Error parsing XSLT file: \xslt\FacebookOpenGraph.xslt First drive: Volvo XC60
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First drive: Volvo XC60

Date: 03 November 2021   |   Author: Sean Keywood

A facelifted SUV arrives - but for fleet buyers the biggest upgrade is still to come.
Standard equipment:
Automatic LED headlights with active high beam, 18in alloy wheels, power-operated tailgate, heated front seats, two-zone climate control, 9in infotainment touchscreen, Google Automotive Services (Google Maps navigation, Google Assistant voice control, Google Play Store app access, four years' data allowance), 12.3in progressive driver's information display, Volvo Cars app, Apple Carplay connectivity, wireless smartphone charging, 10-speaker sound system, four USB sockets, front and rear parking sensors, rear parking camera, collision warning with fully automatic emergency braking and steering assistance, oncoming lane mitigation, run-off road protection.
Petrol mild hybrid: 250hp 2.0, 300hp 2.0
Diesel mild hybrid: 197hp 2.0
Petrol plug-in hybrid: 340hp 2.0, 390hp 2.0
Equipment grades:
Momentum, Inscription Expression, R-Design, Inscription, R-Design Pro, Inscription Pro, Polestar Engineered
Eight-speed automatic

The middle model in Volvo's SUV range has been a favourite of ours since the second-generation version debuted in 2017, and now the time has come for a midlife facelift. Styling revisions include a new front grille and bumpers, while inside the model gains Volvo's new Google-based infotainment system alongside other tech updates.

However, it's probably fair to say the most notable upgrade for fleets is yet to arrive. That will come early next year in the form of a bigger battery for the range's plug-in hybrid powertrains (mild hybrids are also available). Volvo says the new PHEVs will be capable of a pure-electric driving range of up to 48 miles on a full charge, which will mean a highly-competitive BIK company car tax rate of just 7%.

For now, though, the XC60 is left with the same PHEV powertrains as the pre-facelift model, with an 11.6kWh battery offering a 32-mile range. This version has a relatively high (for a PHEV) official CO2 figure of 55g/km in the spec tested here, meaning a 15% BIK rate is incurred, which - although still impressive in isolation - is behind PHEV versions of rivals such as the BMW X3 and the Audi Q5, which both incur an 11% rate. The good news for fleet buyers is Volvo says new orders placed from now on will be built with the upgraded battery, with the one tested here now only available from existing stock.

The PHEV system comes with a wide range of driving modes, giving options to hold or increase battery charge level, or prioritise high-performance or pure electric running - however, you do have to click through two levels of menus to change these, which is a bit annoying. A combination of a 253hp petrol engine and an 87hp electric motor means rapid acceleration is on offer with the T6 version we tested, and an even more powerful T8 is available if required.

With the sporty R-Design grade tested here, the ride isn't what you'd call soft, but bumps in the road don't intrude unduly and it certainly isn't uncomfortable. The suspension also keeps the car nicely level in the bends, meaning you can corner with an impressive amount of confidence for a family SUV, with added all-wheel drive traction. Combined with the strong acceleration from the powertrain, helped by the electric motor's torque, you have a decent high-rise hot hatch imitation. Higher equipment grades benefit from a superb adaptive air suspension system, which offers a very comfortable ride while still keeping everything nicely under control when cornering. All versions offer good levels of cruising refinement.

As we noted up top, the main change to the XC60's interior is the introduction of a Google-based infotainment system. Advantages of this are the inclusion of superb Google Maps-based navigation, along with Google Assistant voice control, which does an excellent job picking up instructions such as satnav destinations, cabin temperature changes, and even some fairly obscure song requests, which we're confident would have worked very well had a service such as Spotify been installed in our test car -the Google Play store can be accessed to download various apps. On the downside, the system does feature some small menu icons which can be tricky to hit on the touchscreen when driving along. The facelifted XC60 also gets a graphically-updated 12.3in driver display, which is an attractive feature.

Otherwise, the XC60's interior remains a stylish place to sit, with a high standard of trim fit and finish throughout and lots of space. Boot capacity with the PHEV is reduced to 468 litres, compared with 483 litres with the mild hybrid variants - however, this is a much smaller reduction than we've seen with other PHEVs.

Overall, the changes we've tried so far only add to the XC60's status as a strong contender in this segment - and once the bigger battery PHEV versions arrive, they'll surely demand very strong fleet consideration. 

Volvo XC60 Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 AWD R-Design 

P11D: £54,920

Residual value: 37.8% 

Depreciation: £34,142

Fuel: £3,212

Service, maintenance and repair: £3,068

Cost per mile: 67.37p

Fuel consumption: 113mpg

CO2 (BIK %): 55g/km (15%)  

BIK 20/40% a month: £137/£275

Luggage capacity: 468 litres

Engine size/power: 1,969cc/253hp plus 87hp electric motor


  • Refined drive
  • Impressive voice recognition system
  • PHEVs incur higher BIK rate than rivals - for now