LONG TERM TEST: Meet our new Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design
JOHANNESBURG - Volvo's latest generation XC60 mid-size SUV has been on sale for around three years and in that time it's garnered somewhat of a cult following.
I see them in clusters, usually, at malls in plush suburbs around Johannesburg, generally specced to the hilt with large alloy wheels in T6 Inscription guise.
I can understand the allure of the latest Volvos, as the company has truly upped its styling game in recent years, and the XC60 is arguably the best of its current designs.
If you're in the market for one of the tried-and-tested German SUV models that are on sale now, but yearn for something different, this Volvo SUV derivative might be just the thing to bring in the new year.
I got in touch with Volvo South Africa to ask them why they aren't selling more XC60s, though, considering the fact that consumers in Europe and the USA simply can't get enough of them. To this end, the Volvo people said I should tell you, our readers, more about the vehicle so that you can decide whether it might be an ideal replacement for your premium vehicle.
Over the course of the next three months, I'll be putting this Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design through several paces, from weekly commuting to cross-country road trips. In fact, we've already lined up a trip to the Kruger National Park and if you've been watching my weekly videos of the XC60 on Instagram, you would have seen some of the specifications that make it a worthy adventure vehicle as well as a day-to-day car that will keep you and your family safe.
The test car: 2020 Volvo XC60 D4 R-Design
Standing resolute in its tailored Bursting Blue Metallic suit, which cost an extra six grand, and wearing 21-inch 5-triple-spoke matt-black diamond-cut alloy-wheels (an extra R19 750), it's to my eyes, the best looking modern Volvo.
Sure, the XC90 might have more presence and the XC40 looks more modern with its squared-off proportions, the XC60 just looks timelessly good-looking to me. It's a shape that, in years to come will age gracefully. Add the high-end LED lighting technology front and rear, there's this distinct, ultra-premium look to the latest XC60.
In fact, at a recent press event, one of the media relations managers of a competitor German brand commented on the good looks of a different XC60 I had been testing, but he also said that the car must have cost over R1 million in that spec. To his surprise, that (and this XC60 we have on test) comes in under R900 000, even with options such as air suspension fitted to it.
Plush interior: will it prove versatile enough
Inside the XC60 is finished in sumptuous leather and generally hard-wearing plastics. Some nice touches on our car include the leather steering wheel and leather heated seat option. The seats, while we're talking about them, are the best in the business, formed and sculpted to fit your body no matter what your shape may be.
Genuinely, there hasn't been a single person that's jumped into this vehicle, front and rear, that hasn't commented on how comfy the seats are. Things like seat comfort might not rank highly in a world where we're more concerned about posing in front of cars for social media and WiFi hotspots, but trust me, you're going to really appreciate the comfort if you do a lot of long-distance driving or spend time in traffic.
Gizmos & gadgets: Lots of tech to unpack
Our car also keeps things sane in traffic thanks to its high-end audio system and being Volvo, it's fitted with a Bowers and Wilkins speaker system that pumps out some of the cleanest sounds I've ever heard in a vehicle.
Considering the fact that some systems in premium cars can cost as much as R150 000, the system fitted to our car at a cost of R40 570 is a relative bargain. I would suggest carrying your favourite songs in a high bitrate on a flash stick when going for a test drive and to ask for a car with the B&W audio system on your test drive because it truly adds a level of charm to the car that you won't get in some of its competitors.
Incidentally, if you want to stream music from Spotify (your favourite playlist for instance) you can do so directly through the built-in Spotify app in the multimedia system.
All of the vehicle's safety systems are also accessed through the multimedia system, via a massive portrait-oriented touch screen. Unlike other touch screens, it's very responsive and it is accurate. Even when on the move it's easy to use, although I have to admit that the previous generation Audi MMI system with the swivel wheel and BMW's last iteration of iDrive remains my favourite in-car systems.
The XC60 is also fitted with a digital instrument cluster that can show you turn-by-turn navigation instructions. You can't customise the instrument cluster like you can in some of the German cars, but I find this to be ok because whenever I'm in a Mercedes-Benz recently, I can never stop fiddling with the instrument cluster to play with the various viewing modes. What you get in the Volvo is more than sufficient, it's up-to-date and it looks and feels high-end.
More in next week’s update
There's a lot more spec in the XC60 and I'll unpack more of the car in a series of weekly articles and a series of videos that you can watch right here or on YouTube. We look forward to answering any questions you may have on the vehicle, so please be sure to follow me on social media to catch all the updates on what it's like to actually live with a Volvo XC60 before you buy one.