Launch Drive: 2015 Volvo V60 CC

Launch Drive: 2015 Volvo V60 CC

Swedish car maker Volvo is going through a revitalisation period as it looks to streamline its line-up.

The entry-level models will be called the 40 and will comprise the V40, V40 CC (Cross Country), and forthcoming XC40 crossover. A higher rung up will be the 60 line-up consisting of the S60, V60, V60 CC and the XC60. Then at the upper echelons of the company’s range will reside the 90 models counting the S90 sedan and V90 station wagon, due to be unveiled in 2016, and the recently launched XC90.

This is part of the company’s strategy to maximise its economies of scale by utilising scalable platforms. The changes will mean the company can compete more meaningfully with the German triumvirate that is Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. The local outfit has now launched the V60 Cross Country to sit between the regular V60 model and the XC60 SUV.

The Cross Country name, of course, is not new to the Volvo range having first appeared in 1997 on an off-road clad version of the V70, dubbed the XC70. I recall being suitably impressed by the package when we reviewed it a few years ago. The V60 CC you see here joins the local fray to take on the likes of the Audi Allroad and Subaru’s Outback.

In essence, it is a slightly raised version (65mm higher) of the V60 with some plastic addenda to give it the requisite off-road look, as well as all-wheel drive (AWD) traction. This, then, is the more useable version of the V60 as the added ride height, all-wheel drive and hill descent control means you can tackle some mild off-road excursions. To see how the vehicle fares, we were offered the model in T5 AWD guise, which means a 2.5l, five-cylinder engine pushing out 187kW and 360Nm via a six-speed automatic transmission.

You can opt for a D4 diesel variant powered by a 2.4l five-cylinder power plant good for 140kW and 420Nm. Being a wagon means that it offers a sizeable boot, in this instance 430l (1,241l with rear seats folded), which made light work of swallowing up our weekend luggage and requisite supplies before nosing the vehicle towards North West Province to spend some time in the bush.

While the N4 is perhaps the most pristine and least congested route from Johannesburg towards the platinum province, we instead opted for some back roads, which took us through the Krugersdorp and Magaliesberg environs where the roads are characterised by undulating, potholed-riddled tarmac and a brigade of laden 18-wheeler trucks. While the suspension is relatively comfortable, there were patches that sent some shockwaves into the cabin, but this also helped to highlight the high levels of build quality as there was nary a rattle or squeak from the cabin’s structure.

Power delivery from the five-cylinder engine is smooth and characterful and it was very competent at clearing said trucks and slower moving vehicles. Alas, the engine does have its shortcomings, namely turbo lag when setting off or under kick down situations before pulling the vehicle forward with conviction. The other issue is the relatively high fuel consumption figure, which saw us average in the region of 11l/100km. We would recommend the diesel instead.

Nonetheless, the vehicle proved to be a comfortable commuter with good levels of insulation and relatively low levels of wind intrusion on the open road. Then it was time to tackle some gravel and here the slightly raised suspension proved its mettle. Undulations and dongas were easily dispensed with, although the characteristics of a diesel’s inherent low-down torque figures would have been more suitable under these conditions. That aside, though, the vehicle tackled the gravel patch with little fuss and seemed as though it could deliver a bit more should we subject it to even harsher driving conditions.

The interior remains a typically fuss-free, functional and well laid out affair with all the buttons easily legible. However, the navigation system could be a little easier to operate with a slightly larger dedicated knob, or even touch screen functionality. Being a Volvo, there were plenty of driver aids fitted to our car under the City Safe banner, including lane keep assist, a reverse camera and even collision avoidance, which are quite a boon during peak traffic and in confined parking spaces.

At R533, 000 for the AWD Momentum specification, the model does seem to err on the expensive side as there are small SUVs in this price bracket such as the forthcoming BMW X1 and Mercedes-Benz GLC that one could also consider. However, should the Swedish design strike a chord and you are in the market for a family wagon with some go-anywhere disposition, then the Volvo V60 CC is worth a second look, although we recommend the diesel D4 variant instead of the petrol T5 model.

*This article first appeared on Business Day Motor News

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