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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

Last updated on: December 28, 2010 10:08 IST

The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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Utter the name Volvo and most people will immediately conjure up images of large and fast intercity buses and giant multi-axle trucks ferrying containers or coils of steel across the country.

Very few will happily yell XC90 or S80 with hands in the air.

And this is sad really, because the S80 in V8 form with AWD was one of the most mind-numbingly superlative performance sedans that money could buy in India.

Sadly the S80 with its brilliant 315bhp, 4Litre V8 is no longer available to buy and if you're one of the very select few that own one - thank your stars!

The XC90 has had slightly better success rate and is a fairly capable and comfortable seven-seat luxury SUV.

It even did a fair bit of posing for the camera in the hilarious Hindi flick - 3 Idiots.

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Image: Volvo XC60.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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But it's still very rare to spot a Volvo automobile in a luxury parking lot. And this angers some of us.

Simply because we quite firmly believe that Volvo make some absolutely slickly designed, safe and comfortable cars which are let down by a very small sales & service network for these excellent automobiles.

And this has to be fixed really quickly if this Swedish brand has to leapfrog into the consumers mind as an established luxury-car player.

Even more importantly the XC60 is here, and it's a crossover that deserves to do well.

Yes, it may be bang smack in the middle of the premium five-seat SUV race here, but in the true sense the XC60 is a compact crossover SUV internationally based on a car platform, and that's no bad thing considering that it'll be spending most of its time on tarmac, just like most of its direct competitors.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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The XC60 was first unveiled in production form at the 2008 Geneva Motor show and has seen a fair amount of success in Europe and the North American markets post its launch there.

The XC60 shares quite of bit of technology with the Land Rover Freelander of 2007, using a modified version of the Volvo Y20 platform.

The Land Rover Discovery 4/LR3 has had quite a bit of engineering and tuning done by Volvo in Sweden, with only off-road capabilities being sorted out by Land Rover in England.

So right from the word 'go' you know that the XC60 is made of some tough stuff!

And to make it look even better and sportier an R-Design variant of the XC60 was launched a few months ago, featuring a color-matching body kit, stiffer chassis and damping, and other unique exterior/interior trim.

Design was a top priority and the XC60 has turned out to be quite a looker!

This 5-door compact crossover SUV has really muscular and sculpted lines when viewed from the side and has exceptionally broad shoulders.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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The large wheels, the bulging wheel arches and the fairly aggressive front won't let you mistake the XC60 for anything else than a modern Volvo.

It will instantly appeal to relatively affluent, urban middle-class buyers who want something dynamic, safe, sporty and packs in premium quality features and materials.

The design at the rear is characterised by those heavily stylized tail lamps with micro-optics and LED technology which not only light up faster than regular bulbs but also flash rapidly in pulses during panic braking situations, so the driver behind can respond faster.

There are also those amazing optional 19" alloy wheels wearing meaty 235/50 R19 rubber.

These dark grey split-rim alloys called Achilles Wheels, as pictured on our Terra Bronze metallic Press Demonstrator, look drop dead gorgeous and we really do think that they're worth the extra money you'll spend over the stock 17"inch alloys which are standard fare.

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Image: The wheel.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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We think the XC60 looks absolutely brilliant from any angle you look at it, but we just love the rear three-quarters and the dynamism of the overall design.

Gone are the boxy Volvos of yore. Say hello to the good looking and sensuous Volvos of today.

And it's a good thing the rear end is so good looking - because that's probably the only view most people will see when you pass them in a blur.

We also do quite like the fact that the XC60 is available in some rather interesting colours.

We really think the XC60 looks fantastic and very distinctive in Flamenco Red and our favourite of the bunch, the Terra Bronze (as pictured).

However, if you want something a little more sober, there's seven more paint shades to choose from.

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Image: Side view of Volvo XC60.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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There's Cosmic White metallic, Silver metallic, Seashell metallic, Ice white, Seville Grey metallic, Black Sapphire metallic and a Barents Blue metallic.

