Our Fleet Test Drive: Volvo XC60 - 1st Report
30 March 2009
Author: Tristan Young
XC60 arrived in time for the last snow
|Category:|| Small 4x4|
|P11D price:|| £26,485|
|Key rival:|| Audi Q5|
Timing its arrival to perfection, our new long-term Volvo XC60 was delivered a month ago, just in time to handle the last of the winter's snow.
When we ordered the car, little did we know about the impending conditions, but we were immediately glad we'd ticked the 'winter pack' box. For £450 you get heated front seats, headlight washers, heated screen-wash nozzles and luxury floor mats. The first three of these make perfect sense, but the last seems a little odd, given the amount of snow on our shoes.
In fact, we ticked quite a few options (worth £3725), but with such a good starting price we didn't feel that bad about it.
Starting with a D5  manual SE Lux we added what we're rapidly considering essentials such as metallic paint (£600) and a passenger airbag-off switch (£25). Because of our great experience of Volvo's blind spot elimination system in our long term C30 last year, we also added BLIS (£650) , which utilises a camera fitted beneath each door mirror.
We then added a couple of luxuries. The £2000 communications pack adds satnav, Bluetooth, keyless entry and keyless start. While the £650 digital radio option with upgraded sound system was pure indulgence simply because I'm fed-up of listening to Radio 5 on low quality AM.
Already, I'm seriously thankful for these last two options. The satnav has helped me get to meetings to hand out the BusinessCar Awards all over the country, most recently to Manheim in Coventry and Autoglass in Bedford. And listening to Radio 5 with perfect clarity on these trips is a joy.
One option we deliberately didn't go for was the 'driver support pack', which is great for safety kit including lane departure warning, distance alert and BLIS, but it also includes clever (upgrading from standard) cruise control. Unfortunately, though, cruise control that varies your speed doesn't work well in the UK due to some drivers' poor lane discipline. In other words, you can be travelling in the inside lane of a sparsely populated motorway and find a dawdling middle lane hog. When you go around this driver, clever cruise usually has a bit of a 'moment' because it doesn't realise you're pulling out two lanes and don't need to slow down.
However, all XC60s come with one piece of safety kit as standard that is particularly clever, but we hope we don't need to experience. The City Safety system  attempts to stop low-speed (below 19mph) collisions by braking automatically if it suspects the driver hasn't noticed the car in front and thinks a crash is likely. The type of accident it tries to eliminate or mitigate is the 'running into the car in front at a roundabout' and those prangs in traffic jams where you're distracted and don't realise the vehicle in front has halted.
Having seen the system demonstrated on a test track, we already know it's worth having.