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My how times change, today the Volvo range is stylish and highly desirable, far removed dare I say from the early estate cars that seemed to go on for ever, vehicles which served their owners well but lacked appeal.

Currently Volvo is producing some of the best SUVs, vehicles with a decided premium feel and I spent a week with the new XC60, a real challenger in the marketplace.

Currently the XC60 represents around thirty percent of the company sales and has established itself as the top selling mid sized premium SUV in Europe.

Not just today but for several years the Volvo brand has been strongly associated with safety; with their latest vehicles they have taken safety to even higher standards and the new XC60 is one of the safest vehicles currently on our roads.

Packed with technology to keep driver and passengers safe, items such as Steer Assist which has been added to the City Safety System.

There is a new system, Oncoming Lane Mitigation which uses Steer Assist to help mitigate head on collisions , while Volvo’s Blind Spot Information System now uses Steer Assist to reduce the risk of lane changing accidents.

Pilot Assist is an option, Volvo’s semi-autonomous driver assistance which takes care of the steering, acceleration and braking on well marked roads. I discovered the key to this system is very clear road markings, I had limited success, however it does work.

My test vehicle was the D4 Momentum Pro with a 190bhp diesel  power unit allied to an eight speed automatic transmission; reasonable performance rest to 62mph (100km/h) in around eight seconds with a top speed of 127mph (204km/h).

Often the case with test cars option packs are included and on this occasion two,

Xenium  featuring power glass tilt and slide panoramic sunroof with sun curtain, parking camera 360˚ surround view, Park Assist Pilot – automatic parallel and 90˚ parking and Intellisafe Pro with  Pilot Assist,  Adaptive Cruise Control,  Blind Spot Information System,  Cross Traffic Alert and  Rear Collision Mitigation.

Often when considering a new set of wheels it is like going into a Michelin starred restaurant where if you are not careful the wallet can take quite a bashing.

I suppose it all comes down to what you are wishing or can afford to spend.

Not for a minute do I want to give the impression that a standard XC60 is basic, nothing could be further from the truth, every model in the range comes with a very comprehensive spec; for example, a nine inch centre console touch screen, Sensus Connect, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, power operated tailgate and so the list goes on.

I was very impressed with the sat nav system, I simply wrote the name with my finger on the screen re the location I wanted to travel to and hey presto.

Surrounded with all this technology including a full infotainment package and comfort aids and the new XC60 delivers a very rewarding drive and what surprised most it is on a par with SUVs costing much much more. I can see clearly just why this Swedish built vehicle is so popular.

With its AWD system sure-footed travel is assured and on the economy front, official figures quote 55mpg (5.1 km/l) on the combined fuel cycle. The emission figure is 136g/km, which is reasonable for a vehicle in this class.

I did notice a further option which could be worth considering, a spare wheel and a jack.

Now to the all important cost, the XC60 tested including the options- £46,180 (€51,613). in N.I.  (R.O.I pricing starts at €53,950)

Worth noting there seems no end to the ever flowing amount of SUVs coming to market and yet another will be joining the Volvo family- the XC40.



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