Old v new: Volvo XC60s compared

Old v new: Volvo XC60s compared
Old v new: Volvo XC60s compared

Like the idea of a Volvo XC60, but not sure whether to buy new or used, given how popular the old one was? Let us help you decide

2016 was the ninth year that the old Volvo XC60 was on sale. Amazingly, it sold better in that year than it did in any of the other eight years.

That’s an almost unprecedented measure of the XC60’s popularity. Normally, the sales of a car peak one year after its launch, two at the most.

Now, there’s an all-new XC60 on sale. Can it actually be as good as the old one? Does the new XC not just retain the strengths of its predecessor but also improve on them enough to justify its higher price?

Styling

Old V new: Volvo XC60

Volvo has wisely not gone in for a total redesign with its new XC60. The car is contemporary but also reassuringly familiar. Most of the changes are up front, with a more upright grille and sleeker headlights. In a field of aggressive SUVs like the Jaguar F-Pace and Audi Q5, it’s almost conservative.

Engines and driving

We’ve not yet tried a new XC60 on conventional suspension, but on the expensive optional air suspension the ride is comfortable and compliant almost all the time, especially at high speeds. Volvo claims it has sporty handling, but if you want a genuinely agile and responsive SUV you’d be better off in a Porsche Macan or Jaguar F-Pace.

Still, the new XC60 has good grip and its body is more controlled through bends than its predecessor, with no loss of ride comfort. Smoothness and quietness are much better in the new car, with both the 188bhp D4 and 232bhp D5 diesels topping the old engines on refinement. The new eight-speed automatic gearbox is a big advance also.

Interior and equipment

The old XC60 was never short of class for the money, and the new model takes the game on one step further. Its materials and finish are both excellent. Volvos have generally had an airier feel than the German opposition, and although the new XC60’s window line is a bit higher than the old model’s, there’s still a great feeling of light and visibility.

In terms of equipment, the only option you might want to bother with is metallic paint, as just about everything else – climate control, keyless start, cruise control, automatic lights and wipers heated leather seats – is included.

Infotainment

The old XC60’s dashboard was peppered with buttons. That’s all changed in the new car where most functions are operated by iPad-like swipes, pinches and scrolls. This system is much better as long as you’re stationary, but if falls down a little on usability when you’re driving. A separate controller and selection of shortcut buttons would make menu-flicking a lot easier, as Audi and BMW have shown.

Space and practicality

Unlike the Land Rover Discovery Sport, the old XC60 didn’t have seven-seat capability and neither does the new one, but it does provide loads of space for up to five people, albeit at some cost to boot space: at 505 litres it’s about 50 litres short on the class average. Still, it’s 10 litres more than the old XC60, and the boot space is nice and regular with no unduly large space-robbing wheelarch intrusions. Every XC60 spec includes a hatch in the central rear seat to allow skis or other long, narrow items to be carried.

Costs

Volvo has added over £4200 to the starting price of the new XC60, hoisting it to £37,205 from £32,935. That’s quite a substantial rise, but the new car is more fuel-efficient and better equipped as its pricing is broadly in line with the £38.035 Audi Q5 and the £36,425 Mercedes-Benz GLC. The Jaguar F-Pace and the Discovery Sport are cheaper at £34,730 and £32,865 respectively.

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