THE Volvo XC60 is a compact, prestige SUV which goes up against the likes of the Audi Q5, the BMW X3 and the Range Rover Evoque – so it needs to be pretty damn stylish as well as dynamically sound.

And it is. From the outside it’s certainly curvy and appealing – nothing like the boxy Volvos of old – with a stance that suggests it’s perhaps more “pumped-up family car” than an out-and-out off-roader.

There are 4WD versions available but the majority of sales will be of the 2WD variety to families who are looking for practicality, style, safety and great build quality all of which the Volvo XC60 has in spades.

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Available with a choice of 190bhp or 220bhp diesel engines or the performance T5 Petrol engine giving 245bhp the vast majority of sales will include the D4 190bhp diesel which offers plenty of power and is available in both 2WD and 4WD versions.

I’ve been driving the entry-level D4 SE Nav (2WD) and was impressed by the specification which felt anything but “entry-level”. All Volvo XC60s come with leather faced upholstery as standard along with cruise control, rain-sensing wipers, power tailgate, roof rails, rear park assist, 17in alloy wheels, Climate Control, 7in. Infotainment system with DAB Radio, Bluetooth with voice-activated control, 8 speakers, CD and DVD player.

Oh yes, and Sat Nav with European mapping and lifetime annual updates, not to mention a raft of electronic driver-aids to keep you and your loved-ones safe – all for £32,685 OTR.

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The SE Lux Nav adds keyless drive, the very smart Active TFT Crystal Driver’s Information Display, 18in alloys, Active bending Xenon headlights and some styling additions while the R-Design Nav and R-Design Lux Nav add even more styling goodies along with such things as bigger wheels, sportier seats and a sports chassis.

You’ll be paying £36,360 for the top spec D4 model but if you’re feeling flush you could go for the T5 Automatic in R-Design Lux Nav trim for £38,390 or if 4WD is a must then the D5 AWD R-Design Lux Nan for £39,890 OTR.

My car came with a raft of options, including bigger wheels, the Winter Pack, Keyless Drive, Active TFT Crystal Driver’s Information Display and metallic paint which pushed the price to a whopping £37,765 but to be honest, the basic spec would be more than enough for most people and offers good value for money when compared with most rivals.

Getting in and out of the XC60 is easy with the supremely comfortable seats being just at the right height to slide your derrière onto and once inside the door shuts with a solid sounding “whump”.

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This  premier feel is extended to the interior switches and surfaces too with a lovely soft-touch to the dashboard and door caps. The leather-bound steering wheel feels good in the hands and is adjustable for both reach and rake. In fact, the driving position is excellent with the manual gearstick being easy to hand without having to stretch.

The TFT crystal driver display gives the dash an extra touch of class and functionality but at £350 is an option you can probably live without on the base model.

The 7in colour display for the infotainment system is sharp and bright enough to read even in direct sunlight but it doesn’t have a touch-screen function so you are left fiddling with knobs and pressing buttons on the floating central console which can be a little frustrating.

I found it better to use the steering wheel controls to navigate the menus which became instinctive quite quickly. However, I think most people would expect a touch-screen at this level – even though it can mean unsightly fingerprints all over the display.

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Rear passengers get easy entry and exit too with plenty of room back there for 2 adults who will have generous head and leg room – much more than in the Range Rover Evoque and comparable to the Audi Q5.

The raised rear seats also ensure that the kids have excellent visibility and there is enough storage space for a couple of drink bottles. For £245 you can specify the Family Pack which includes integrated 2-stage Booster Cushions on the outermost seats, as well as powered child locks.

Boot space is good at 495 litres up to the parcel shelf and a generous 1,455 litres if you drop the seats and load up to the roof. With a flat, low load aperture it’s easy to slide those bigger items in too – especially with the optional Textile Cargo Mat which hangs out the back protecting the bodywork and making it a doddle to slide in heavy, cumbersome items (£100 option).

Driving the Volvo XC60 feels much more like driving a premium car than an SUV – just as Volvo intended. The higher-up driving position is welcome and gives great visibility all round but it’s the ease of driving that really impresses with very little body roll thanks to Corner Traction Control and a diesel engine that is forgiving in almost every gear. Noise suppression is very good as well as comfort levels being above average. A real pleasure to cruise in.

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It may not be as sporty a drive as the BMW and yes, both the 4-cylinder and 5-cylinder diesels can be a little gruff at lower speeds but I’d take the Volvo’s calmness, softer ride and practicality every time – especially when you take into account running costs. The D4 models emits just 117 g/km of CO2 and costs only £30 in annual road tax.

I couldn’t really find much to complain about in the Volvo XC60 as it did everything well and with a real air of quality about it. It feels like the fixtures and fittings, never mind the engine, will last forever. There are cheaper compact SUVs around – the Kia Sportage being one of them – but with this build quality and spec you’ll be very tempted to pay the extra.

VERDICT: *****

OTR Price: £32,685

Engine: 2.0 diesel

Power: 190 bhp

Transmission: 6-speed Manual

0-62mph: 7.6 secs

Top Speed: 130 mph

Combined Economy: 62.81 mpg

CO2: 117 g/km

 

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