18 Aug 2014

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 First Drive Impressions

I'll be driving 900 miles in four days in the Volvo XC60 so will it live up to its reputation as a refined, economical cruiser?

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux

This Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux in Passion Red turned up last Friday. It's now Monday and I've only driven 70 miles in it, mainly sub-5 mile journeys on a mix of A, B and unclassified roads.

On Tuesday my son and I will be driving to France, in convoy with Speedmonkey's Colin.  Aware of the importance of the new D4, the first of the Drive-E range of engines which are made in Sk√∂vde,  I wanted to see if it really is as economical and refined as Volvo say it is.

So far so good. After all those short journeys, usually with the hammer down, it's returned 37mpg.  It's got a decent turn of speed too. This car has a 6-speed manual gearbox which is suited more to smooth rather than fast changes - getting really nerdy it feels more like a BMW than Porsche gearbox.

The car's 295lb ft of torque is really felt in the mid and higher gears where the muscular swell of power means you can bring it right down to 2,000rpm in, say, fourth and it'll pick up quickly thereafter. Most drivers will be surprised at how fast it can go.

The steering and handling has been criticised by some motoring journalists but that's ignoring 99% of buyers who won't notice such subtleties. The steering is fine and it's pretty good at hustling, although you have to set up the car's bulk using road positioning, speed and steering angle prior to a corner if you want to give it the beans.

The only let-down for me is the fact it is front wheel drive.  I can understand why Volvo has done this, to highlight the efficient engine, but because it has quite a bit of power torque steer is an issue.  An e-diff would make it more manageable.  This is felt even at moderate acceleration so it's not just a journalist whinging about something that the typical driver would never normally notice.

The ride is mellifluously, wonderfully smooth. All those hours on Volvo's test tracks have paid dividends.

The interior is rather lovely. Volvo makes better interiors than the Germans and in R-Design Lux spec leather everything is the order of the day.  My son may be sitting in the back on the way to France as there's a DVD player in each headrest.

Keep an eye my Twitter account for pics and info about the car from our trip to France.  I'm aiming to do the entire trip on one tank of fuel.

Stats


Price - £35,160 
Engine - 2.0 litre, 4-cylinder, turbocharged, diesel 
Transmission - 6-speed manual
0-60mph - 8.5 seconds 
Top speed - 130 mph 
Power - 181 bhp 
Torque - 295 lb ft/400 Nm 
Economy - 60.1 mpg 
CO2 - 117 g/km 
Kerb weight - 1,816 kg 
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
The boot is this big. The powered tailgate scares the crap out of Speedmonkey Dog

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
TVs in the rear headrests

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux

2014 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design Lux
37mpg over several short journeys is very good

By Matt Hubbard