The Volvo XC60, left, is easily one of the best-looking models in its segment.
The Volvo XC60, left, is easily one of the best-looking models in its segment.

I recently prised the keys to our Volvo XC60 from the former Ed, Mark, who has heaped nothing but praise on this Swedish SUV since it arrived in our garage in June, so it was my turn to see what all the fuss has been about and whether the vehicle is worthy of the 2018 World Car of the Year title.

As subjective as styling might be considered from some quarters, I think the model has a great deal of flair and is a far cry from the previous XC60, which was arguably not the best-looking model in its segment, despite its global popularity.

In contrast, the latest model is a swan among ducklings and I feel that Volvo has finally found its design mojo and is penning rather attractive cars, as seen in the XC90, S90 and V90 CC. The new-generation S60 will continue on this trajectory when it launches in SA later this year.

But back to the XC60 and its myriad standard equipment that we reported on last month.

My wife recently discovered the front passenger seat massage function and, as you can imagine, it has proven a hit with her. It offers a number of massage modes and I feel she has become a much calmer and more amiable passenger since her eureka moment, which has left me to discover and enjoy some of my favourite aspects of the vehicle.

The ergonomically designed gear lever doubles as a wrist/hand rest.
The ergonomically designed gear lever doubles as a wrist/hand rest.

Minimalist

I am huge fan of the minimalist, Scandinavian design of the XC60, particularly how well-thought out the cabin layout and respective switchgear is. For instance, the golf club shaped gear lever is designed to rest your left hand on while selecting menus on the infotainment screen, which can at times be a bit slow to respond to inputs.

Being somewhat of an audiophile, I’m also thoroughly relishing the thumping Bowers & Wilkins high-performance sound system that seems to amplify some elements of your favourite tunes that you previously might have not discovered on other sound systems, such is its clarity and definition.

The standard air-suspension is a great boon on daily commutes as it manages to filter out most road imperfections, but on the flipside the nose of the vehicle does tend to dive somewhat under sudden braking manoeuvres, especially in either of its softest modes — Comfort or Eco. Sure, you can opt to switch to Sport mode, which stiffens the suspension, but it also sharpens the throttle and delays upshifts in the transmission.

The Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system will please audiophiles.
The Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system will please audiophiles.

I feel that an individual mode where you can configure the suspension, gearbox, engine and steering wheel weighting separately would be a great addition.

I do, however, enjoy the self-levelling suspension, which lowers when you turn off the ignition allowing for easier exit out of the car and is particularly useful when loading or offloading stuff from the boot. There are also manual buttons in the boot to lower or raise the rear suspension should you hitch a trailer or even a horsebox.

The engine is slowly loosening up with our fuel consumption figure this month finally dipping below 9l/100km with a best figure of 8.9l/100km so far. I feel a number in the high sevens can suffice on much longer journeys, so we will put that to the test in the next few weeks.

Darker hue

The tan colour seats are great in elevating the overall ambiance of the cabin, but I find that the driver’s seat squab is already looking slightly tattered up from daily use, so perhaps a slightly darker hue would be a better option instead.

That aside, as an overall package the XC60 ticks all the right boxes as it continues to feel like that favourite driving loafer every time you slip behind the wheel. It is good looking, comfortable, well equipped and one of the safest vehicles in its class.

Little wonder it is the current World Car of the Year and I have a distinct feeling it will be a strong contender in the 2019 SA Car of the Year competition.

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