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The noble swede

The noble swede

From the land of the Nobel comes an SUV that's not just stunning but noble too. Vikrant Singh reports.

Think automobile safety and one of the first names to come to mind is Volvo. Think dynamism or beauty or aspiration and Volvo is nowhere in the picture. Now, you might argue that neither is Hyundai, but Volvo is a premium brand, one that competes with the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes; brands that one would give an arm and leg to own. It's completely Volvo's fault; because the company has not marketed any product in India that one could call sexy. Till now, that is. Say hello to the Volvo XC60. With edgy headlamps, Christmas tree-like tail lamps and pronounced design lines including a high belt line that gives the car a terrifically racy stance, this is an SUV worth beholding. It's well endowed inside as well. Fresh-looking and upmarket, it is loaded with equipment. Consider the two-zone climate control system, Bluetooth connectivity and SatNav and how everything from the mirrors to the seats to the tail gate is powered.

We quite like the Volvo's seats; the rear ones in particular. Typical of Volvos, they are large and extremely comfortable. The support for the thigh and sides is particularly impressive, making this a pleasurable ride. But then, the XC60 is totally focused on comfort, which reflects in the way it drives as well.


Engine: 2400cc, 5 cylinder, diesel
Max power: 205bhp@4000rpm
Max torque: 420Nm@1500rpm
Gearbox: 6-speed automatic
0-100kmph: 9.1s
Top speed: 210kmph
Price: 51 lakh, OTR, Delhi
On city roads and at city speeds, the Volvo is supremely comfortable. It has a well-sorted ride and takes light bumps and ditches smoothly, with very little filtering through to the occupants inside the car. Even at higher speeds, the car's bump absorption is noteworthy-only the new plastic speedbreakers and more prominent edges, such as deep portholes and tall manhole covers, get the better of it.

A word of caution here for those who prefer enthusiastic driving: the XC60 might not excite you too much. Yes, it comes with an intelligent chassis and suspension system that allows the driver to select from three driving modes, but even in the sporty dynamic mode, the car rolls and pitches, and driver involvement is lacking. Plus, its heavy and mute steering does little for you around corners. But yes, it does feel planted in a straight line.

The Volvo XC60 fuses good looks with comfort and superior tech
The Volvo XC60 fuses good looks with comfort and superior tech
Then there's the engine. The XC60's closest competitor is the Audi Q5 and while the two are wellmatched in a number of areas, the Volvo's 2.5-litre diesel just can't match the 3-litre powerhouse of the Audi. Not that the XC60 is slow (it takes only 9 seconds to go from 0-100kmph), it just isn't as smile-inducing.

However, as a car to own and drive and be driven around in, the XC60 has no equal in its segment. It is not only superior to the competition, it is also cheaper. It looks better, is more comfortable and though it isn't a lot of fun, this is definitely the SUV to buy if you have Rs60 lakh to spare.

 It drives itself!

The XC60 is a gleaming example of superior technology, especially when it comes to safety. Here are the main tech features that come with the car:

  • City Safety. With this radar-based system, the XC detects obstacles in front and automatically applies brakes when it senses a collision might take place. It also warns the driver about the proximity to the vehicle in front by setting off LED lights that get projected on the front windscreen. The closer you are, the more number of LEDs light up.
  • BLIS. The Blind Spot Information System uses a set of cameras placed on the outside rear view mirrors to see what the driver cannot and warn him about oncoming vehicles that might be too close. It's particularly helpful when changing lanes.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control. Unlike regular cruise control which only controls the forward speed of the vehicle, XC's system uses its radar to detect a vehicle in front and brakes to maintain a safe distance. This distance can be set by the driver. Also, when the vehicle in front pulls away and enters another lane, the XC goes back to its preset cruising speed. Now, that's smart technology for you.

Published on: Mar 03, 2011, 12:00 AM IST
Posted by: Navneeta N, Mar 03, 2011, 12:00 AM IST