2018 has been a good year for SUV owners so far.
We might be casting our minds ahead to summer now, but thanks to the Beast from the East and various other weather phenomena, 4×4 buyers across Scotland had plenty of opportunity to test their mettle against the elements in the year’s first quarter, proving to themselves once and for all that “yes, it was a good idea opting for a 4×4 after all”.
Volvo XC60 D4 AWD Momentum
Price: £37,205 (£46,200 as tested)
Engine: 2.0-litre, four-cylinder, diesel
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Top Speed: 127mph
0-60mph: 7.9 seconds
C02 emissions: 133 g/km
And as luck would have it, I too was able to smugly negotiate the snow-covered streets and country lanes earlier this year as a light dusting became a full-on dump.
The arrival of Volvo’s XC60 press car in February meant I was perfectly equipped to panic buy milk, bread and gin, while Ford Focus and Honda Civic owners were forced to choose between starving or freezing to death.
It’s been a good year for Volvo as well. Fresh off the XC40 winning European Car of the Year the XC60 went one better and snared the World Car of the Year gong for 2018 at the New York Auto Show in March.
As well as the critics, buyers are impressed, and the XC60 has already doubled its forecast figure for orders since launch while helping Volvo achieve record sales in 2017.
It’s easy to see why. The XC60 epitomises Volvo’s image transition from frumpy, boring and safe to stylish and high-end.The first-rate cabin materials, premium sound system and minimalist cabin design in our Momentum spec test car rivals anything coming out of Germany in the same price bracket.
And Volvo is doing it without the baggage associated with the Germans. No tailgating, non-indicating, motorway weaving stereotypes here. Volvo’s latest line-up usurps the territory left vacant by Saab for a thinking-man’s premium car. Think architects and art directors, not city boys and footballers.
It’s still nailing the safety bit too though and the XC60 was Euro NCAP’s best overall performer in 2017’s tests. Volvo’s City Safety autonomous emergency braking system has been enhanced with steering support for when automatic braking alone may not help avoid a potential collision. In addition oncoming lane mitigation with steer assist which helps mitigate head-on collisions and blind spot information system with steer assist functionality has been added to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions.
The XC60 is available with a range of diesel and petrol engines as well as a T8 Twin Engine petrol plug-in hybrid at the top of the powertrain range.
I tested the D4 car, which means a two-litre diesel engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox, putting out 187bhp and 295lb/ft torque.
The conditions during our test meant that I was unable to put the acceleration or handling through a particularly rigorous assessment, – traveling as I was in the worst snow to hit my area since 2010 – but there’s plenty of low and mid-range grunt on offer and the gearbox is smooth and quick to change.
The ride was comfortable too and the XC60 seemed generally unfussed by a road surface that alternated between fresh powder, pothole-fractured tarmac, slush and ice.
The two-litre diesel sounded fairly quiet and overall refinement was good for an SUV – a bit of wind noise was evident on forays out of the city – although perhaps it was just clouds of smug emanating from me as one of the few who made it out of the driveway.
Pricing is decidedly premium –£46,200 for our test car when you factor in options (£37,205 without) – pitching the XC60 up against the likes of the Audi Q5 and Mercedes-Benz GLC.
It has the build and material quality to go toe to toe with both of the German giants, as well as a badge which is proving more and more desirable with British buyers. The Q5 wins on boot space though, with an extra 45 litres compared with the Swede.
That said, the XC60’s 495-litre luggage area is still plenty big. More than enough room for 60 loaves of bread and 40 litres of milk next time it snows.