The advantage of picking the Bronze or the Red, is that the car's character lines really do quite stand out and make it look just so much better than a white or a silver, which might just tend to flatten some of the brilliant design lines.

Interior design is simply quite different in a Volvo.

And it's a very refreshing different! If you're used to seeing them, you'll find them familiar, otherwise the 'floating' centre console is quite a design treat and houses extremely functional buttons and controls.

The cabin has a nice mix of new-age meets clean classic lines, and it really has got aesthetic appeal by the truck-load.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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Everything in the interior is driver-oriented and has been ergonomically designed down to the last detail.

The centre console is slightly angled towards the driver to enhance driver dynamics and really does make you feel like the whole car is designed around the driver - just the way it should be!

The three-split (40/20/40) rear seat and backrest offer two separate seats with an armrest in the middle, or three seats with three-point seat belts for each occupant.

The seat cushions are fixed and the backrest(s) can be individually folded.

The XC60 gets power seats for the driver and passenger and the driver's seat features a Memory function (for 3 drivers) as well.

If you've got very tall front passengers upfront, rear legroom could just be a little tight, but otherwise it's quite a comfortable place to be.

Seating is quite upright and the seats have just the right amount of bolstering and support in the right places.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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There's an optional Dual Rear Seat Entertainment DVD package which packs in two 7" screens behind the front headrests and there's wireless headphones too for the rear passengers - very useful to keep the kids entertained on those long trips.

The interior of the XC60 can be had in four high-quality themes.

Whatever theme you do pick, you're guaranteed of the fact that you'll be more than happy with the quality of materials, the very well chosen textures and the pleasantly harmonious interior trim options.

There are four basic interior themes - an Offblack & Soft Beige, OffBlack, Soft Beige & Espresso Brown and Soft Beige.

We really do like the way the Offblack & Soft Beige interiors look with the large sporty 'X' theme in the seats in Beige with the Black as contrast.

There are also four different Steering wheel trim options with matching Gear shifters and three interior trims.

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Image: The rear seats.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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There is a Nordic Light Oak, Brushed Aluminium and a Classic wood trim.

Our press demonstrator came with the Nordic Light Oak trim on the centre console which houses the very 'Volvo' controls for the climate control and the audio / telephony kit.

It's one of the neatest centre-stacks in the business and is extremely intuitive to use, even for first-timers.

So what's standard interior kit on the car you ask?

Well there's power everything you can think of, including a segment exclusive powered rear tailgate (for the 495litre boot) and luxury leather interiors.

There's standard 8-speaker audio kit with USB & Aux-In, Bluetooth support, Telephony, Dual-Zone climate control (goes down to a chilling 13degrees C), Cruise Control, Park Assist and a gargantuan list of active & passive Safety kit in true Volvo tradition (more on that in the next section).

So what are the interesting interior options to pick, then?

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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Well, there's a 12-speaker high end Audio kit (with Dynaudio Dolby Prologic 5.1), Rear Seat Entertainment Package, Panoramic Sunroof, Keyless Start with the Personal Car Communicator package, the in-dash Navigation kit powered by Garmin and the Reverse Camera.

But even if you do decide to opt for just the standard interior-kit and not raid the huge options list, you won't feel short-changed at all.

So what do you get apart from the swoopy, sexy exterior and the classy, comfortable five-seat interior?

You've guessed it - plenty of safety firsts!

Volvo really has been synonymous with safety over the last few decades and they've only upped the ante with the kit in the XC60.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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The XC60 includes traditional Volvo safety features including a whiplash protection system, side impact protection system, roll stability control, dynamic stability and traction control, inflatable curtain airbags, hill descent control, collision warning with brake support, active bi-xenon lights that turn with the steering, and patented front, side, and rear structures which make the XC60 passenger compartment safer for its rear occupants.

On the options list for the XC60 are a Collision Warning System with Auto Brake.

This system alerts the driver if the distance to a vehicle ahead suddenly decreases and can help the driver avoid a collision.

There's also Adaptive Cruise Control (the radar is housed in the front grille) which helps the driver to maintain a safe distance with the vehicle in front at speeds over 30kmph and then there's Driver Alert Control which can detect and alert tired and distracted drivers.

