“Do you fancy doing a test drive in a Volvo XC60 Diesel D5 SE?” I was asked. Yes, of course, I’d be delighted, I replied, not having a clue what sort of vehicle it was and never having driven any sort of Volvo before.
Having worked my way through a fairly boring car history majoring in sensible familyorientated economical and cheap-to-insure estate cars, perfect for ferrying kids and stuff to and from school, university, music festivals, etc, I finally have a not-very sensible, but fun sporty soft-top, albeit a fairly comfortable four-seater one.
So, the next step was to turn to Google, where I discovered that the Volvo XC60 Diesel D5 SE is What Car? magazine’s SUV of the Year 2009 and boasts impressive comfort, durability, safety and class-leading refinement, which, in addition to the fact that I thought it looked good too, meant I was really looking forward to having a blast in it.
My first impressions were that it looked sleek and stylish, which was good, though I wasn’t entirely convinced by the lime green metallic paintwork.
Ever onward, however, I decided it would probably grow on me, unlike the interior yellow and black leather.
I know I’m being picky, but you know what they say about first impressions - they really do count, and that includes the trim in a car’s interior.
Fortunately, I really did like the shape – smooth, very aerodynamic, no sharp angles, with a nice cat-like slope from back to front, which is quite sexy really. Shame about the radiator grille though, which somehow doesn’t look quite right, but I digress. For an automatic, it was responsive and very smooth going up through the register, with no nasty lurches when accelerating hard.
It’s quiet too, and having driven through town at a fairly sedate pace, I took it out onto open road and got from 0 to 60 mph in a satisfyingly short count, though I felt I’d hardly scratched the surface of its capabilities.
However, common sense had to prevail, so having gone a good few miles on the A1, I turned off to test it round the country lanes.
Easy to handle and good round tight corners, the ride was firm and positive and, with quick acceleration, lots of fun. The conditions were dry, so I’ve no idea how it handles in the wet, but being a Volvo, with the marque’s reputation for safety first, I’m sure they have that covered. I didn’t get the opportunity to try the ‘City Safety’ technology, so will leave you to find out what Jeremy Clarkson has to say about his experience.
For my part, I liked being fairly high off the road; a position that offers great visibility all round and isn’t so high that it presents a mountaineering effort to climb into the driver’s seat. On a practical level, there’s masses of boot space, though it struck me that it might be a bit of a squeeze to fit three big adults in the back seat.
There’s also a slight shortage of space in the door pockets, and I thought it was a bit stingy only giving the driver an electrically adjustable seat. What about the passengers? It had a great sound system, however, and decent-sized courtesy mirrors for those essential lipstick moments, but I missed the parking sensors? Yes, there is good rear vision for judging where the back of the car is, but I did think that rear sensors would be standard on this model.
I’m no coward when it comes to parking, but I admit that I’ve got used to having such little luxuries. On a cooler note, the air conditioning was incredibly efficient, and having hit the heatwave it was positively wonderful to be wafted by cool air within seconds of starting the engine. The driver’s seat was very comfortable with great lumbar support and I really felt I could have driven all day.
I also loved the automatic fold-away wing mirrors which operate when you lock the car. There are also nice little touches like the LED display on the rear-view mirror telling you which direction you are heading (the pub was South West…) and all in all, it was comfortable, very quick off the mark, easy on the eye and a pleasure to drive. I remain devoted to my sporty soft-top, but this sports utility certainly made an impression.
Sue’s Volvo XC60 D5 SE, priced £30,945, was provided by Mill Volvo Harrogate, Grimbald Crag Rd, St James Retail Park, Knaresborough, HG5 8PY, tel 01423 798 600, www.millvolvo.co.uk