With premium brand cars ‘entry level’ doesn’t equate to ‘mean and nasty’ as it can do in cheap vehicles. The Volvo XC60 T5, for example, is the same capable car as the full-noise T6 AWD R-Design, but does without the big engine, big wheels and some of the high-tech gizmos that, let’s face, often don’t get used anyway.
The T5 is still equipped to the level you would expect a $69,990 SUV to be, but doesn’t have high-end gear such as adaptive cruise control with collision warning and automatic braking (a $4590 option on the T5), or the blind spot warning system.
But with leather upholstery, Bluetooth and i-Pod connectivity, power tail gate, premium stereo... you don’t want for much in the T5. And being a Volvo, it is loaded with airbags, dynamic stability and traction control, anti-lock brakes and crash safety performance second to none.
The ‘entry level’ theory also applies to the engine: The 224kW turbocharged 6-cylinder engine you’d find in the T6 is by all accounts a great engine, but more than you’ll ever need in normal driving, especially in a family wagon such as the T5. The T5’s 177kW turbocharged direct injection petrol engine is plenty, especially when it delivers its healthy peak torque of 320Nm in the 1800-5000rpm range where most normal driving is done.
Matched to a 6-speed automatic, the result is effortless acceleration, safe and spritely overtaking, and pulling power that happily lugged Rural News staff and equipment to the ploughing nationals, and took a family and stacks of luggage on a weekend jaunt – tasks this car is perfect for.
The manufacturer quotes performance figures of 8.1 seconds for the 0-100km/h sprint, top speed of 210km/h and fuel economy of 8.7L/100km. We didn’t put the speed claims to the test, but didn’t feel at any stage we needed more power, the 4-cylinder T5 pulling for all the world like a torquey 6-cylinder.
One feature of the higher-end XC60s not included in the T5 is all-wheel-drive. If you need the extra traction you’ll need to buy the $79,990 D5 AWD, a capable diesel variant with a few more toys than the T5, or the $86,990 T6 (or go all the way and get the R-Design T6 for $96,990). However, front-wheel-drive will suit most situations, such as driving across paddocks to set up for the ploughing nationals.
The chassis has coil-over-strut front suspension with multi-link independent rear suspension, anti-dive, anti-lift function with anti-roll bars front and rear. Making for a comfortable ride and secure handling. On the school commute or long-distance touring, as with the engine performance, this car is effortless.