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the peterborough examiner Thursday, June 8, 2017
XC60 puts Volvo back in the race
First Drive: 2018 Volvo XC60
Brian Harper Driving.ca BARCELONA, Spain ? Volvo, on a roll for the past few years with fresh new products (this after a period of dormancy that had one wondering if it was ever going to regain its momentum once Ford sold it off to Chinese manufacturer Geely in 2010) is again serving up a long overdue successor, this time in the hot and highly profitable midsize luxury crossover segment. Nine years is a long time to leave a model duking it out with the best from Germany, Japan, Britain and Detroit. And, for the past few years, the first-generation XC60 hasn?t had an easy time of it, especially in Canada, not with the Audi Q5, Mercedes GLC (née GLK), Acura RDX, BMW X3 and at least half a dozen others running up the score. (That said, the current XC60 still represents around 30 per cent of Volvo?s total global sales and 25 per cent of Volvo Canada?s.) The second-generation XC60, which will arrive in showrooms during the fourth quarter of 2017 as a 2018 model, is the salvation the Swedish automaker needs, a volume unit to reinforce the goodwill already generated by the successful launches of the highly regarded XC90 crossover as well as the new S90 sedan and V90 wagon. For Canada, that means a restyled and reworked model equipped solely with all-wheel drive and offered with a choice of three powertrains. The 250-horsepower T5 turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder, the 316-hp T6 turbocharged and supercharged 2.0 L, and the 400-hp T8 ?twin-engine? plugin electric hybrid are all mated to eight-speed automatic transmissions. If all his elicits a feeling of déjà vu, it should; those are the same engines as in the 90 series lineup. The new XC?s style, while a cleansheet redesign, is sympathetic to the old, retaining its athletic, sturdy profile. But the changes are there, subtle yet plentiful: the taper of the hood, the character lines in the doors and the angle of the A-pillar, the more open grille, the updated, slimmer headlights and tail lights. And it works; gen two can turn heads in appreciation, if not desire. More pragmatically, as family-use transportation, the 2018 grows marginally wider and longer than its predecessor for increased cabin space. It may rain in Spain ? mainly on the plain, from what I?m told ? and it can snow in the higher, more mountainous elevations, but not in Barcelona and not in near-summer. So the new XC60?s noteworthy all-wheel-drive system is not being challenged this day. Volvo has supplied us with the T6 AWD, which is expected to be the big seller within the model range. And, of the three trim levels ? Momentum, R-Design and Inscription ? it?s the last in all of its sumptuousness that is coddling us during our ride. (The T6 Momentum starts off fully contented; the Inscription ups the ante with soft leather upholstery, multi-powered heated and ventilated seats, driftwood inlays ? stunning ? and other items.) On the outside, the tires go up a size to 20-inchers (P255/45) wrapped around eight-spoke alloy wheels. But the most noticeable addition to the test vehicle is what in Canada will be a $2,350 option: four-wheel air suspension with Four-C Active Chassis (meaning variable, driverselectable dampers). We got a taste of Barcelona?s abundant freeway system before getting spit out onto more winding secondary routes through the Collserola mountains and into smaller towns and villages. Sometimes the roads were narrow but they were mostly devoid of potholes and the like, which meant the Volvo?s shocks weren?t given much of a test. The same can?t be said for the lane-departure warning, which was adamant that the lines on the tarmac are there for a reason. It would?ve been nice to test a T5, to see how the base turbocharged 2.0 L handled the city?s cut-andthrust traffic. However, the addition of a supercharger to the T6?s engine and the 316 hp on tap was more than enough to provide the approximately 1,900-kilogram XC60 with plenty of urge when the gas pedal was given a prod. The four-cylinder is quiet under load and the turbo and supercharger mostly keep to themselves and cabin noise is blissfully (though not Lexus quality) hushed, even when cruising along at 130 km/h. It should be said, though, that the XC60 is more sport-ish than sporty. One does not go looking to chase Porsche Macans or Jaguar F-Paces through twisting valley roads. The Volvo?s steering, while well weighted, doesn?t provide as keen a feel for the pavement. It?s good, just not quite as precise when reacting to driver input as the truly sporting crossovers. If going Porsche hunting isn?t on your to-do list, though, the XC60?s road manners make for a fine longdistance traveller. The XC60 AWD will have a starting price of $45,900 in Canada for the T5 Momentum, while the T6 Momentum carries an MSRP of $52,200. Topping off the range is the $71,150 T8 Inscription. Option packages will inflate those numbers. Visit Driving.ca to see video of the 2018 Volvo XC60.
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