Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E Review

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Introduction

For the longest time ever, SUVs were known to be fuel guzzlers, and there’s no such thing as rewarding this particular class of off-roaders with fuel economy incentives. But things are starting to change with the introduction of the new Volvo XC60 T5 Drive-E.

To stress how economical this four-wheeler performs on the roads, let’s just say that the government would gladly award a $5,000 CEVS rebate to the XC60 Drive-E, parked in the same band as the Honda Jazz and Hyundai Elantra.

And while the XC60 Drive-E doesn’t boast a full facelift, we felt it still managed to retain its attractive appeal, now boosted to a new level with the introduction of a brand new power plant.

Exterior

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As we’ve mentioned, the XC60 Drive-E probably won’t stand out if you’re comparing it with its predecessor. Volvo retained its sleek and curvy design, albeit the XC60 Drive-E being a crossover weighing close to 1,800 kilograms.

Up front, Volvo has adopted a fresh look for the XC60 Drive-E, where the dedicated daytime running lights are parked below the headlight assembly, as compared to it being located next to grille previously.

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Coupled with a new hood and bumper to go along with the headlights department, what you get is perhaps a crossover looking much more like a sedan from the front rather than an SUV.

Interior

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Because of its overwhelming size, the XC60 Drive-E houses five adults comfortably, with space to spare for the occasional handbags and laptop briefcases. And similar to the exterior, the XC60 Drive-E doesn’t stand out much from its predecessor, apart from the addition of a few buttons and features.

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Firstly, Volvo took the liberty to introduce a button overriding the economical Start/Stop feature – something which we warmly welcome. For the longest time, we have felt that this feature introduces more irritation and uncomfortableness albeit it saving that few ounces of petrol, especially when you’re stuck in a terrible jam or inching forward waiting for your turn at the lights.

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There’s also a new Eco+ button on the centre console, allowing you to opt for a smoother and more economical ride. Word is it that with this button depressed, you get to cruise as long as a whopping 750 km before your tank runs dry (on selected traffic conditions, that is).

And for the technologically-savvy driver, the XC60 Drive-E comes fitted with the new Sensus Connect system, allowing you to access the Internet (at the expense of your mobile data), and even stream music from Spotify to enhance your ride.

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Our test car came with satellite navigation, which is becoming more and more common in cars nowadays. The interface proved to be a breeze to use, but we still lament the small size of Volvo’s infotainment system when the GPS comes into play.

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In the comfort aspect, the XC60 Drive-E’s seats hug you tight when you enter the cabin – something which we believe is part of the Swedish company’s pride. Quality isn’t an issue here – the XC60 Drive-E still stands strong like the rest of its family line, with solid doors and impressive interior quality that can’t really be disputed anywhere.

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Out at the rear, the 490 litres boot may not seem to be the biggest in its class, but flatten down the rear seats and you will be rewarded with almost three times of extra space at 1,450 litres!

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The Drive

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With COE prices sky high now, the inevitable question now comes to everyone’s mind – if everything else looks almost the same as the old XC60, what exactly are we paying for here?

Beneath the hood of this 1.77 tonne traveller, you’d find a brand new 2 litre power plant, each and every unit of it manufactured in a specially-built factory for each and every XC60 Drive-E. Say goodbye to the old 4 cylinders and welcome the new turbocharged Drive-E engine, pushing out 245 horses and 350 Nm of torque.

This means that despite its heavy standing on the roads, the XC60 Drive-E is still able to propel you from the lights and makes overtaking a breeze, and is able to complete its century sprint in just slightly above 7 seconds.

And yet another attractive feature that might relieve your pocket/wallet would be the introduction of a new 8-speed automatic transmission gearbox – one of the contributing factors to the impressive fuel economy of this car. It was, however, quite difficult for the car to hit its top gear though – for the gearbox has the tendency to peak at gear 7 unless you push it a little further to rev up to the eighth.

Given its sheer size compared to other crossovers, the XC60 Drive-E isn’t exactly the most fantastic car to play with in tight corners at high speeds. Rather, it proved extremely comfortable on long journeys, even for passengers at the rear. Handling was reasonable, although we dare say the firm ride was thanks to the optional 20” rims available on our test car. But then again, would you spend close to $11,000 for these 20”?

Conclusion

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With not many updates to its facade, the XC60 Drive-E doesn’t really appeal to one by just a single look. It would, perhaps, take a ride or two for the average driver to fully appreciate the enhanced responsiveness, agility, and performance as compared to its predecessor.

And not forgetting the four-figure tax rebate that you would qualify for with this crossover SUV. We’d say this is, after all, not too bad a package for a car this size, with this power, and this quality.

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What I like:

  • Sheer responsiveness and handling of the car despite its size
  • Seamless transition between gears
  • Fuel efficiency!

What I don’t like:

  • Interior still looks too traditional to be attractive
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