Talk about a tough sell. Volvo, the perennial alternative choice when it comes to automotive purchases, chose to launch its revamped 2012 model line-up in the same week that Land Rover was dishing out its new Evoque for test drives.
So while we heard about slight tweaks to trim and specification levels and wondered if the styling of Volvo’s XC60 crossover had changed even slightly from last year’s model, our colleagues were tearing around the countryside in what was rapidly becoming clear was a game-changing car.
Not only that, but there are other new and rather excellent rivals on the scene in the shape of the latest BMW X3 and Audi Q5, plus cheaper alternatives from Kia and Hyundai with just as much space and style.
Fortunately, Steve Mattin’s 2008 design still carries some visual clout, the XC60’s sleek headlights and sharp creases blending well with more traditional Volvo aesthetics. The interior is well screwed together and features good quality leather for the seats, but the rear is a touch cramped for six-footers and feels claustrophobic due to the rising window line.
Up front the “floating console” is still a novel concept and the switchgear is suitably tactile, but the tiny satnav screen looks incongruous in what is an expensive car. How expensive? Well, thanks to extras such as heated seats, load compensating suspension and screens in the back of the front headrests, the D5 SE automatic tested came in at £43,000.