YOU’VE got to hand it to Volvo – thanks to clever marketing, great design and being constantly at the forefront of technology and safety they now find themselves with some very desirable vehicles on the forecourt.

For those who, like me, have been around for a while the image of Volvos has changed beyond all recognition, from boring beige estates driven by people like my tank top-wearing geography teacher to prestige motors people aspire to owning.

One such is the latest XC60 which we tried out in near top-of-the-range R-Design T6 trim and with a recharge plug in hybrid power system.

Something else that geography teacher could not have dreamt of are mpg figures of over 100 thanks to an 87bhp electric motor which can power this substantial SUV for around 30 miles without using a drop of precious petrol.

Alongside electricity the car boasts Volvo’s excellent 2-litre petrol engine which means a combined 340bhp – 0 to 60 in a very rapid 5.6 seconds and a more modest 112mph top speed.

This XC60 is the second generation of Volvo’s premium mid-size SUV, and brings new levels of sophistication, connectivity, efficiency and safety to the class. It also showcases the company’s award-winning design – it was named World Car of the Year in 2018 and is Volvo’s best-selling model globally, the second-best-seller in the UK.

On the inside, the XC60 combines elegant Scandinavian design, top quality natural materials, skilled craftsmanship and the innovative Sensus entertainment and control system to create a modern, luxurious place in which to travel.

There’s loads of room for five adults to sit in comfort and a large load capacity – 483 litres with rear seats up or 1,410 litres with the rear seats down (slightly less in hybrid versions).

Every XC60 is extremely well equipped as standard and comes with an automatic gearbox, iPad-style, swipe-able large centre console infotainment and control system, a premium sat-nav and great connectivity thanks to the Volvo On Call app, which can control some car functions remotely and has an emergency and tracking service.

XC60 models come with petrol, diesel and petrol-electric plug-in hybrid powertrain choices giving from 197 to 405hp with CO2 emissions from as little as 47g/km. There are two petrol (B5 and B6), two diesel (B4 and B5) and three petrol-electric plug-in hybrid versions.

The XC60 was also the first Volvo fitted with Steering Support, a technologically advanced safety aid that can automatically apply the steering or provide additional input in an emergency to help avoid a collision.

Reflecting that upmarket image Volvo say they see the XC 60’s main rivals as the Audi Q5, BMW X3, Land Rover Discovery Sport and Mercedes-Benz GLC.

The entry-level Momentum starts at £40,460 in FWD diesel form and other trim levels are Inscription, Expression (Recharge Plug-in Hybrid T6 only) dynamic, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription and Inscription Pro.

Our car had several pack options which boosted it’s on the road price to £58,645 from the car’s base price of £52,570. These included adaptive cruise control with pilot assist auto brake and steering assist, premium sound system and wireless charging smartphone integration, heated front screen and steering wheel, 360 degree camera view, hands-free power tailgate and power front seats with memory function for the driver.

So thanks to their drive to be at the forefront of design, safety and technology Volvo are enjoying strong sales, weathering the Covid 19 global downturn better that many in the automotive industry… perhaps that geography teacher was just a man ahead of his time?

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By Motoring Editor Steve Howarth