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Latest report: Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design long-term test

Date: 26 March 2020

Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design
P11D price £40,950
As tested £48,750
Official consumption 42.2mpg
Our average consumption 43.4mpg
Mileage 7,000
Options: Xenium pack £2,000; Intellisafe Pro £1,500; Harman Kardon audio £850; winter pack £550; convenience pack £525; power driver seat £600; heated rear seats £200; exterior styling kit £1,350; CD player £100; Tempa spare wheel and jack £150; metallic paint £675

Third report: Artificial intelligence

Many cars are selling now on the basis of their connectivity to the world around them, and to the driver and other occupants.

Cars may be offered with certain online services, such as Google searches, and other internet connectivity, and there has also been an increase in manufacturer- branded apps, downloadable to you smartphone and other devices.

Our Volvo XC60 comes with such capability, much of it contained within the Volvo On Call app. I have mentioned previously how it can be used to monitor the status of the vehicle remotely, send navigation instructions to the car after finding a location within the map, and activate a number of functions.

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For example, using the Volvo On Call app, you can switch on the lights and combine that with sounding the horn to help you locate the car at night when you're out of range of the key.
When at home, I park the car off-street, and on frosty mornings I can turn on the engine remotely from the app. It will run for up to 15 minutes or can be deactivated again through the app or by unlocking the car and using the start toggle.

On cold days, the heated driver's seat and heated steering wheel are also activated, as well as the defrost function for the windscreen. It means the car can be set to warm a few minutes before I'm ready to leave and is ready to drive away immediately when I am.

If it were a plug-in hybrid version, the climate control could be activated on a timer, or ad hoc using the app, and the car can be warmed or cooled, depending on the conditions, using the plugged-in electricity supply, thus preserving the hybrid battery for zero-emissions running on the road.

As a near three-year old model, the XC60 might be starting to fall behind some premium rivals when it comes to all the technology working together. For example, in a number of more recently launched products from rivals, when a route is set in the navigation, the driver can get a reminder to lift off the accelerator when approaching a roundabout or junction on the route.

Volvo doesn't have this functionality just yet on the XC60, and while I'm not 100% convinced of its value, as the driver should be aware of nearby navigation points that would also be displayed on road signs anyway, it would be more in keeping with the other technology on the car.

However, when the low fuel warning light is on, it will offer to navigate to the nearest filling station, displaying its name so the driver can select or dismiss it and find another should a certain brand be preferred for fuel cards or price reasons.

The car's optional Pilot Assist system remains invaluable on my typical long journeys that run into congestion on motorways. The car can monitor the flow of traffic, maintaining its position in the centre of the lane and keeping a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

The driver remains in control of the functions, but delegating some of the work to the car really does help reduce fatigue.

During the first three months of running the XC60, it has racked up 7,000 miles very comfortably, so it won't be too long before Volvo will be arranging its collection. But in the meantime I'll be enjoying the remaining few weeks that it's with us.


Second report: Business class continental travel

We will soon be completing our third month with the XC60, and so far it has been thoroughly dependable.

We don't necessarily run our test cars in the expectation that something will go wrong, but it is sometimes surprising that at the accelerated pace of life some of us run them at in terms of the mileage we cover, problems are absent.

Last year, when we ran a Volvo V60, it had more than its fair share of hiccups along the way, and most of them were not Volvo's fault.

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The XC60 has racked up several thousand miles in its first couple of months, including a trip across the channel to the Netherlands.

This type of work is well within the Volvo's comfort zone, and it has all the tools necessary to minimise stress and frustration, whether on the open road or stuck in traffic.

The D4 diesel engine produces sufficient performance to overtake slow vehicles safely, and when it all comes to a stop, the optional Pilot Assist remains vigilant for traffic movement ahead, and keeps the XC60 within its lane and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front.

The exterior styling kit, which is a £1,350 premium over the standard R-Design look, includes metal-look skid plates front and rear, as well as twin exhaust pipe finishers.

It does give the XC60 more off-road purpose in its appearance, although on close inspection the exhaust finishers are clearly separate from the pipe tips.

Better from a distance, perhaps, and questionable as to whether it is worth the money on the accessories.


First report: Hitting the sweet spot

There is satisfaction in hitting a sweet spot. I can imagine Volvo's UK corporate sales team was delighted when the XC60 D4 with front-wheel drive achieved 129g/km of CO2. Currently, emissions below 130g/km are beneficial for business leases, with a greater writing down allowance for tax purposes.

Obscure, perhaps, but in a sector where the majority of products are desirable, small details could make all the difference. The vast majority of the XC60's premium rivals only offer four-wheel drive variants, all of which have higher CO2 emissions.

The Jaguar F-Pace is offered in rear-wheel drive variants, but the CO2 emissions put it several tax bands higher than the XC60.

Of course, there could be a recalibration of the writing down allowance rules as the full WLTP CO2 emissions ratings come into force for cars registered from April 2020, but for now the XC60 D4 auto is sitting pretty.

Even the hybrid Lexus NX can't achieve the CO2 emissions of the Volvo, although it currently falls into a slightly lower BIK tax bracket because the Volvo carries the 4% supplement on diesel company car tax.

The D4 engine produces 190hp and is Volvo's own 2.0-litre unit. It comes
with an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and our R-Design model has steering wheel-mounted paddles to shift through the gears manually, if required.

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The R-Design is popular with user-choosers, riding on 19in alloy wheels and lowered sports suspension, and with gloss black window surrounds (in place of chrome) and other styling enhancements. However, we added the optional exterior styling pack, which includes unique finishers for the exhaust pipes, as well as scuff plates on the front and rear bumpers.

Inside, the R-Design offers a more modern look, with aluminium trim inserts, plus leather and cloth seat trim.

My previous experience behind the wheel of a Volvo before taking delivery of this XC60 was in the compact XC40. I was surprised at the more relaxed gait of the XC60, in spite of the R-Design upgrades to the chassis, which perhaps highlights how nimble the XC40 feels, as well as Volvo knowing its target audience quite well.

The XC60 is a more fully fledged family car than the XC40, and I have been pleasantly surprised by its ride comfort (for an R-Design on 19in wheels). While it doesn't encourage the driver to hurry on twisty roads, the XC60 also doesn't feel unsafe when driven with a dash of urgency.

Already the Volvo On Call app is making itself useful, as it is possible to start the car remotely and thaw the frost for a couple of minutes before leaving the house. The optional winter pack heats the seats and steering wheel while it is running, so the car is already warming up by the time you open the door.



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