Red Light Di ... I mean Amsterdam, here we come
City driving is a different story altogether. Especially when you have to factor in the crazy cyclists everywhere. It's no wonder all of the Dutch people are so thin, as they ride their bicycles like mad. And they disregard the traffic laws and cars as if they don't exist, which means you need to pay attention. Luckily, Volvo helps again with its collision detection sensors, which work up to 50 km/h. Not a bad thing.
Indeed, safety has always been one of the big things in any Swedish car, and even without an engineering degree and an x-ray inspection of the reinforced profiles in the car's frame and doors, you know it's built to withstand a meteor strike and more. Like a tank. There's special solidness in Volvo, and you feel like you can ram it directly into a wall without any great damage.
Parking sensors are also good and accurate and they don't beep unnecessarily. They do their work pretty well, and when it comes to snuggling next to other cars in the narrow Amsterdam streets, the set of electronic aids around you is helpful. Not the external mirrors though. When you slot in the reverse gear, they actually dip down so you can see the kerb, the parking lines and whatnot, but then, you lose sense of the surroundings around you higher up, and this can be somewhat disorienting.
XC60 is not an urban car, but it did not struggle in traffic. It's maneuverable and feels like any other vehicle. In fact, the sense of bulk is more apparent on the highway than it is in town. I can't explain why this is, only relate my experience. But maybe it's the fact you get relaxed by inhaling all the weed fumes.
Speaking of which, the console design is silly. Why would you have all those buttons there? Unless, of course, the car's intended for old people who love their 80s and 90s. Then, the man-shaped control for the aircon vents isn't helping promote the cause either. You would imagine that hitting any one of them would toggle on/off the flow of air for that particular set of vents, but no. All sorts of weird, almost random combos happen, and in the three days, I haven't figured out what gives.
Sex and the City (Two Unlimited)
Well not really. But what did you expect? Driving through Eindhoven and Amsterdam, Volvo behaved, and when you don't push it, it's almost refined. You forget about the gear changes, and you focus on not mangling any lunatic cyclists. Then, when you're relaxed, XC60 makes more sense, as it's tuned for a more leisurely pace, both in the mechanics it provides and your own emotional state.
And if you're really stressed, you can always go into one of the coffee shops, where, much like Germany, you'll find rubber for sale. Just in case everything else wasn't good enough for you. No toys this time, though.
The back bench is comfy, and you have a big armrest in between the two seats, but there are some hard, sharp pieces of metal hidden here and there, so you need to watch your wrists and elbows. That sure does not inspire relaxation for the rear passengers. Upon leaving the car, you can auto-close the windows, and there's a good privacy lid for the boot. Not like the Insignia estate, which didn't do this trick so well.
You can load a bunch of stuff into the back, many liters (Borat voice) so if you have a family, the four-person four-suitcases combo can work for longer trips. I had two 185cm adults sitting in the back playing with their smartphones, and they did not complain too much, apart from the fact geeky old men complain often, which is something they normally do. In the rear, there's enough fresh breath from the vents, and the system despite its quirky controls, is quite pleasant and quiet. You don't end up sweating or with a raspy throat, even after prolonged use.
We did some more trippin' north-south through the country, carefully obeying the traffic laws and dodging the cyclists. Most of it was spent keeping to the perfectly straight lanes and not falling asleep, listening to music and ranting about life. Volvo XC60 is a decent companion for this kind of endeavor, and while not as thrilling as you hope for, it sure isn't a bad choice. Offroad fun would definitely be interesting, and diesel sounds like another great option, but not this time. We'll have to do with the petrol version and its charms.
The subsequent drives from Maastricht to Amsterdam, then back to Eindhoven and back again, with some more time spent in the city, solidified my impression. Volvo XC60 was doing its thing consistently, and did not grow on me or make me angry. It delivers what it can, all it can, right away, right there, and there are no hidden surprises or would-be real-life DLC achievements you can unlock as you spend more time in the car. On one hand, this is a delightfully predictable experience, on the other, if it's not what you are looking for, you will be disappointed.
The Netherlands Eurotrip wasn't the most exciting driving experience in my life, but it was fun, colorful and, all things considered, quite interesting. Volvo XC60 carried gracefully. I haven't revealed all the little details on what it can or can't do, as we will cover those in a separate review, but it's not a bad car. You just need to remember that precise and engaging driving experience isn't at the top of the list. Safety, comfort, opulence. Good and appealing design, which is superior to Volvo saloons and hatches, if you ask me.
The combination of expensive gadgetry, sporty looks and an adequate if not engaging driving dynamics make this a family car, or maybe an exec commuter, first and foremost. It's not cheap or economic, although I have to come back to you with some solid numbers, and the eight-speed auto is a letdown. The engine isn't delivering all it can, and it sure can. As far as the road challenges go, the smooth, sweeping lengths of lowland tarmac didn't test XC60 to the limit, but it still behaved nicely, and it surprised with its in-city behavior and impressive safety features. It's spacious enough to accommodate four above-average adults, if only average by the Netherlands standards, mind, making it quite suitable for longer trips.
All in all, I wish I had a diesel version, as it would be most likely more refined and more frugal, and extra torque would have helped with the car's significant mass and reduced the auto box fidgetry, but then I'm coming across like a diesel fanboy. Except for big cars, unless they come with powerful V6/8/10/12 engines, it makes perfect sense. When all is said and done, Volvo XC60 is an okay tourer, and you'll love it if you're after electronics and all-around pimpage. If you're after the purity of driving, then there are better and cheaper choices for cross country dashes. We are sort of done here. We shall follow up with an in-depth car review, so stay tuned.