On Grumpier Days, the temptation to administer an encouraging punt up the luggage to roundabout ditherers is almost too strong to ignore. Bizarrely, given the company’s safety pedigree, Volvo’s new XC60 makes it nigh on irresistible. Because, alongside developments in ABS-based stability control and anti-trailer-snake trickery, the new Volvo also boasts “City Safety” – a laser-enabled system that operates below 18mph to prevent unsolicited contact in urban environments.Demonstrations prove unnerving because the laser only wakes up within ten meters of your victim, but it works. Summoning the courage to try it in the real world is, however, another matter, but its reassuming to know any lapses in attention wont destroy Steve Mattin’s hard work.‘Traditionally, Volvo’s interpretation of DNA signified DO NOT Abandon the design traditions’, says design boss Mattin. ‘We have now expanded its significance to include the more exciting Dramatic New Approach’. But while it is largely handsome, the XC60 isnt as much of a stylistic leap forwards as you might at first imagine. The pinched, ‘coke bottle’ sides are an extension of an idea first visited upon the S80 by Peter Horbury, the rising belt line is merely the current fad, and its left to the front and rear treatments to make the case for anything properly dramatic.
The XC60 is based on the S80/XC70 platform, but 200mm shorter. A quick clamber about in the back suggests that this has largely been lost in rear seat legroom, which would feel even worse were it not for the fact that Mr. Whippy has been at the front seat backs with a large ice cream scoop. Up front, though, it’s a good place for drivers to be. Volvo continues to vie with Mercedes for the most comfortable long-haul seat honors, and the floating center console theme takes on further, elegant twist with a driver-oriented slant here.