It could easily be argued that Volvo’s XC60 is fast approaching its expiration date, though you might not be able to tell from looking at it. The XC60 has been soldiering on since 2009 when it was introduced as a 2010 model, and despite some of the underlying tech feeling dated, the XC60 remains a standout in the compact luxury crossover segment thanks to its good looks, comfortable ride (those Swedish seats!), luxurious interior and incredible variety in its lineup.
Okay, that last might be crossing over into a deterrent, with 17 variations of powertrain and trim, with additional packages, colours and options available to customize your XC60.
However, the focus of this review is Volvo’s new powertrain: a 2.0L four-cylinder that makes 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque courtesy of both a turbocharger and a supercharger.
A turbocharger and a supercharger!?!?!
What’s not to love?
Oh, front-wheel drive.
Yes, unfortunately Volvo’s advanced new drivetrain, which is the first of its kind in North America (though Volkswagen has had a 1.4L ‘twincharged’ four cylinder for European markets for some time), it is routed exclusively to the front wheels, and with 295 lb-ft of torque available at 2,100 rpm right through to 4,500. That early surge of torque with the supercharger pumping in air right from the first dab of the throttle and the turbocharger kicking in seamlessly as revs build.
On the engine end it is fairly invisible, but on the tire and steering wheel end, not so much. In wet weather in particular, the comfort-oriented tires slip and slide, scrabbling for purchase, and even in the dry there’s an occasional chirp. When the power hooks up, the squirming moves through the steering column as the torque steer tries to wrestle the wheel out of your hands. It mars an otherwise smooth driving experience, and creates another barrier in selling this new innovation and big power from extremely small displacement.
And as I said, the driving experience after initial acceleration is just right for this compact crossover from Volvo. The suspension is mellow and could be labeled soft, while the steering is light and easy, though with little in the way feedback. This is no driver’s car, so we won’t fuss around with dynamic assessments. It is a comfortable vehicle that is easy and relaxing to drive. That is a very good thing. You want dynamics? Consider the V60 Polestar.
The T6 Drive-E’s purpose is to achieve stellar fuel ratings while still delivering inspiring performance. While not inspiring, the T6 Drive-E is plenty fast, able to reach 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds, but more impressive is its responsiveness, always offering power on tap at various speeds. The eight-speed automatic transmission is tuned more for efficiency and smooth operation, so sudden bursts of speed do require patience as it wanders over to the right gear. The result is an official rating of 10.7 L/100 km in city driving, 7.8 highway and 9.4 combined. That compares very favourably with Volvo’s other T6 powertrain, the 300-hp turbo inline-six that rates 13.5/9.9/11.9 with the same acceleration figures even with all-wheel drive. In the real world, we saw 10.6 L/100 km in mild weather and typical commuting duties; that’s neither disappointing nor particularly exciting.