Text: Inigo S. Roces / Photos: Inigo S. Roces | posted April 08, 2013 17:55
Safe and Speedy
The shift of buyers from your traditional sedans to crossover SUVs is certainly becoming more evident these days. We’re seeing more and more manufacturers launching new vehicles to cater to this shift; some with new models in the pipeline with others expanding current offerings.
One such brand broadening their offering is Volvo, who have just released the 3rd variant to their XC60 model line, the T5. The T5 slots below both the D5 AWD and T6 AWD XC60. Unlike its stable mates, this variant is just front-wheel drive and now serves as the entry level model. It certainly goes without saying that any car from Volvo will likely be packed with safety features. This Volvo XC60 is no exception. It comes with most of features we know and love from the other variants and you can add those in as optional extras in case you do miss them.
It’s a little hard to distinguish the T5 from its much more premium stable mates. Only the sunroof is missing and the center skid plate in the back is the same color as the rocker panel as opposed to silver in the T6. Much of the styling remains the same, with just a slightly different 17 inch wheel design.
From the outside, you can already spot a few of the safety features. The headlamps are HID and follow the angle of the front wheels once it’s rolling. Volvo calls this active bending lights (ABL) and it comes in handy while turning corners. On the center of the windshield is the sensor array that helps the vehicle detect obstacles in front of the car. More on that later.
New to this variant is the 2.0 liter 4-cylinder turbo that makes 240 PS and 320 Nm of torque. It comes with a 6-speed automatic with a manual shift feature. The pair delivers power to the front wheels, governed by electronic programs and traction control ensure grip at all times. Independent suspension all around keeps the bumps at bay while keeping the car high over the rough roads.
Inside is an interior that looks more like a modern office than of a car’s. A color palette of brown, cream and aluminum create that Ikea office feel. The two-tone leather driver’s seat is electronically adjustable. It can save up to 3 presets for instant adjustment once you hop in. It even moves the seat back and the wheel up as enter or leave to give you more room to manoeuvre.
Ahead of the driver is the instrument cluster that features two easy-to-read dials with integrated multi-info displays. Everything from an open door to trip information is displayed here. The display can be controlled by the left stalk, allowing you to browse through vital information like the trip meter, real time and average fuel consumption, range and vehicle messages as you drive.
The four-spoke steering wheel just ahead of it includes remote controls for cruise control and the stereo. Unlike the T6’s, this cruise control system doesn’t include the Full Auto Stop system that can dynamically adjust the distance between cars when cruising.
From there, we move over to the center floating console. At the very top is the LCD screen that displays everything from the current track or radio station to climate settings. You can even browse through it to set the safety systems and other similar options when the car is parked. Like the other models, the safety system shows up like checklist.
The stereo has a slot-loading CD player for up to six discs. It routes sounds through 6 speakers. You can connect your iPod or MP3 player via connections in the console box. You can even connect your phone via Bluetooth to download, dial and talk to contacts, all hands free. It’s not as sophisticated as Ford’s sync, but it’s simplicity and user-friendliness is much appreciated.
Lower on the stack, are the buttons that control the entertainment and phone integration systems. Below it are climate controls that are intuitive and easy to understand. Simply press the corresponding shape of the human to direct air there. This system also features dual zone cooling.
Glance behind the floating console and you’ll notice a small space for extra items. It’s not much but large enough to hide items like a phone or small camera from prying eyes.
The second row features the same style two-tone seats as the front. On the B-pillars are individual air con vents for the rear passengers. The rear seats feature a fold down center armrest that hides cupholders and a small tray. This bench is also ISOFIX compatible allowing you to secure a childseat. Finally, you can also fold the part of the bench or the entire seat for a flat cargo floor extension.
Over in the back, cargo is kept in the area thanks to the load securing net. A flat panel can be pulled up from the cargo floor to serve as a cargo organizer. Under the whole thing are tools and the space saver spare. You can cover the whole thing up with the pull-out visor.
Around town, the XC60 returns an excellent ride and top notch interior isolation. The car’s comfort truly earns high marks, smoothening out some of the city’s worst potholes and drowning out quite a bit of the traffic noise. The 2.0 liter turbo produces quite a lot of grunt, making the car hardly feel like an entry level variant at all. There’s still a bit of lag on very low revs, but the turbo kicks in far earlier than most cars and picks up speed quickly. Our best fuel consumption was 6 km/L in the city. This improves on the highway with a much better 10 km/L. Finally, despite some body roll, the XC60 handles pretty well, taking on both tight and sweeping turns with ease and speed.
Of course, the best thing about the XC60 is the safety and this car is no exception. There’s 3-point seatbelts, up to 8 airbags, ABS with EBD and BA, and traction and stability control. Still standard on this model is the City Safety system. This technology looks out for obstacles in front of the car and stops the vehicle at the last second. Unlike Ford’s, this system works with all obstacles, regardless of the presence of reflectors or plates. Full collision mitigation is guaranteed from 15 km/h to up 30 km/h. Above it, it can only minimize damage but not prevent an accident entirely. Once engaged, it holds on the brake for three seconds before letting go again.
As much as we’d like to test the system, the thought of paying for a P3.5M vehicle is quite the deterrent. Thankfully, it came on a couple of times when we tailed a little too close to cars in traffic. Once during a slow crawl behind a Vios and another time when a motorcycle cut in front. We were already lightly on the brakes then and it promptly applied them harder for us at 40 km/h.
As opposed to its rivals, the Mercedes-Benz GLK and BMW X3, the XC60 serves as the more comfortable and sedate alternative. It’s leagues more comfortable than an X3 but may find itself lacking when it comes to handling, but it certainly won’t be left in the dust. It has higher clearance than both and should leave you with little worries when on dirt roads.
At P3.5M, it’s a pricey crossover SUV and not very fuel efficient at that. Thankfully, it doesn’t punish you for being a miser with the loads of power from its engine and quite a stylish exterior and interior to boast of. There’s also that City Safety feature which can certainly help your investment last a long time.