Critical vacuum

Inwood searches for problems; returns empty handed

ALEX INWOOD

OurGarage

VOLVO XC60 O XC60 T8

Date acquired: January 2018

Price as tested: $105,340

This month: 1010km @ 4.9L/100km

Overall:5670km @ 6.9L/100km

Pure logic

T8 offers six drive modes (AWD, Pure, Hybrid, Power, Off Road, Individual) with Hybrid being the default used for everyday driving. This month was spent exploring Pure, which favours the electric motor and dulls powertrain response to consume less energy. That boosts the EVonly range from 35km in Hybrid to 40km, and while throttle response is dulled, electric assistance means the drop isnít as dramatic as with an ICE-only powertrain.

AH THE three month itch. Typically this is the time in a carís journey through the Wheels Garage when the excitement of running a new long-termer begins to wane and some frustrations of familiarity begin to rise. Itís a key reason we run long-term test cars: to unearth the niggles and quirks that only begin to surface after prolonged use Ė the very same journey youíd experience if you bought the car yourself.

The only problem is that, in this instance, there arenít any frustrations to report. Not yet anyway. Three months in and the XC60 T8 is proving the near-perfect companion. Quiet, comfortable and fantastically frugal (it sipped just 4.9L/100km this month; an impressive effort for a 2174kg SUV), the T8 has slipped seamlessly into my life.

EASY LISTENING Optional B&W audio a must-have if you love music. 1400W, 15 speakers, $4500. Worth every cent

Itís effortless to drive. The steering is light and crisp, which bestows a sense of wieldiness in tight urban spaces. Visibility is excellent courtesy of an airy glasshouse and parking is a painless process, even in cramped underground spots, thanks to three camera views (choose between rear, side or overhead), which are displayed in high resolution on the central screen.

And then thereís the powertrain, which manages to achieve the usually mutually exclusive traits of being efficient while also feeling muscular and responsive. The instant torque of the electric motor helps here, yet even when the battery seems fully depleted, the T8 captures and stores enough energy in general driving to add small bursts of battery-assisted shove as you move away from the lights or gun for a gap in traffic.

Even annoyance-prone areas like the infotainment system remain bugbear-free. All of the buttons are where youíd expect, the menu structure is logical and detailed (allowing you to navigate between different song playlists without needing to touch your phone), and the portrait-orientated touchscreen swipes like a smartphone.

The only niggles are delivered by the stumpy Orrefors gear selector (T8 specific), which requires a double pump to move from drive to reverse. And the infotainment system can lag slightly on start-up if youíre impatiently pressing the screen to ignite the seat heaters on a cold morning. Iíve long since adjusted to the sensitive brake pedal, which I now find easy to modulate.

And thatís it. After 12 weeks of everyday use, theyíre the only criticisms I can level at the T8, which further validates its COTY win. Even better is that on top of delivering the ease-of-use and functionality you expect, the T8 does so with just enough Swedish flair and x-factor (through neat design touches and quality materials) to feel interesting and desirable. Which arenít words often used to describe medium SUVs.

ALEX INWOOD