Even though the XC60 comes standard with convex-edges on both side-view mirrors (we love that!) they also offer the Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) which can be useful.

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The one we're not too sure about, thanks to the irregular road markings in India, is the Lane Departure Warning system which alerts the driver if the vehicle runs across the lane markers without the turn indicators being used.

It works like a charm abroad thanks to consistent and standardized road markings, but it may be of little use here.

The XC60 also has a new technology feature that Volvo has quite aptly named City Safety and is standard on the XC60.

The system can be best described as a driver support system with the goal of preventing or mitigating vehicle-on-vehicle collisions below 30kph.

It does so through the use of an Infrared laser Sensor mounted on the top of the windscreen that keeps track of the vehicle ahead and that helps determine whether a collision is imminent.

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Volvo say that plenty of research data states that 75% of all collisions occur upto speeds of 30kmph and City Safety reduces the chances of collision in urban traffic conditions which is essentially stop and start.

So if you're below 16kpmh and don't hit the brakes when you're suppossed to, the City Safety automatically brakes for you to a total stop.

But at speeds of about 30kmph, it can only help reduce the impact of the collision and may not be able to avoid it completely.

In fact, City Safety has been so well received in Europe that several Insurance companies are considering incentives or discounts to lower their sky-high premiums for cars equipped with such ground-breaking technology that can reduce accidents.

And as a first ever in India, Reliance General Insurance is offering a 60 per cent insurance rebate on the XC60's insurance premium and this isn't just a sales-promotion scheme, we are told, but is here to stay.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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We tried out City Safety thrice and it was an unreal experience, but very effective!

The car brakes automatically inches away from rear-ending another car and tells you that it has stopped with a 'City Safety' message in the instrument cluster, but you do need to put your foot on the brake pedal just immediately after that, to prevent further roll-on.

There's also the Roll Over protection system (ROPS) prevents the car from of course, rolling over.

Volvo's ROPS is activated by a gyroscope that monitors the vehicle's leaning angle.

The safety belt pre-tensioners are activated at every seat to help keep occupants more securely restrained.

At the same time, the inflatable curtain (IC) deploys and remains inflated for several seconds to help provide extended protection. Extra protection is provided to the driver with the collapsible steering column.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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The steering column is an advanced part of the safety system, with the upper and lower sections giving way in a controlled manner in a frontal impact to reduce the risk of injury to the driver.

It also works with the airbag to provide optimum protection.

And being a Volvo, it has to meet the most stringent of crash-test norms - in this case the EuroNCAP.

The XC60 was evaluated in 2008, and was awarded 5 on 5 stars for adult occupant protection and the XC60 scored 16 of 16 points in the front-end collision test and 16 of 16 in the side-impact test.

In all, including several other tests, the XC60 received a total of 37 on 37 points and therefore gets a EuroNCAP Five Star rating.

The Volvo XC60 is available with only one powertrain package for the Indian market. And it's a sensible one at that!

We get the well-established (Euro5 compliant) 2.4-litre D5 diesel.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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This five-cylinder, twin-turbo diesel engine produces 205bhp and a fairly meaty 420Nm of torque - which is the figure that really counts here!

Crank up the diesel and there is the traditional diesel clatter at start-up, but once its warmed up you'll probably get addicted to listening to the turbochargers whistle away, if you've got your windows rolled down and are going through the twisties at full song.

At low revs, there's a low pressure turbocharger that gives you quicker acceleration off the line.

Higher through the rev-range, theres a high pressure turbocharger that seamlessly takes over to provide very linear power delivery to enable quick and fuss-free overtaking.

There's a distinctive and fairly pleasant burble from the engine which is quite audible when accelerating hard, but it's never intrusive.

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With the windows wound up at cruising speed, you can barely tell what's under the hood, but it's only when you floor it hard (or when you tank it up!), do you realise there's a diesel under the bonnet.

