If you love the handling of a sedan but need to go at times to places with bad roads and cannot buy two cars for this requirement, Volvo has you covered. Meet the new S60 Cross Country, wherein Volvo gave S60 the Cross Country treatment. What that means is that the S60 Cross Country now has qualities of SUVs in order to overcome slush, bad roads, sand and similar off-road conditions. That sounds like a perfect vehicle for weekday office runs and the weekend trip to the farmhouse or an adventure drive. The fact is that it only sounds perfect for the job as of now so we decided to drive the S60 Cross Country and find out if it strikes the balance or misses out due to compromises.
Since the S60 Cross Country is a 'go more places than sedan' vehicle, it's ground clearance has been increased to 201 mm from 135 mm on the S60 sedan. In real world terms, the S60 Cross Country's ground clearance is more than that of the new BMW X1, Audi Q3 and a bit over the Audi Q5 as well, putting it right into the SUV category. So it isn't a poser unlike many crossovers with body claddings and means business.
I was convinced before driving the car that the raised height will give it an odd-stance, leading to an unappealing design. Mostly wrong I was since the S60 Cross Country although not attractive, manages to exude dynamism, aggression and toughness, all key qualities for an off-roader. Styling differentiations from the S60 include body-cladding, skid plates, flared wheel arches and a different front grille. The wheels have been upsized to 18-inch instead of the 17-inch ones on the standard S60. I've said this earlier and maintain that this is India's first Sports Utility Coupe (SUC), which is bound to make you stand out among a German crowd of vehicles.
Does the go match the show?
The key answer to find out was can the S60 Cross Country's driving character match its looks. It seems God was in a mood to find out as well since I got the Volvo S60 Cross Country during the days when Gurgaon was drowned in water and other parts of Delhi weren't dry as well. The higher ground clearance definitely came in handy while driving through water-logged streets. At times I had to move to the extreme sides of the road to avoid deep water and even on such slushy and low-traction surface, the car never showed signs of getting stuck as the all-wheel drive system did its job exceptionally well.
That brings us to the powertrain and the way the S60 Cross Country drives on normal roads. The engine is the same D4 2.4 l engine from the S60 but has been detuned to offer 190 hp here instead of the 215 it does in the sedan. Max torque is rated at 420 Nm and the engine is paired to a six-speed automatic transmission. Internationally, the S60 CC is offered with Volvo's Drive-E engine, which is modern and more refined and comes with an 8-speed automatic transmission. The reason it doesn't come in the AWD version is the inability of the all-wheel drive (AWD) system to be paired to the Drive-E engine presently. However, the D4 engine will be phased out globally soon and the Drive-E engine should then be the staple engine for all Volvo vehicles.
The increased ride height has multiple effects on the dynamics of the S60 Cross Country. First, the handling of the vehicle is not as sharp as the S60 sedan. Although body-roll is more evident than the sedan, it's quite less for a vehicle of this height. In order to minimise the roll, the suspension was stiffened due to which the ride quality is on the firm side. In general, it's fine but on bad roads the firm ride quality isn't comfortable. Going hard around corners, there is some understeer as well but the steering is precise with good feedback available, allowing the driver to have more confidence in the vehicle.
Cabin & Features
Inside the cabin, there isn't much difference from the standard S60. On top of the centre-console is the usual infotainment screen providing access to Bluetooth, navigation, Aux, FM, etc. The screen also doubles up as a display for the reverse parking camera. The seats are sportier and larger than the regular S60 and offer impressive side support, shoulder support and overall comfort. Rear seats offer decent legroom and average headroom for someone like me. Taller occupants will have their heads brushing the roof due to its sloping design. Accessibility to and from the cabin has improved due to the raised height.
The cabin experience is good for a car in this part of the luxury segment but the centre console design has started showing its age, especially when one takes a look at the German competition. Volvo's XC90 then is the way forward for Volvo, since it's the only Volvo sporting a better interior than its competitors.
I've always enjoyed driving Volvo car, not because they're the fastest or flashiest but simply because I don't think there's anyone else who makes a better no-nonsense car in this segment. The S60 Cross Country is no different as it goes around city roads as well as it tackles bad surfaces, establishing a great balance between the dual-roles it's been designed to handle. Another interesting thing to share about Volvo cars is that I've become used to their cars performing in conditions where people seem certain they would fail. I once earlier drove a V40 comfortably on snow-clad roads in the Himalayas, where I saw multiple SUVs struggling for traction. With the S60 Cross Country too, I came across SUVs and UVs failing to make it through some water-logged streets and people told me not to try and cross the flooded street. I was sure though of the water depth on the road near my home and the S60 Cross Country didn't disappoint at all.