A car that can stop by itself - preposterous, you say?

Well that would be the exact reaction you'll really get if we were say back in the nineties. In fact, I would have had the same reaction myself.

Fast-forward to early 2009, the Volvo XC60 is officially launched to the Philippine market. The intimate launch was followed by an experience of the innovative City Safety system, which virtually prevents you from rear-ending another car to avoid a fender bender in city driving (read: slow) conditions. A Volvo study showed that 75% of road accidents occur at speeds 30 km/h or less. With this in mind, the system was designed to work at 18-30 km/h to prevent low speed collisions. It detects objects up to 18 feet in front of the bumper through a windshield mounted laser sensor. If a shape 6-8 meters in front with a size approximately that of a passenger car is at a standstill or is moving at a slower speed, City Safety engages the brakes and reduces the throttle opening to get ready for the driver's braking reaction. If the driver doesn't respond, it automatically applies the brakes and switches off the throttle. The car stops for just 3 seconds giving the driver enough time to regain concentration before rolling on again.

Long gone are the days when Volvo cars looked as conservative as you would imagine a square librarian's car to be. The XC60 brings the sexy back with its sleek lines and stylish details especially in the rear end when the LED taillamps are lit. Minimalist cues are still prevalent to subdue whatever loud character it might create, as simplicity is the basic essence of Scandinavian styling. This car definitely got appreciative looks and stares from fellow motorists and bystanders.

The interior is a fusion of modern design, quality leather, aluminum trim and plenty of space. Both front seats feature electric controls for several ways you may choose, though do not memorize your settings. The rear cargo area is good enough for a round of golf for four, while the rear seats also fold flat if you need extra room. The automatic climate control system is efficient and cools the cabin quickly even if the car is parked under the hot sun. I did, however, find the automatic climate control system to a bit cumbersome, as it does not stay in the recirculating position even if you engage manual override.

The standard entertainment system of the D5 is also commendable, it comes with a 6CD in-dash changer system, USB iPod connectivity, AUX input, Bluetooth phone connectivity, 8 speakers with front and rear equalizers. It sounds as impressive as it, uh, sounds, though the T6 standard Dynaudio package should have been offered as an option in the D5. Additional features include a multi-information display, adaptive Xenon headlamps, parking proximity alert sensors, side mirrors that fold automatically when you lock the car and eight airbags that cushion you in case of a collision.

Under the hood is a 2.4-liter 5-cylinder commonrail diesel injection (CRDi) engine assisted with a turbo and front mounted intercooler which, on paper, propels the car with up to 185 PS of power and 400 Nm of torque. The five-banger diesel produces a wide powerband maxing out at 4000rpm and a generous amount of torque as the turbo kicks in at 2000rpm until peak boost at 2750rpm, which was great for sudden urges of spirited driving moments during my three-day runabout around the city. The engine is mated to a 6-speed Geartronic transmission, which is very well balanced for the torque of the engine, be it in the city or sprints out of town. It was good enough to be left just on auto mode, however the manual mode was quick and smart enough to rev match as you shift down to a lower gear.

Standard drivetrain for the Philippine-market is all-wheel drive. In the suspension department, the XC60 also provides a good compromise between handling and comfort. The front MacPherson and rear multi-link suspension combo offers commendable car control for spirited driving combined with class leading comfort. All this is combined with good stopping power, very good brake pedal feel, and almost all the safety alphabets you can think of: DSTC, ABS, EBD and BA.

The XC60 D5 is stylish, fun to drive and is definitely a worthy challenger within its class and the diesel engine packs a punch. Its only diesel competitor is the X3, which unfortunately isn't as comfortable. I consider the Php3.295M price tag a steal, considering class and the additional safety features that will give you peace of mind.

  • Make:Volvo
  • Model:XC60 D5
  • Engine:2.4-liter DOHC 20-valve inline-5 CRDi Turbo intercooler
  • Max Power:[email protected]
  • Max Torque:[email protected]
  • Transmission:6-Speed AT with Geartronic manual mode
  • Price as Tested:₱ 3,295,000