Like with most SUVs, the majority of XC60s will be specified with a diesel engine. Two are available, both 2.0-litre units, and the entry-level D4 is all you need. Granted, it’s no ball of fire, but it delivers enough low-rev urgency to get you going with very little effort, and it has no problem picking up its skirts one you’re on the move, either.
The more powerful D5 version is brisker, helped in no small part by its use of a clever air compressor system to power up the turbocharger, which perks up the power delivery at low revs. However, because the XC60 is no lightweight, acceleration away from the mark still feels a little less sizzling than you might expect given all the effort that Volvo has gone to. That said, once you’re rolling, the strong mid-range grunt the engine develops gives the car effective overtaking power and relaxed cruising manners. Best of all, both the diesel engines are very quiet and extremely smooth.
The petrol engine we’ve tried, the T5 2.0-litre turbo, is similarly quiet and smooth, but it can sound a little raspy and breathless if you really pile the revs on. Also, with less low down urge than the diesels, the T5 doesn’t match quite as well with the XC60’s rather laid-back on-road character. Like the bigger XC90, the XC60 also comes in T8 Twin Engine form, which is a plug-in hybrid that combines an electric motor with the T5 engine. However, we’ve yet to try this version of the car.
All XC60s come with a standard eight-speed automatic gearbox, and the gearshifts are generally very smooth, with just the occasional stumble noticeable if you suddenly demand maximum power from low speeds. The gear-shifter itself is a bit stiff and can be quite reluctant to shift from drive, to reverse, and back again. Unlike some four-wheel-drive systems, which tend to increase the levels of tyre noise and axle whirrs that enter the cabin, everything underneath the XC60 is exceptionally well isolated, which all adds to the overall sense of refinement as you mosey along.