Volvo intend to make their cars among the safest on the road and have pledged that by 2020 nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo.
This quest has been so successful that safety experts Euro NCAP have just assessed the recently launched Volvo XC60 SUV as the safest car yet tested. Impressively, their rating was based on the car’s standard specification, unlike many manufacturers who rely on expensive option packs to boost safety.
So, are the XC60’s safety features helpful or intrusive? We set out to find out.
Volvo are now firmly established as a premium brand and the XC60 is beautifully finished inside and out. In true Scandinavian style, the cabin design is clean and minimalist with few physical switches, most functions being controlled through the portrait-format central touch-screen.
A second screen replaces the traditional dials and incorporates a camera-based traffic sign display. As well as this visual speed limit display, an audible warning alerts the driver to exceeding the prevailing speed limit.
Some lane departure systems give only an audible warning that the car is about to stray into another lane, unlike Volvo’s system which vibrates the steering wheel gently and nudges the car back into the lane if necessary. It also continually monitors for objects in the car’s path and helps the driver to avoid them.
Oncoming Lane Mitigation is also standard and is intended to prevent head-on collisions. If you move out of your lane into the path of an oncoming car, the system will warn you of the potential danger, automatically providing steering assistance to guide you safely back into your lane.
Blind spot warning systems are not uncommon, again Volvo’s system goes much further than the usual warning light in the door mirror, and automatically applies the steering to bring the car back into the lane.
Thankfully, none of the advanced safety systems needed to be put to the test in our time with the XC60. However, they reassure by their very presence.
We did, however, try Pilot Assist, Volvo’s semi-autonomous driving option. This controls accelerator, brakes and steering to keep the car in the centre of its lane at a safe distance from the vehicle in front, and is intended to ease motorway driving.
Activation of the system is made very clear by a prominent symbol illuminating on the driver’s display screen. Once in operation, the system can be disengaged by a simple touch on the brake pedal and re-engaged by one steering wheel button press. Overall, Pilot Assist works extremely effectively and certainly makes motorway driving easier.
So a big thumbs-up for the XC60 as a whole: not only very safe, also superb quality, spacious, quiet and refined, easy to drive, smooth and comfortable. Try one soon!
A fuller review of the Volvo XC60 can be found on the writer’s website www.autonews.uk.com.
© Andy Goundry 18 November 2017