By Lee Nian Tjoe
The first thing you want to do in a Volvo XC60 is to try and crash it. Because you know it is not going to happen ? not at 50kmh or slower, anyway.
The car is equipped with Volvo's newest and coolest gadget: City Safety. The infrared-based system brakes the car when it detects that the driver will not react in time to prevent colliding with the vehicle in front.
The feature is meant only for city driving, as it cancels out when the car's speed exceeds 50kmh. Which means you can probably use it on the Central Expressway during peak hours too.
It will save you visits to the repair shop, as well as the heartache of seeing an extraordinarily beautiful car damaged.
Volvo has done much to shed its boxy image and the XC60 is perhaps its most successful attempt. While the usual Volvo cues abound, the XC60 also flaunts a riot of curves and details.
Especially eye-catching are the rear- mounted LEDs, which really accentuates the car's trademark "shoulders". Extrovert colours are available, including a pea green that would be outrageous on many other cars.
The cabin is no less appealing. Quality materials abound, as well as Swedish ergonomics.
Volvo's signature "floating" centre console is now angled towards the driver and carries a silver trim. The driving position is commanding but not as lofty as a truck's. The seats provide excellent all-round support.
Its equipment is impressive too. The car has electronic parking brakes, which engage automatically when you turn off the ignition. A big colour monitor on the dash displays both navigation and a reverse camera.
The test car has Active Cruise Control, which keeps the car coasting at a set speed and distance from the vehicle ahead. A warning buzzes if you stray unintentionally into another lane.
|The Volvo XC60 comes in daring shades such as the pea
green (on top). And oh, the upholstery sports bold hues too,
for example, yellow-on-black and cream-on-brown. But
of course, there are safe choices such as a champagne
metal sheet and a black cabin.
Those drawn to its funky paintwork can go the whole nine yards by choosing a yellow-on-black or cream-on-brown upholstery. Shrinking violets can retreat to the safety of a more sombre black cabin within a champagne exterior.
Aesthetics aside, the XC60 proved to be quite capable on the road. It admirably withstood the onslaught of a hurricane- strength storm during the test-drive in Spain, although the effects of strong crosswinds were felt at the wheel.
The car's turbocharged 3-litre engine has a fat mid-range that complements its surprisingly nimble chassis. But when extended, it did not seem to pack the kick of 285bhp.
Its steering may not be particularly communicative but it is precise and obedient. On tight and winding roads here (made more challenging by the tempest), the XC60 was surefooted and almost fun to drive as it bit gamely in the corners.
The new Volvo is expected to arrive in January. Authorised agent SM Motors hints that it will be competitively priced. Good thinking, especially in these turbulent times.
|Vovlo XC60 T6
|Engine: 2,953cc 24-valve inline-6 turbocharged
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with manual select
Power: 285bhp at 5,600rpm
Torque: 400Nm at 1,500-4,800rpm
0-100 kmh: 7.5 seconds
Top speed: 210kmh
Fuel consumption: 11.9 litres/100km (city-highway)
Price: To be announced
Distributor: SM Motors
This article was first published in The Straits Times on Oct 18, 2008.
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