REVIEW | The 2019 Volvo XC60 D5 is a plush choice

16 October 2019 - 14:41 By Bruce Fraser
The 2019 Volvo XC60.
The 2019 Volvo XC60.
Image: Supplied

The other day when driving home from work, I was once again reminded as to the potential dangers that menacingly lurk on our roads.

Within the space of three cars I came across a driver fully-engaged in texting on a cell-phone placed between his legs (at least that is what I think he was doing!); a second driver who had his seat reclined so far back that it was practically horizontal while at the same time totally engrossed in a phone call; and thirdly a driver who was busy driving his car with the one hand while with the other he was devouring what appeared to be a whole chicken. Yep, this particular driver wasn’t sneaking a wing or drumstick on the way home, for him it was the whole bird!

The only thing that gave me the slightest bit of comfort while sharing the road with these irresponsible drivers, was that I was driving a Volvo. Over the years the Swedish brand has become synonymous with road safety as they have put a lot of time, money and research into making their vehicles some of the safest around.

To highlight this point, Volvo a few years back made the pledge that after the year 2020 no one would be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo. While it is obviously a very good marketing line, it also highlights the importance safety plays in the brand's DNA. Take the XC60 D5 we had recently on test as an example. 

If I’m to list every safety feature this vehicle offers then it won’t allow me the opportunity to speak about some of the other niceties, but here are a few. As standard, one gets technology like City Safety – a term used for pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection and front collision warning with full automatic brake; driver alert control with lane-keeping aid and intelligent driver information system.

Unfortunately the vehicle's base price of R811,400 suddenly jumps to R977,750 – as was the case with our test vehicle - when one adds features such as the R-Design Premium Plus Pack (R78,750). It sounds like a lot of money, but you do get quite a bit of bang for your buck. The package includes features such as heated front seats, a 360-degree camera which is pretty cool, a sound system by Bowers and Wilkens, blind spot detection, LED headlights with the rather handy bending lights, park assist pilot, gearshift paddles, smartphone integration, keyless entry and striking 21-inch black diamond-cut alloy wheels.

Interior is light and airy and packed full of technology. Options list is long, however.
Interior is light and airy and packed full of technology. Options list is long, however.
Image: Supplied

Want to really spoil yourself and fancy a panoramic sunroof? Well, that is an extra R19,500.

Desire a smoother ride with the additional air suspension … then R26,750 is what you will pay. The driver support pack – that provides a heads-up display and pilot assist with adaptive cruise control – will set you back a further R25,750.

That said, additional packages are common cause these days in top-end vehicles and I guess if your pockets are deep enough, then why not? Drive-wise the XC60 is definitely one of the better vehicles out there. Powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged diesel power-plant (173kW and 480Nm) mated to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, it drives and handles as elegantly as it looks.

There is a nice elevated ride height and with very little outside noise intrusion, one quickly gets the feeling of being cocooned in luxury. The vehicle also has a rather large fuel tank (71 litres) which, coupled with a fuel consumption figure of around 5.5l/100km, means the distance between refuelling stops is increased. Particularly welcome if undertaking a longish road trip.

Like all new Volvo models the XC60 is stylishly minimalist in its design.
Like all new Volvo models the XC60 is stylishly minimalist in its design.
Image: Supplied

Also welcome were the super comfortable leather seats (which are electrically adjustable). In fact, the only seats that are more comfortable, in my opinion, belong in a Range Rover. 

A lot of effort has obviously also gone into the interior, not only in the materials used, but in the layout of the cabin. It has a certain understated feel to it – elegant yet definitely not gaudy. Kind of a "’less-is-more"’ approach with the dashboard quite minimalistic.

Two new safety features across the Volvo range are an SOS button for any emergencies like an accident and a separate button that links you to Volvo on Call for mechanical issues. Mind you, this is a Volvo, so I wouldn’t expect the latter to be used very often.

One last aspect that appeals to me with the XC60, and with Volvo overall for that matter, is that feeling you are driving something special. Not only does this refer to the refinement of the vehicle, but also to the fact that it’s a definite left-field choice for the majority of motorists.

Pricing: Volvo XC60 D5: R977,750 (as tested)

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