Where and how we met is what is vital… we met in Bhopal during the NDTV-Volvo XC60 Adventure Challenge 2014 and that is where I fell in love with a 40 L car! So the first good thing about the XC60 is that it makes you fall in love with it.
The rest of the good things follow in a line, never falling out or being raucous or boisterous, such is the effect of the car. So whether it is the smooth automatic transmission of the car, or it’s impeccable safety features, or the spacious boot opening and closing hydraulically, or the intelli-bending lights, or a central console that initially intimidates you with the number of touch controls and button controls there, or the sun roof, or the range of colour choices… you really have no option but to admit that you’re finally in love with a machine.
But hey! the XC60 isn’t a mere machine. It purrs like a woman (though at times it does purr more aggressively and louder), gallops like a horse in a race, turns like a dolphin in a performance, adopts the right gear like there was an Einstein sitting inside… and manages to gift you, the owner, a 56 inch chest that Modi recently talked about!
Let me add here that my partner and I drove the XC60 in the city, then on the highway, did off-roading, went up and down the hillls near Pachmarhi, drove throughout the day stopping only for very short breaks, and even slept inside the car. The 212 HP engine did not register a single complaint… in fact, it was going hoarse warning me whenever I went too close to a jutting rock or careless humans trespassing on Indian roads. The air conditioning was simply superb and it was a pleasure to test its efficacy by stepping out in the scorching heat of Bhopal and then dive back to see how fast the sweat dried… and it always did in a matter of nanoseconds!
Driving on the road within city limits is where I loved this car most… the advanced reversing controls made parking easier than it always was, and the proximity warnings that it gave must have saved us a number of times.
It is good that the rough and tough driving fortnight for me was intrinsically connected to the XC60… it wouldn’t have been easy had it been any other car, I’m sure.
It is tempting to write that Volvo needs to improve it’s pricing by scaling it downwards by a few lacs… but then seriously, I wouldn’t like to enter the slushy and mushy fiscal arena. This, however, reminds me of the awry swishes, lost traction, and a confused steering while negotiating slush and slippery ground during the off-roading experience. It was scary at times but it probably needed more expertise than I had, so I wouldn’t really go overboard complaining about it at all. In fact, one of my friends says that ‘the car lacks a limited slip differential or diff locks, so it seems it isn’t practical as a full-time, serious off-roader…’ I agree with him.
The digital controls and all the memory functions are not easy to remember but once you get a hang of them, they do make life inside the car much more lovable. There is very little that is sloppy or deserving the cane, so to say… though there will still be improvements and the newer models in the future will have things we cannot even imagine. One thing that bugged me was my not being able to get enough height to stand confidently and out of the open sun roof. This leads me on to the ticklish bump that makes life for the third passenger sitting in the rear seat in the centre far from comfortable. In fact, we took turns to sit in that position whenever three of us were inside one car and sitting in the rear seat. So if this vulgar bump can go, it’ll be very fine.
Look at the range…Silver Metallic, Seashell, Caspian Blue Metallic, Black Stone, Ice White, Flamenco Red Metallic, Rebel Blue, Cosmic White Metallic, Savile Grey Metallic, Black Sapphire Metallic, Terra Bronze Metallic, and Electric Silver Metallic… the one that I drove was black and our team was called ‘Midnight Thrillers’… and believe me, all colours suit this car.
The length, height, width & wheelbase of the XC 60 are 4644 mm, 1713mm, 1632mm and 2774 mm and they do give a feel of perfect ratio and a well-balanced car when you look at it from a distance.
I think we must have clicked a whole range of pictures of its newly styled LED daylight running head lamps and of the grille that has the company’s logo spreading across it… these two make the car picture-perfect! Anyway, the Scandinavian design simply means that the vehicle is a convergence of simplicity, elegance, and appeal! The dual exhaust tail pipes lend it that very essential new-age sporty look. The tail lamps have vertical cluster that looks amazing and the rear side has LED brake light at spoiler which is located at the tip of the rear-side roof.
The exteriors, in short, are simply mind-blowing!
What does a tall man look for? Headroom, of course. Well, the XC60 has ample front and rear headroom that is 1025 mm and 1003 mm respectively… but then when we talk of interiors all we mean is: ‘Am I comfortably seated?’ The answer is: ‘Yes.’ End of debate. However, for the nit-pickers, there is a comfort pillow, rear seat cover, sunshade rear window, electric heater, remoter start for heaters, electric compartment heater, and an active TFT crystal display with 3 graphic themes. So does this make you happier? The upholstery is fine, the seats are plush and the rest of the interior probably looks at you and says: ‘Relax! You’re sitting in a fine car.’
Well, let me share a few secrets here. The first thing my partner and I did was to connect our smartphone through bluetooth and switch on the audio player. The process was hassle-free and the sound regaled us throughout the fortnight that we spent driving this luxury car!
Now the sort of driving we were doing wasn’t the passive one that company chauffeurs do or the fearful and careful stance that owners adopt… we were quite bindaas about taking it to places where even sanity would cringe and cower… but the XC60 went on bravely with us, tolerating our braking, accelerations, and swerves… and it did everything very commendably. In fact, every time we came out of the car, my perceptive mind could hear: ‘Thank you, your driving has made me stronger and sturdier!’ I mean, this voice wasn’t there but I could sense the car whispering these words.
Barring a few times when we felt that the occupants were made to feel the bumps and the breakers, we were a happy lot.
My final observation is about the irrepressible human wish to own the best and so I can say with conviction that I will love to own an XC60… though I wish some unknown benefactor gifts it to me.
20 May 2014
Article published in ‘The Education Post’ dated 19 May 2014…