For those of us that travel extensively for work, whether via early hour drives to airports or long cross-country trips on endless motorways, what we want is comfort…and fun. A car that crunches those miles, while leaving us feeling rejuvenated and fresh for when we arrive at our destination.
Some people may insist on having an ‘executive’ saloon that offers the standard look for most business drivers. German in nature, sporty in looks and handling. While this is fantastic, these cars can lack a certain ease of driving. Hard suspension and sporty steering, while fun on country roads, can become tiresome on motorways which, being honest, is probably where we’ll be driving the most.
I’ll admit I have always chosen to drive a sports saloon, but now I feel I have seen the light.
Volvo XC60 D5 AWD (235 hp) auto supplied by Holden Group Norwich.
This is by no means a simple drive around some country lanes, 0-62mph test and then me telling you how well the car performed in unchallenging scenarios; this is a full-on 814-mile test. A real (ish – not everyone has a film crew) life test.
- 6ft 6. The tall one in our team. He demonstrates if a car can cater to most.
- 5. The number of people who participated in this drive.
- 16. The number of hours driving with us all sat in the car.
- 10 & 1. The number of bags (mostly suitcases) and 1 large tripod that accompanied us on this trip.
- 430. The number of jelly sweets consumed.
- 1. The number of hours we were lost in Dublin’s one-way system.
- 16. The total number of hours spent driving the car.
The Lost Executive was invited to the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin for a feature that will be released in February. We needed a film crew, presenters (that would be me and Donnie), a producer and a quantity of luggage that even the most astute Tetris player would struggle to fit into any boot.
On a dreary frosty morning, coffee in hand (well, cup holders, two in front, two in the back), I played bus driver, collecting each member of The Lost Executive expeditionary team, with each collection adding to the insurmountable quantity of luggage. A word of advice; if you ever have a camera crew, collect them first, as they have considerably more bags and equipment than you would expect.
After hitting our Tetris high score, we set off, yawns and all.
The XC60 is beautiful, not just in looks but also in its ability to devour miles of road. The M6 and A55 have never been so pleasant to frequent. The only way to describe it is…easy. In everything that it does, there is no stress, no struggle and you are kept in a world of tranquillity, which was only broken by a poorly chosen song on the road trip playlist. The steering is light, the ride smooth and with the D5 engine, the acceleration is silky fast. 0-62 in 7.2 seconds.
The Volvo XC60 exudes class and sophistication. Some cars make you want to drive fast, forget indicators exist and grant you a sense of permission to shout profanities at passing cars that displease you. The XC60 doesn’t. You take a step back, watching everything else with a sense of detachment, comfortable in your own serenity.
The XC60 feels big, in a good way. A reassuring way that gives you a sense of authority over the road, as well as a commanding driving position and view. This adds to the car’s ease of drive, as you feel in control. This was truly tested in Dublin, however. It appears the whole central area of Dublin had decided to go through a phase of development, throwing road closures, new one-way systems and traffic lights at us the whole way. Driving in these conditions, in an unfamiliar location, is stressful, even in a car you know well, but whether it was because of the new leather smell, or lovely automatic gearbox, it was fine. I was left able to place my full concentration on the road, looking into my blind spots when lane changing (the car comes with Blind Spot Information – BLIS as an option) and the car took care of the rest.
The size of the car becomes a disadvantage when parking in a multi-storey carpark. Those tight corners around the ramps, mean that you occasionally have to do an embarrassing three-point turn to squeeze around the bend, as smaller cars stare at you impatiently.
It’s gorgeous. I received a few compliments from people, each remarking that is is a lovely car.
Our car, came in ‘mussel blue’, which is a sophisticated and chic colour. Combine this with the standard (in Inscription spec) 19″ 10 spoke (Diamond Cut/Black) alloy wheels, and the car looks stunning. It certainly turned a few heads in traffic.
Interior wise, it is just a joy to be immersed in it. Everything is well laid out with high-quality finishes and attention to detail. There are the usual cheaper bits of plastic lower down, but they are out of site.
After a total of 14 hours driving in two days, I am still as refreshed as after a good night sleep.
My 6ft 6 giant of a colleague was able to sit in the rear and front without issue or discomfort. If like us, you’re expecting to carry four passengers for long drives, then the XC60 is perfect. For large intervals, not much was heard from the back seats as all four occupants were in a deep sleep; a testament to the car’s comfort.
For the times when you need your music to fill the car, the Bowers & Wilkins audio system offers an immersive experience, worthy of most music aficionados. The car allows you to choose a variety of sound experiences, from concert to studio. In my opinion, the standard setup is perfect for most drivers, but it is nice to have options.
Technology is always good and a lot comes as standard. The adaptive cruise control was a highlight, making motorway driving a breeze. Traffic sign recognition, like in most cars, is useless, often presenting you with the speed limit of the nearby road. After a few of these errors, it is no longer a device you can rely on or trust in any way.
The sat nav could be also be improved on. Finding some addresses was a bit of a pain and when driving through a city, it was not clear which exit or turning to take. This is merely a zooming in and out issue.
The 12.3″ Active TFT crystal driver’s information display that comes standard with the inscription model is brilliant, as it adapts to show you relevant driver information, including sat nav directions, telephone updates and road signs.
I highly recommended choosing the parking camera 360 surround view option, as the ability it gives you to avoid scrapes or accidental curbing of your alloys is very useful. It came in handy for manoeuvring around that tight multi-storey carpark in Dublin. In fact, it will make you a pro-parker in all situations, as you can perfectly aline the car.
We seriously put the boot storage to the test. 10 bags and that large tripod. Each of a different size, rigidity and shape. Looking into the boot, we wondered if it could manage, yet it did, surprisingly well. We all held our breath as the electric boot door closed and emitted a reassuring click to signal that it was secure.
The XC’s storage should easily cover most situations that any driver would need. Five adults will have no issues finding space.
As for the front, with a good-sized glove box and the central console offering space for two coffee cups and an additional storage pocket big enough for wallets, phones and keys, it was spot on.
The Lost Executive final word
I’m a convert. No longer do I consider the likes of the BMW Series 3 and onwards the ideal company car, the XC60 is the way forward. In fact, I’m going to buy one!
The level of refinement that came with the Inscription trim, was perfect. It had everything that I needed and allowed me to travel in comfort and style. My new favourite car to drive in the city or for long road trips.
You can find the Volvo XC60 D5 AWD (235 hp) auto specs here.
About Holden Group Norwich
Holden began trading in 1928, then known as the Reliance Garage Ltd. The owners employed a young apprentice Ernest Holden in their vehicle workshops. Ernest bought the business in 1943. Since Ernest his son Tony and Grandson Tim have both followed in his footsteps, meaning to this day Holden remains a local family business that has earned an enviable reputation for looking after it’s customers and it’s employees… Read more.