyman model for Volvo, and played a crucial role in the automaker’s lineup for many years. Although once competitive in its segment, the S60 has been surpassed by just about everyone else, and the Ghent factory is now busy focusing on launching the 2010 S60.

Volvo to only make four-cylinder engines

March 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Volvo

Carmakers are all get busy and downsizing engines and embracing efficient technologies, but one company is set to go further than just offering a few hybrid models in their lineup to please the greenies. Anonymous sources at Volvo have confirmed that in the near future, the Swedish carmaker will exclusively use four-cylinder engines – making Volvo the first to take this bold step.

This is as simple as it sounds; no more five, six or eight-cylinder engines at Volvo.  The mysterious company sources are claiming that their new four-cylinder models will be just as powerful as the older models with a greater number of cylinders. You know what that means… forced induction.

The move makes sense at this point in time, with future EU regulations bringing the allowable emissions levels down to averages of just 120g/km by 2015, and a long term goal of reaching 95g/km by 2020. Adapting early to these regulations will save Volvo time and money, and allow it to strengthen up other aspects of product development for the future.

Saab may have to merge with Volvo

March 5th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

Saab logo

In a desperate bid for survival Saab may look at a possible merger with Volvo, it isn’t the first time a partnership has been discussed. Back in the 1970s the two Swedish automakers were a hair away from merging 240s and 900s, but instead followed separate paths. Now, with both brands facing difficult sales numbers and uncertain futures, GM’s Bob Lutz thinks a merger sounds good once again. Lutz thinks it’d be a way for Ford and General Motors to both rid themselves of problematic business units. The soon-to-be former Car King from GM offers no insight about how the merged companies might actually start making a profit both automakers have serious financial issues. While Volvo has secured a promise of $546 million from the European Investment Bank, Saab is walking a much tougher path to survival.

Ultimately, a merger between Saab and Volvo would be great for their parent companies, but no one knows yet how exactly it would benefit the Swedish brands as they hold on for dear life.

3-point safety belt turns 50 this year

January 27th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

nils bohlin

The 3-point safety belt turns 50 years old in 2009 after first being fitted to a Volvo back in 1959.

It has been estimated safety belts have saved more than a million lives so far and they will continue to save over a hundred thousand lives a year.

The three point belt was invented by Volvo engineer Nils Bohlin and fitted to 1959 model PV544 and Amazon 120s sold in Nordic countries from that year.

If you are wearing a safety belt, your chances of surviving a collision improve by 50 percent. The three-point belt is and will remain the car’s most vital safety detail. However, even more lives could be saved if belt usage increased.

“What makes the three-point belt unique is that it improves safety for all types of occupants, in all types of accidents. In both the front and the rear seats. One often talks about the protective effect in head-on collisions, but the belt also helps prevent the car’s occupants from being thrown out of the car in a rollover, for instance,” says Hans Nyth, head of the Volvo Cars Safety Centre.

It is the safety belt’s ability to keep the occupant in the seat that is of crucial importance. A massive 75 percent of people thrown out of cars in accidents die in the process. All told, the belt reduces the risk of fatalities and serious injuries from collisions by about 50 percent.

It is impossible to put an exact figure on the number of lives the three-point belt has saved since the 1960s – there are no globally coordinated traffic-safety statistics. Estimates put the figure at just over a million lives. And many times that number have avoided serious injuries thanks to the safety belt.

In Europe, the safety belt is estimated to reduce road fatalities by 40 percent every year. Within the EU in 2005, an estimated 11,700 drivers survived road accidents specifically because they were wearing safety belts. The figure for Germany alone was 2000. Had these drivers not been using the belt, the number of fatalities in Germany that year would have doubled.

Corresponding estimates for the USA in 2004 show that safety belt use saved 15,200 lives and resulted in society saving 50 billion dollars in costs.

Ford shifting ahead with dual clutch gearbox

January 22nd, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The dual clutch gearbox installed in the Volvo S60 Concept that debuted at the Detroit Auto Show recently is now officially coming to Ford’s lineup. The Getrag-supplied PowerShift gearbox will be available in the new Fiesta when it launches globally at the end of the year. Like the DSG units used in a number of Volkswagens, the PowerShift allows full automatic control or clutchless manual shifting.

Ford’s first PowerShift is already available in the current model Ford Focus with a 2.0L diesel engine. This unit is a wet-clutch system like most of the current VW DSG boxes. The new unit set to debut in the Fiesta is a dry-clutch system that’s both lighter and more efficient. The 6-speed PowerShift weighs 12kg less than the 4-speed automatic currently offered and should deliver 9-percent better fuel economy.

Volvo joins Detroit three in skipping Tokyo Motor Show

January 19th, 2009 by Darren Cottingham

The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show is going to have to make do without another automaker, as Volvo has decided to save money by skipping the event. Volvo’s move comes after all three Detroit automakers decided to call in sick and be absent from the show, which is held every other year. Volvo, like the Detroit automakers, doesn’t have a major presence in Japan, making the decision not to head for Tokyo easier. With the fragile state of the global economy, the prospect of saving money is a smart move. Floor space, displays, plus travel and accommodations for employees can cost loads. GM spent $2 million at Tokyo in 2007, and though Volvo’s display wouldn’t cost that much, the total cost would still be steep.

No Japanese automakers have dropped out yet, but the lack of foreign automaker involvement could potentially postpone the show until 2011. Tokyo Motor Show officials will make a decision on what to do by early next month.