There are companies that make cars and brands that talk about cars so of course, there also such a thing as car awards. Big publications have their own while some are given by automotive bodies in certain countries or continents, and the criteria for judging is highly subjective. But there are very few that take on a global perspective, hence the World Car Awards which is a program initiated, organized and conducted by automotive journalists from all over the globe giving a wider representation to varied perspectives since 2004, offering a higher level of objectivity, credibility and integrity. Thus the vehicle that is bestowed with the title of the World Car of the Year, or WCOTY for short, is truly one that managed to stand tall above all others in that production year.
So when it was finally announced that the Volvo XC60 is the World Car of the Year 2018, it gave Volvo’s new generation of products their due global acknowledgement. It is also a continuation of the current global trend of SUVs that sadly seems likely to stay a while as the Jaguar F-Pace was the last year’s WCOTY award winner.
We say Volvo’s new generation because since they were taken over by Chinese giant Geely, the Swedish automotive brand has overhauled their product’s engineering and design language and in my opinion make some of the best looking cars in their segments. The refresh that started with their biggest models – the XC90, the S90 and the V90 – is now making its way down to the mid-segment models that have a larger audience.
The XC60 is essentially the smaller brother to the top-of-the-line XC90, but offers much of the same features and luxurious feel in a smaller package. Yes, Volvo has joined the compact SUV segment too with the baby XC40, but it’s time to take a look at some of the key factors that made the Volvo XC60 worthy of its WCOTY title:
From being known for extremely dull but safe family cars, Volvo’s newest design language is anything but dull. It is a striking exterior to look upon that follows the same basic principles as the XC90 – clean lines and classic proportions. The new elements include the signature Volvo headlights with the T-shaped DRLs which extend till the edge of the front grille, Thor’s Hammer lights as some call them. The bottom half of the doors are now sculpted with bold lines between the wheel arches with the prominent ridge just above the rear door handle that segues into the rear section giving it a powerful stance.
To borrow the vocabulary of automotive YouTuber Alejandro Salomondrin, the current generation of Volvo interiors are plush and absolutely delicious to look at and to touch. While the levels vary according to trim, Volvo does offer a mix of premium leather and wood too. The design is clean and elegant, Scandinavian characteristics that we love, with a minimalist dash. Instead of a central control panel with many buttons and knobs, the Volvo XC60 has the new tablet-like touchscreen interface in the centre of the dash flanked by A/C vents for all the controls with a small section underneath for a few buttons, retaining some of the analog experience.
The driver’s information display is also an all-digital cluster with various steering mounted controls to navigate it. It is still a rather premium mid-size SUV and offers multi-zone cooling while offering plenty of space and comfort both at the front and the back. Spaciousness is also a key highlight of the XC60’s interiors, particularly with the optional panoramic sunroof, not to mention the ample amount of boot space and the cubby holes.
The new Volvo XC60 features a Drive-E powertrain which has been built and developed in-house, all-aluminium engines with advanced fuel injection and boost tech to make them powerful yet incredibly efficient. There are quite a few tunes to choose between, the majority from the same 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol units while there are diesel variants available too – the D4 (190hp, 400Nm) and the D5 (235hp, 480Nm) with twin turbo and AWD.
The T5 variant comes in both FWD and AWD (front biased) options and offers 250hp and 350Nm of torque. Go one trim higher with the T6 and the engine is now supercharged as well to produce 310hp and 400Nm of torque with AWD but that reduces some of the fuel efficiency. If you want, there is hybrid version too – the T8 which features a small lithium-ion battery and electric motor along with the turbocharged and supercharged petrol unit. The 320hp ICE powers the front wheels while the electric motor supplies 87hp to the rear wheels, for a total of 407hp. Individually, the ICE can produce a maximum of 400Nm of torque while the electric motor makes 240Nm, which gives it impressive performance while keeping emissions low. How impressive? 0-100kph in 5.3 seconds for a family SUV that weighs around 2.4 tonnes sounds good. It also has a full EV mode if needed with a range of over 40km.
Best of Modern Technology
The new Volvo XC60 is brimming with tech, all of it packed into the new Scalable Product Architecture or SPA platform which is essentially modular car design. Multiple models, built on a scalable and adjustable platform to make it cost efficient and allowing more features in lower models. The XC60 can also be optionally equipped with electronically controlled air suspension, called the Active Four-C chassis for more comfort and better driving dynamics in all conditions.
It has the same top-notch infotainment systems in place as the XC90 as well like the advanced voice-activated control system for the central console, WiFi hotspot connectivity, cloud-based apps and Volvo On Call for any manner of assistance. Volvo is also pushing for autonomous driving tech and as such, the XC60 features Volvo’s Pilot Assist which is a semi-autonomous driving technology with capabilities like adaptive cruise control, keeping you in the lane with minor steering inputs, collision avoidance systems. Basically features to make long stretches on the motorway less tiring and safer.
Speaking of safety which IS and has been the biggest sales point for the families that buy a Volvo and that remains a priority for the Swedish carmaker. The XC60 has the Volvo’s City Safety suite of safety aids, chief among which are Steer Assist in case of emergency to help avoid collisions, Oncoming Lane Mitigation to avoid driver from suddenly turning into the lane and path of an oncoming car and Blind Sport Information Assist which works a lot like the previous one with a focus more on steering input than acceleration and brake inputs.
The brand is still working towards their goal which is part of Volvo’s Vision 2020 – no one will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020. Good on em.
Building on a Legacy
This is the second generation of the XC60. Volvo had introduced the first one back in 2009 which they claim was one of the best selling cars in Europe in that segment. So they knew they had to improve upon an already successful model that had its loyal customer base and that is what they did with the new XC60, which was first unveiled in production spec at the 2017 Geneva Motor Show.
The legacy goes deeper than just this one model, it goes to the roots of Volvo, to offer a car that is safe, reliable and durable. Now, it’s really pretty as well.
What do you think of the new Volvo XC60? Do you agree that it is one of the best looking SUVs in the world right now? Share your thoughts in the comments below.