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The cool Swede meets the rugged outdoors

S Muralidhar | Updated on January 20, 2018

Keep it cool The S60’s coupe-like design, fender extensions and scuff plates give the Cross Country a lot of the expected sporty and crossover character. The driver oriented cockpit. S MURALIDHAR

Tail-lamps look like they have been carried over from the S60

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The Volvo S60 Cross Country is trying to marry luxury with all-terrain ability within the body of a sedan. Does the chemistry work?

From the land of the ‘Ice Man’ comes the new S60 Cross Country, the sedan-based Crossover that is meant to stay cool under the most strenuous road conditions. The first reference to the human is Bjorn Borg , whose nick names ‘Ice Man’ or ‘Ice Borg’ were perfect acronyms for the most calm and unruffled sportsman ever to step on a tennis court. Our Captain Cool gets there somewhat, though Borg was in a different league altogether.

This is not a sports column, so clearly what is going to be reviewed here is the second object of interest – the Volvo’s new crossover built on the S60 sedan. By the way, Volvo is still Swedish, though it is owned by the Chinese company Zhejiang Geely Holding. Thankfully, its change in ownership hasn’t affected the character of its cars and it is especially evident in vehicles like the S60 Cross Country.

Sports utility vehicles and crossovers are fast becoming the favourites amongst buyers worldwide and like this week’s anchor story points out, the list of car makers joining the fray will soon include the super luxury brands too. For Volvo which only has a few car lines in its portfolio and which already has two SUVs in the XC90 and XC60, the Crossover is the next available move to extend the reach of its other cars.

Design

Volvo already has a similar variation on another car in the V40 Cross Country, though much of the changes there were cosmetic. But unlike the V40 which is a hatch, and so the crossover concept sits more naturally on that car’s shoulders, how does the S60, which is a sedan, look like when it is raised onto a crossover profile?

Honestly, there are some angles where the S60 Cross Country looks a bit ungainly, but from most others it manages to look rather comfortable in its skin. It helps that the S60 already had a stubby boot and its roofline isn’t too off either for a crossover. The USP that Volvo pitches to potential premium crossover buyers is the S60 Cross Country’s 201mm ground clearance. It is 65mm more than the S60 sedan and is claimed to be more than that of many compact SUVs too.

Volvo says that the S60 Cross Country is for drivers looking for the luxury with the thrills. We in India will be happy if it helps handle the bad roads and the flooding post the monsoons…thank you. To bolster its crossover credentials, Volvo has also endowed it with all-wheel drive. The S60’s coupe-like design does allow the crossover styling to sit fairly well on this one. The black fender extensions, scuff plates at the front and the rear, the dual, integrated rectangular tail-pipes and the body side accents in brushed aluminium give the Cross Country a lot of the expected sporty and crossover character. Body side cladding has been kept minimal and only the wheel arches adorn the black extensions. Most of the other design elements have been carried over from the S60, including the headlamps and the tail-lamps.

Cabin

The first impression one gets with the S60 Cross Country’s interior is that the cabin is almost identical to the S60 sedan. But that is not really that much of a negative given the S60’s driver oriented cockpit and the classy finish that you get. The same ergonomically designed leather seats, the same soft-touch, high quality plastics and controls on the dashboard and centre stack and the motorbike inspired digital instrument cluster are all very likeable. The infotainment system and the multiple control buttons in the middle of the centre stack is the only one which feels small and a bit dated. Your left hand almost automatically fumbles for the non-existent circular MMI controller near the arm rest.

Rear legroom is great and the boot space is also more than adequate. Though the cabin is driver-oriented with its multiple electrical adjustments for the front seats, rear occupants get dedicated air-conditioner vents mounted on the B-pillar. Driver assistance includes front blind view cameras and sensors and rear parking assist. Overall minimalism and choice of materials make the interior very likeable, though perceived quality is just a shade lower than the German 3.

Performance

The S60 Cross Country has being launched with only one loaded trim level. The engine on offer is also only the D4 from the S60. This 2.4-litre, 5-cylinder diesel engine has been detuned to offer 190hp of peak power and a peak torque of 420Nm in the S60 Cross Country. Diesel engines are good at hiding their deficiencies in the power department and this one is no exception. A few 20-30 horses more will always be welcome, but the S60 Cross Country still bolts and there is a certain breeziness to its on-road behaviour, though there is no sense of unsteadiness.

Inside the cabin the engine noise coming through is a bit more during the initial acceleration cycle, but at high speeds and even at higher revs the noise is rather nice to hear if you are a driver who likes to stay connected.

The steering feels over-assisted in city traffic, but nicely weighs up at high speeds. The engine is mated to a 6-speed automatic transmission and there is the option of a sport mode or even manual selection by flicking steering-mounted paddles.

The ride quality in the S60 Cross Country is surprising good. There is no sense of the extra ride height while on the road or when tackling corners. You know that you are sitting a bit higher, but you feel no compromise to stability, thanks to the all-wheel drive and the torque vectoring corner traction control. There is no body roll or change in the ride quality over regular roads.

Really bad roads leads to a bit of bounce in the cabin, but it still feels sure footed and the S60 Cross Country also gets other stability control systems.

Bottomline

Volvo is legendary for its focus on safety and the S60 Cross Country gets the whole complement of features. To build a crossover on a sedan is difficult call to make. You might crack it, or get it horribly wrong. Volvo has managed to create something really convincing in the S60 Cross Country.

At about ₹40 lakh, it is priced right next to the fiercest competitors in the luxury space. If you are looking to buy one in that price segment, the S60 Cross Country’s niche might be worth trying out.

Published on March 31, 2016

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