Volvo XC60: B5 a bright spark

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 8

What is it?

What’s in a name? Plenty for Volvo, the Sino-Swedish car maker with its new mid-size luxury SUV, the XC60, tagged with a string of descriptors to separate each model from one another.

Take, for example our test vehicle, the Volvo XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright: phew!

And that mouthful comes without mentioning vital specifications such as the powertrain.

In this case a 2.0-litre turbocharged, four-cylinder petrol engine, plus eight-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.

‘Ultimate’ relates to the trim level, B5 to the engine, a turbocharged petrol motor enhanced by a standard 48V mild hybrid system to achieve higher fuel economy and lower emissions, while ‘Bright’ (or ‘Dark’) refers to core design elements.

While Volvo is now owned by Geely Automobile, a major automotive brand based in China, the XC60 exhibits sleek Scandinavian styling, efficient four-cylinder engines and quality cabin ambience. 

Range-topping Ultimate trim gets matrix LED headlights, 20-inch alloy wheels, adaptive dampers, air suspension, head-up display, a powered passenger’s seat, power-folding rear headrests and a panoramic roof.

While Volvo was initially slow to catch up, a move to a longer five-year warranty and fixed-price servicing puts the XC60 on a par with the opposition.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 7

What’s it cost?

Apart from the Volvo front grille and Thor’s Hammer headlight display, the XC60 Ultimate is pretty much out of the standard premium SUV catalogue design-wise.

For example, the vehicle shows off pleasing, if not striking, dimensions from all directions. 

The Bright theme of the test vehicle is standard, keeping the same exterior elements as the core model while the Dark theme, offered at no extra cost, gives new Volvo vehicles a sportier appearance inspired by the former R-Design model by replacing the chrome accents with black elements and making way for a more aggressive stance.

Those out of touch with the latest tablet-style automobile info systems, may find the XC60 set-up a little testing to start with.

In keeping with the minimalist theme of the cabin the centrally positioned touchscreen is the key to control – buttons, knobs and dials are few and far between.

Persevere, people. The upside is easy access to no-nonsense voice commands.

With Google on hand to supply helpful features, star of the show is undoubtedly an optional Bowers and Wilkins 1410W hi-fi audio system with 15 speakers and subwoofer tuned to cabin architecture to deliver impressive surround sound for all occupants.

What’s more, the space can be transformed into varying room modes, including Studio, Individual Stage, Concert Hall or Jazz Club, via advanced acoustic technology.

Volvo has built its brand on being a leader in vehicle safety.

It developed the three-point lap/sash seat belt and shared it around, for example — so it’s no surprise that XC60 safety is five stars.

Features include assisted cruise control, auto braking and parking, lane assist, blind spot alert and rear parking camera.

A head-up display delivers speed, turn-by-turn navigation, and more.

The brightness of the display adapts automatically to light conditions and can be set to suit personal preferences.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 5

What’s it go like?

With its ‘driftwood decor’ inlay inspired by the natural forces of water, wind and waves, XC60 is a genuine five-seater, with optional nappa leather accented front seats including seat ventilation and optional 10-point massage.

A panoramic sun roof allows natural light to flood in, creating a feeling of space for everyone in the cabin.  

A word about the gearshift. Situated on the centre console it’s hard to ignore this genuine work of art.

A product of Swedish crystal glass manufacturer Orrefors, according to Volvo, it’s all about capturing light to produce a warm feeling for the user more used to freezing weather conditions.

Verdict: Tactile and easy to operate, it also works well in the Aussie sub-tropical environment.

Since 2013, Volvo Cars petrol and diesel engines for most markets around the world have been made at their Skovde, Sweden, facility. 

Asian-market Volvo cars have had their engines produced at the Zhangjiakou, China, plant since 2016.

The latter is the case for the XC60 in Australia with a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine delivering 183kW of peak power at 5400 rpm and 350Nm of torque at 1800 rpm via an eight-speed automatic transmission to all four wheels.

Settling in to any of the five seats on offer in the Volvo XC60 can be achieved with the minimum of fuss, none requiring a tall step up as in some SUVs.

Shoulder space and leg room also are up in class. 

Firing the engine requires a turn of a centre-console situated switch, and it’s the same process for shutting it down.

It’s a repeat to shut off the motor.

Typically, of a Volvo, XC60 offers comfortable, quiet and smooth riding, from the stop-start city commute to motorway cruising.

The mild hybrid system unnoticeably doing its bit for added performance.

Expect the XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright MHEV to use close to 7.6L/100km of premium unleaded petrol in the combined urban/highway cycle while putting out 174g/km of carbon dioxide.

The car’s active chassis with air suspension constantly adjusts ride height and adapts the shock absorbers to enhance stability and deliver a dynamic and refined ride with maximum energy efficiency at high speeds.

And on demand, Off Road mode can increase ground clearance.

Steering, especially, provided positive feedback, while braking – ventilated disc front and rear — chipped in with the benefit of ‘B’ mode, harnessing engine braking to feed off kinetic energy produced when the foot is off the brake.

Additionally, creep feature can help at low speed, for example in traffic queues or car parks.

When active, the car moves slowly without use of the accelerator pedal.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 3

What we like?

  • Five-star safety
  • Genuine five-seater
  • No-nonsense voice commands
  • Bowers and Wilkins 1410W hi-fi audio

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 2

What we don’t like?

  • Touchscreen a little daunting
  • Takes premium unleaded
  • Engines produced in China rather than Sweden

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 6

The bottom line?

While the XC60 is well advanced with present-day automotive technology, it’s worth remembering that Volvo aims to go fully electric in Australia by 2026, four years before it does so in the rest of the world.

While the award-winning luxury mid-size SUV deserves a look now, it may be worth waiting to greet the new era.

2022 Volvo XC60 B6 R Design 4


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Volvo XC60 Ultimate B5 Bright, priced from $79,990
  • Looks - 8/10
  • Performance - 6/10
  • Safety - 7/10
  • Thirst - 6/10
  • Practicality - 7/10
  • Comfort - 8/10
  • Tech - 7/10
  • Value - 7/10

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