The SUV segment is the fastest growing segment of the new car market in Europe.
It would seem that the popularity of these kind of vehicles continues unabated.
Despite the fact that they often offer no more space than a family estate, despite the fact that though many are capable of some pretty arduous off-road work many never further off road than a pavement in Dublin 4 during the school run!
So what is the appeal then?
Well my own unscientific research reveals that as many of these cars are driven primarily by Mum’s they say that the higher driving position is very appealing, giving a greater feeling of security, as is the ease of access for kids.
That of course is not the full story, Dad’s like them too.
So this week I am road testing the new Volvo XC60 a premium SUV to rival the other luxury models from BMW, Audi and Mercedes.
Prices start at €39,495 for the XC60 D3 ES. The model on test this week sits higher up the grade scale and is the 2.4 D5 All Wheel Drive SE Lux fitted with the optional Auto gearbox.
Though not radically different looking from its predecessor the revised front and rear styling does freshen the car up and overall its a very classy looking premium SUV.
Attractive alloy wheels, roof rails, metallic paint, and those familiar Volvo family styling details make for a very attractive package.
Its distinctive without being brash. I like it!
The cabin is roomy and well finished though I did feel some of the trim plastics used for example around the seat sides could be a bit more up market in keeping with the
rest of the car.
The ergonomics are just about perfect with every switch and lever exactly where it should be.
The XC60 range comes very well equipped with the very latest in automotive technologies.
The list really is far too long to detail here, but in addition to the host of luxury and safety equipment buyers can opt for a variety of personalisation packs such as a Winter Pack (Heated seats, heated front screen, and heated washer nozzles), Driver Support Pack, Navigation Pack, Active Bending Light Pack, amongst others.
The result is that you can really order an XC60 to exactly your own requirements.
Powered in this case by Volvo’s excellent 2.4 litre D5 turbo diesel producing some 225 PS and in this case mated to the optional geartronic auto with AWD ( All Wheel Drive) this combination proves excellent.
The D5 emits a wonderful growl under acceleration and performance is very good indeed.
In every gear there is bags of power available for safe and swift overtaking, yet it cruises in top gear at low revs enabling it to prove fuel efficient too.
Over my 600km road test it returned an average of 6.3 litres per 100km and costs just €390 per year to tax.
The XC60 sits quite high on the road so frankly I was expecting it to prove a bit soft in the handling department. I was wrong.
You can really hustle this large SUV down a twisty country road and it handles with aplomb. There is minimal body roll in corners and the intelligent all wheel drive system provides excellent traction even on wet or greasy roads.
Its surprisingly good and impressed me very much. On the motorway it proves quiet and refined too.
The leather clad cabin is roomy and the load area is easily accessed via the electric rear tailgate.
The XC60 AWD D5 SE Lux costs €62,496. It really does deliver, proving rewarding to drive, a practical family transport, very well equipped with numerous optional packs available.
Its stylish and rugged and boasts Volvo’s legendary safety standards for both crash prevention and of course protection should the worst happen.
In short the new XC60 is a very nice SUV. If you are in the market for a premium SUV you need to try this one out before you make your final decision.