Volvo S60 Cross Country Review

Volvo S60 Cross Country Review

Introduction
We have seen crossover hatchbacks and crossover estates but this is a first. Meet the new Volvo S60 Cross Country. It is a sedan that has lifted its skirts and looks like it will take, sorry, go over anything that comes in its way. Unlike many of those crossover hatchbacks and estates, the S60 Cross Country comes with genuine credentials. The suspension has been raised, it gets bigger wheels and tyres, and a botox surgery worth of plastic addenda to the S60’s pretty skin. First impressions are that it looks a bit odd. It’s got 201mm of air between the ground and its underside and I guess I’m not used to seeing a sedan on stilts. That aside, it is quite the handsome car because it is nearly identical to the S60 sedan and the S60 in general, turns a lot more heads than your average 3 Series and C-Class. The only noticeable changes besides the raised stance is the Cross Country embossing on the rear bumper, plastic wheel arch cladding, scuff plates and a honeycomb grille that’s exclusive to the Cross Country. There’s also no flashy red and blue paint job to choose from as the Cross Country has white, silver, brown and black in its shade bar. Over the sedan, the S60 CC also gets all-wheel drive, 18-inch wheels with larger 50 profile Michelin Primacy tyres and a chunkier new alloy wheel design that goes well with the crossover theme.

All new?
Step in and there are no surprises either. It’s got nothing that differentiates the S60 CC from its sedan sibling. The best bit about being in one are the front seats that offer perfect cushioning and support. Otherwise, the cabin is looking a bit long in the tooth. What I am really keen to find out is the CC’s abilities on rutted roads. It does have all-wheel drive and high ground clearance after all.

How is it like to drive?
But before we drive to our trail, we have to get through some decently paved Gurgaon roads and the Volvo feels at home here. The visibility from the driver’s seat is excellent. The steering might be light and lifeless but makes city driving a breeze and the 5-cylinder diesel has adequate punch to keep ahead of traffic. The 2.4-litre mill is the same one offered on the top-end S60 sedan but comes detuned to 189bhp in the CC. While all other Volvos are moving on to the new Drive-E engines, it’s strange that the S60 CC sticks to the old 5-cylinder. We’re told the company is yet to figure out how to couple the AWD with the new engine. Anyway, this unit works well for touring, which is what the S60 CC aims to excel at. It’s refined and at ease as the revs rise and can hold high triple digit speeds all day. The dim-witted six-speed auto box is tuned so much for efficiency that it takes a while to react to heavier throttle inputs but once you are in the right gear, the S60 CC feels brisk.

Volvo has also stiffened the suspension to control body roll that comes with the higher ground clearance and it works well on smooth roads. There’s little roll and less pitching which is quite a pleasant surprise when you are sitting considerably higher than in the sedan. It still drives like a car and not an SUV. The downside of the stiff suspension is the harsh ride; too harsh for long distance touring. While it can clear broken and undulating roads, you can’t drive it with the nonchalance expected of it.

Front wheel drive or AWD?
You can however drive it fast through a series of bends. It’s predominantly front-wheel driven till you begin to understeer. The all-wheel drive system then sends power to the rear wheels and corrects the line to help you keep your pace up. It works better on a dirt track with undulations and quick direction changes where you can feel the heavy Volvo tighten up every time the front wheels lose grip. AWD is put to greater use here and could have made the S60 a fantastic everyday car in effluent garages of small towns had the ride been a little supple.

Competition check
The S60 CC doesn’t have any direct competition in the segment for now. It goes up against the BMW X1 and the Audi Q3 if you wanted something more practical than your regular luxury sedan, and it is priced on par too at `38.9 lakh, ex-showroom Delhi. It’s noticeably different from standard crossovers and sometimes cars that stand out work too.

Evo India rating: 3.5/5

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