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Ample improvements to the XC60, including a more refined, intuitive interior and a smooth mild hybrid powertrain, make for a sublimely comfortable family SUV.

14 Oct 2021


Since the launch of the XC90 back in 2015, Volvo has certainly seen a stark shift in its overall image. Volvo cars used to be viewed as somewhat drab (albeit extremely safe), but the design language of the brand has most certainly taken a contemporary turn.

This 'new' Volvo is far from drab, with bold exterior designs, sleek and fresh interiors, and still boasting ample safety features. And, of course, the brand is pushing ahead into the electric future - by 2025, the brand expects one in two of its cars sold to be fully electric.

With that cleaner, greener future in mind, the brand is continuing to electrify its current model lineup, and is now offering mild hybrid technology in Singapore in the form of its new B-series engine lineup. We drive the facelifted XC60 B6 to see how it's like...

Freshen up

The updated driver display uses a more minimalist design, with the map as the centrepiece
The XC60 has undergone some light exterior enhancements. The front end receives a new bumper, air intakes, as well as a refreshed grille. At the rear, the key change is that the tailpipes are now hidden away. This, according to Volvo, is part of the brand's wider design changes that showcase the company's continued journey to all-out electrification.

While the design changes are subtle, they do help the car to look a little sleeker and more compact, even though the overall dimensions haven't fundamentally changed (the car is 20mm longer in length, but wheelbase, width and height remain the same). And, I think it’s a pretty good-looking SUV.

The XC60 features an Android-powered infotainment system, which is now simpler and easier to operate than before
Inside, the changes are more evident. The second generation 12.3-inch progressive driver display sports a new design format that's very obviously designed for electrification. In the reduced view, the numbers on either dial are removed, so the tacho reads much more like a power meter (such as on an electric car) rather than your usual RPMs. The dials are also halved, which then leaves more space for a very detailed map courtesy of Google.

Speaking of Google, the XC60 features an industry-first Android-powered infotainment system, with Google Apps and Services built in. This means that, yes, you have Google Maps, but more important you also get the Google Assistant, with which you can operate various functions by simply speaking to the car. Say "I feel like eating Spanish food for dinner" and the system will search for Spanish restaurants. And hell, it even has jokes! "How do you make a squid laugh? With ten-tickles." 

Voice commands are well-recognised and intelligently assessed 
The iPad-style infotainment system has also been simplified, with fewer menus to click through. It's designed to mimic a smartphone/tablet - different functions are organised via tiles (like apps). You can swipe left/right to alternate between menus, and even the sub-menu layout is very much like a smartphone (complete with the back arrow at the top left).

I found it simpler to operate than its predecessor, with significantly reduced functions that aid simplicity. 

Bringing it forward

The mild hybrid powertrain provides smooth and brisk power
A key change for the XC60 is under the bonnet. This B6 model sees a 2.0-litre engine paired with a 48V mild hybrid system. With 296bhp and 420Nm of torque sent to all four wheels, the car is undeniably brisk. However, more importantly, the mild hybrid system also affords the drivetrain an added level of refinement and smoothness.

That smoothness comes to define this car. The suspension is nice and pliant, the cabin quiet even at highway speeds, and driven gently the XC60 is really just a very cool, smooth operator. It's not particularly engaging or interesting to drive, but the entirely relaxing and comfortable nature of the car is endearing.

The improved drivetrain makes for a very relaxing and comfortable drive
Expectedly, the car also comes loaded with safety features. I do like the even more simplified way that Volvo has approached driver assistance. Where previously you had to toggle between standard cruise control and Pilot Assist, now you simply hit the cruise control button and it turns it all on immediately. I like that.

There are also plenty of other safety systems that help to mitigate collisions, such as Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision Warning System, but let's hope you’ll never need to test them out for real.

Point up

The updated XC60 brings a wealth of quality of life improvements, but it's the B5 variant that you'll want 
The second generation XC60 was a very impressive car, in terms of looks, overall quality and driving serenity. This facelift, with its simpler and more intuitive cabin operation, as well as the improved on-road refinement, is definitely a step upwards.

However, this B6 model runs into a rather significant hurdle - VES. This variant is Band C2, which means a $25k surcharge. That brings the price of the car up to $287,000, which is honestly quite expensive, putting it right up against the likes of your Bimmers and Mercs.

Thankfully, there is a B5 model available. Yes, it has less power, but 245bhp is still going to be more than adequate. And, because it's front-wheel drive, it'll be lighter and more efficient. Also, you're going to get all of the same interior and technology improvements as this B6 model. All that, for $39k less. That's the one you want.

Car Information

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Volvo XC60 Mild Hybrid B6 R-Design (A)
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Price

: $287,000

Engine Type

:

4-cylinder in-line 16-valve Turbocharged

Engine Cap

:

1969cc

Horsepower

:

-

Torque

:

420 Nm / 4800 rpm

Transmission

:

8-speed (A) Geartronic

Acceleration (0-100 km/h)

:

6.2sec

Top Speed

:

180km/h

Fuel consumption

:

13.2km/L

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