_IN RECENT _years car makers have realised many people want an SUV for their comfort and space rather than because they harbour any grand off-road ambitions.
As such, many manufacturers have been able to focus their attention on making SUVs as good an on-road vehicle as possible and there have been some great results, such as Volvo's XC60 D4. It has no pretences of being an off-road monster - it's two-wheel- drive, after all - but it's a fine city slicker nonetheless.
The D4 is a new diesel front-wheel-drive option in the XC60 range and while it may not offer the same economy as similar 2WD diesels (such as the Range Rover Evoque), what it does have over most of its competitors is a fifth cylinder.
This means the D4 is no lumbering giant - it's much more a Naitanui than a Monkhorst - and its 6.9L/100km fuel use is hardly to be sneezed at.
Plus, this is one high-spec SUV you can grab with a list price under $60,000. For $58,490 plus on-road costs you'll score a reversing camera, heated seats, Bluetooth and USB connectivity and Volvo's City Safe collision avoidance technology, which will apply the brakes if it detects a collision while you're travelling up to 50km/h.
For extra safety features, such as lane-departure warning or adaptive cruise-control, and for a sat-nav system you'll have to fork out more or upgrade to the slightly higher-spec D4 Teknik.
Inside, Volvo has gone for minimalist style, with clean lines and use of chrome. Admittedly, the chrome centre console can reflect the sun a bit, but it all looks great, and with some ingenious design there is a heap of interior storage space - the large area behind the centre console is a case in point and there is a floor hatch in the rear. Also noteworthy design-wise is Volvo's electronic controls.
Despite media devices, radio, telephones, trip info and more all being viewed via the centre console screen, the addition of a scroll-wheel on the steering wheel makes menus easy to use and switch through, while searching for songs on an iPod or numbers on a phone is made easier by a simple alphabetical function.
It's a lesson in intuitive interfaces others should learn.
The XC60's urban SUV personality is probably best exemplified at the back.
An electronic tailgate and flat-folding rear and passenger seats means there is a heap of space for hauling things (this reviewer easily fitted an outdoor setting and chairs into the back), while there is also a nifty grocery bag holder which springs up from the load compartment floor.
That's the thing about the XC60: it's squarely aimed at the urban crowd but has all the convenience and space of an off-roader.
It's quite the combination.
- VOLVO XC60 *
- Model * D4
- Price *$58,490
- Engine *2.0-litre five-cylinder diesel
- Outputs *120kW/400Nm
- Transmission * Six-speed automatic
- Thirst *6.9L/100km
- Safety rating * Five stars