Plenty of the confidence comes from the array of electronics that keep things under check but there's also the fourth-generation Haldex All Wheel Drive (AWD) system that ensures that there's always plenty of grip where it's needed, and more importantly when it's needed.

Although 95 per cent of the power is usually sent to the front wheels, the Instant Traction logic ensures that upto 50 per cent of power can be transferred immediately to any wheel when necessary.

The XC60 comes with Volvo's 6-speed Automatic 'Geartronic' transmission and the box felt much faster that we thought it would be, with 'manual' downshifts being almost instant.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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However we'll wait for the in-gear timings when we put the XC60 through a full performance test.

Volvo claims a fuel efficiency of close to 13.5kpl and the XC60 has a 70litre fuel tank.

So, assuming you get 12kpl, that's still a very usable 800 kilometres of range.

The XC60 has all the right elements to make it a brilliant handler from the word go.

Take for example the Chassis which has high torsional rigidity and the multi-link rear suspension setup that counteracts any tendancy to understeer, enhancing stability.

The semi-active front suspension setup uses McPherson struts with dampers from Monroe-Ohlin which are continuously monitored and adjusted providing the right damping and rebound characteristics.

The rack and pinion steering provides for plenty of feel, but credit also has to go to the prodigious rubber our press demonstrator was wearing - 235/50 R19's.

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Turn in is very crisp and with very well controlled body roll, you really don't feel like you're strapped into an SUV.

Talking of cornering, those powerful Turn-with-steering Xenon headlights do make fairly light work of night driving and their ability to 'see' around corners do make taking tight corners at night, a lot safer.

You immediately realise just how much of a difference they make when you step into another car and try the same corner with regular lights, and wonder why other carmakers don't offer such safety technology as standard in India.

Things get better when you push a few buttons on the centre console. Volvo has (as standard) what they call, the 4C in the XC60. The Continously Controlled Chassis Concept essentially has three modes that you can select from - Comfort, Sport and  Advanced.

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For most conditions, Comfort is the ideal setting to choose and ensures better ride quality.

Hit Sport, and the handling does quite noticeably sharpen up. But for crisper turn-in and for some serious driving fun, hit the Advanced button.

The 4C System interacts with the Dynamic Stability & Traction Control system, the engine, the super advanced (and beefy) brakes and the steering to effectively deliver the chosen handling style.

The XC60 is also equipped with a Hill Descent Control System that controls vehicle speed even at 45 degree inclines and works both in forward and reverse motion.

The XC60 has plenty of standard safety kit and drives really well. It's got several segment-first features and is as contemporary as can be.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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It really takes the benchmarks in this segment a notch higher, considering all the tech that's packed into the vehicle.

Volvo have also priced the XC60 fairly competitively at Rs 39.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) and Rs 41.41 lakhs (ex-showroom, Mumbai, inclusive of octroi).

This puts it bang smack between vehicles like the Freelander2 and the Montero on one hand and right in the X3 and Q5 territory.

It has, as a product, the ammunition to take the competition head on.

However, Volvo's sales and service is present only in seven cities - New Delhi, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Coimbatore, Hyderabad, Kochi and Pune.

They are expanding to Ahmedabad and Jaipur soon, and hopefully to Kolkata and Bengaluru as well.

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All Volvos carry a 2 year / 60,000kms free service (inclusive of consumables and labour) and their 2year / unlimited kms warranty (except the tyres) is also something that we think is a step forward in the right direction to gaining customer confidence.

The Volvo XC60 will be imported into India as a CBU (Completely Built Unit) from the company's manufacturing facility in Ghent, Belgium, so you can customise it to your heart's content from their huge catalogue of options.

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The stunning Volvo XC60 at Rs 39.5 lakh

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Volvo India told us that their first batch of XC60s have already been pre-booked, and that's good to hear, since Volvo has been known for building some great cars and their safety innovations.

Clearly the XC60 more than XCeeds expectations as a product.

Question is, will this be XCiting times ahead for this reputed Swede manufacturer in India?

We certainly hope so, because these lovely Swedes really do deserve far more homes than they currently occupy in India.

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Image: City Safety on the XC60 at work.

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