2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design Review

Driven: Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design. Any good?

By Tim Kendall | 16th August 2013

Vital Statistics

  • Model: XC60 T6 R-Design
  • Engine: 3.0 six-cyl turbo, 304hp
  • Transmission: Automatic
  • Price: £43,550
  • 0-60: 6.9 secs
  • Top Speed: 130 mph
  • Economy: 26.4 mpg (combined)
  • Options fitted to test car:
    Metallic paint

What is it?

Volvo’s premium compact SUV. It’s been around a few years now, but this Swedish rival to the Audi Q5, BMW X3 and Land Rover Freelander has always been the alternative choice in the soft-roader market. Want an SUV that does a good impression of the ultimate driving machine? You know where to go. Want four rings on your wagon or bona-fide off-road cachet? Likewise.

And if you don’t want the obvious BMW, Audi or Land Rover but fancy an upscale keyring in your pocket and a modicum of understated prestige? Volvo it is then.

2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design Lux Nav

The 2013 XC60 T6 R-Design.

DrivingTalk grabbed the keys to a range-topping Volvo XC60 T6 AWD R-Design Lux Nav Geartronic* to form some opinions on Sweden’s entry into this crowded market sector. Find out if it’s any good below.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design: first impressions

The premium label sits well with the XC60. In R-Design trim – the only spec available paired with the T6 petrol option – you get a set of smart 18″ Ixion alloys, matt silver door mirrors and some twin exhaust pipes to mark out this XC’s sporting intent. It all adds a touch of visual tension to an already handsome shape. Indeed, the Steve Mattin penned XC60 has worn the years well and to these eyes is one of Volvo’s most successful efforts since they junked the set-square so beloved of their designers in the ’80s and ’90s.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design

R-Design gets 18″ Ixion wheels and firmer suspension setup

What about the XC60’s interior?

Inside it’s better still, with a lovely air of solidity and that floating console seen recently on other Volvo models like the new V40. All of the primary controls also feel nicely centred around the driver. R-Design trim brings racier blue dials, along with a smattering of logos on the steering wheel and embossed into the front seat backs. Also impressive is the quality of materials in the cabin, including higher grade leather than you’ll find lower down the Volvo pecking order. All in all, understated, solid and it must be said, supremely comfortable with a first-class driving position. There’s also a sizable boot with a flat load-bay – albeit at 495 litres, a tad smaller than the BMW X3’s. So far, so good.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design interior

The XC60’s interior is a solid, stylish and comfy place to rack up the miles

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design

Blue dials look good on the R-Design 

Behind the wheel. Firecracker or dullard?

Definitely not the latter. Under the XC60 T6 R-Design’s nose lies a 3.0-litre six cylinder turbo lump which turns in a pretty satisfactory 304hp. If you want to avoid the dirty derv, in this sector there isn’t much else around with similar grunt. But if you’re quite happy to let your SUV puff out particulates all day long, then there are some pretty compelling competitors to the XC60 T6 out there – more on that later.

2013 Volvo XC60 R-Design

The T6 motor scores points immediately for its sonorous, muted six-cylinder growl. It’ll also move off very smartly indeed if you slot the stubby lever for the six-speed Geartronic box across into sport – which has the effect of picking the right ratio so that the turbo is always awake, lending the XC a genuinely surprising turn of speed.

How fast then? Well ask it to rocket to 60 as fast as its Haldex four-wheel drive can shuffle the power around and it’ll get there about 6.9 seconds later, after a brief chirrup of the tyres. The raised driving position somehow makes it feel much quicker than the figures suggest though. In sport mode the gearbox is relatively responsive, but in the standard setting it can be caught napping with too high a ratio, forcing an unseemly mash of the go pedal in order to squirt past slower traffic. It’s certainly no match for the latest 8-speed autos which the opposition are using, and in that sense, the XC60 is beginning to show its age. By the same token, it’s not a hopeless sluggard either.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design AWD Geartronic

6-speed Geartronic auto can get caught napping

Is the Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design economical to run?

Well, no. Don’t buy this car unless you are happy to be on first name terms with the staff of your local petrol station. Claimed combined economy is 26.4mpg and I didn’t better 23.3mpg during 500 miles of mixed driving with the T6. Granted, some of it was spirited driving, but opt for the T6 and you are likely to be hit in the wallet if you use any of the performance. The CO2 emissions of 249g/km also put it in a high tax band, so its appeal to company drivers is limited. Other, cleaner and less thirsty XC60s are available….

Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design dashboard

Economy isn’t a strongsuit of the T6 engine

Pudding or Soufflé? Does the XC60 T6 handle well?

Not badly at all. You can hustle this soft-roader without looking like a lurching, wide-eyed idiot, which is always a good start.

What? You want a deeper analysis of the XC60’s dynamic repertoire? Well body control and ride are well-judged and the sharper steering and slightly stiffer suspension of the R-Design work well with a chassis setup that is fundamentally very competent, if not exactly exciting. The downside is a ride that can feel too firm around town, especially on the broken surfaces which characterise most of our urban landscape. It’s never crashy, but occasionally fidgets. But on the motorway and faster sweeping roads, the compromise between cornering ability and ride is good. Refinement too, is strong with wind and road noise very well suppressed. If you like driving, the XC60 T6 R-Design is engaging enough, most of the time.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design AWD

Volvo, 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design, cars, SUV

*The XC60 has just been face-lifted – quite literally – the new model gets a fresher front end and some interior tweaks, but no mechanical changes. See more on the Volvo Car UK website.

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design picture gallery

Volvo, 2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design, cars, SUV

2013 Volvo XC60 T6 R-Design Review

  • Performance: 7/10
  • Ride & Handling: 7/10
  • Economy: 5/10
  • Equipment: 7/10
  • Want one factor: 6/10

The Verdict

It ticks a lot of boxes – being pleasingly rapid, premium in feel, comfortable, nice to drive (if not imbued with the dynamic polish of BMW’s X3), and a bit of a looker. If someone else is paying the petrol and you’re happy to laugh in the face of depreciation, then yes – the T6 R-Design is easy to recommend. But, looming at the back of the room like a big animal with a trunk, is the XC60′s price. In T6 R-Design Geartronic Lux Nav trim, the XC60 weighs in at a weighty £43,550. That’s a large wedge and one that’ll buy you the more accomplished BMW X3 35d M-Sport, which offers a sight more performance and economy from its 3.0-litre turbodiesel motor. It’s also uncomfortably close to the stonkingly rapid ‘S’ version Audi’s Q5. Yet mention the word discount in the general direction of a Volvo dealer and that list price could quite easily be shaved considerably. Still, the Volvo XC60 really appeals despite arguments against it. If you don’t want to join the hordes of ‘me toos’ defaulting to predictable badges, choose a diesel version, grab a hefty discount and the XC60 is a strong contender.


  • Good to drive, quality feel, looks good
  • Very pricey in T6 form. And thirsty...

By Tim Kendall
16th August 2013

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