We’re faced with a lot of decisions as new mothers: prams, car seats, cots, bottles, breast pumps, nappies, baby carriers – shall we go on? Let’s just say there’s a lot of ‘stuff’ that comes with a baby. But nothing is as big as the decision of which car you’re going to drive. On the search for a new SUV, our founder Georgie Abay reviews Volvo’s luxurious mid-size SUV, the XC60 D4 Inscription, and discovers why it’s an award-winning car…
I still remember my first memories of Volvo. I was a little girl and my friend’s mother drove a station wagon. We used to sit in the back on the rear-facing seats and wave at the people behind us. I looked forward to those car trips and as a child, I always felt safe and secure in a Volvo. Safety is, after all, what Volvo is renowned for. In 1959, it pioneered the use of the three-point seatbelt, estimated to have saved over a million lives since then. Years later, Volvos are still exactly that: exceptionally safe (and incredibly stylish, but I’ll get to that). In fact, the company’s aim is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 – both driver and pedestrians. It’s a pretty bold mission, but keep reading and you’ll discover the suite of safety features are like nothing you’ve ever experienced. There’s also the luxe factor that surprised me – I expected safety, but I didn’t realise how luxurious they were.
I’m now a mother of two children – 5 and 6 years – and I’m no longer in the back of the car (no, I’m the taxi driver in the front who spends her mornings and afternoons shuttling children around to various schools and activities). Like most families, we spend a lot of time in the car. And when it comes to what I want from a motor vehicle, safety, a brand focused on sustainability and luxury are more important to me than ever before (if I’m going to spend half my life in a car, I want it to be a special experience). I’m reviewing the diesel-powered Volvo XC60 Inscription, which perfectly suits our family of four. It’s an award-winning SUV (it was awarded Wheels Magazine Car of The Year in 2018) and if I didn’t get excited about cars before test-driving this one, I do now.
“ Safety is, after all, what Volvo is renowned for... Volvo's aim is that no one should be killed or seriously injured in a new Volvo by 2020 ”
Founder Georgie Abay test driving the Volvo XC60 Inscription
Volvo ticks all the safety boxes, but what’s it actually like to drive and how does it look?
And what’s the comfort factor like?
Well, given its modern Scandinavian design, I had high expectations – and I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, it felt a little like what travelling in first-class feels like (I’ve done it once, years ago on a work trip for VOGUE, and have never forgotten that experience).
Being Swedish, the design is flawless. I’ve gone for a sophisticated blonde interior, which pops against the sleek charcoal exterior. There’s certainly nothing mumsy about this SUV – it couldn’t be more stylish. And if you forget the heritage behind the car, Volvo has even embroidered a little Swedish flag into the driver’s seat (there are lots of little thoughtful details that you discover as you drive this car). The luxurious leather-lined cabin features décor panels in Driftwood – a distinctive wood treatment inspired by the natural force of water, wind and waves, unique to the latest Volvo cars. It’s super luxe and at first, it all feels so nice, I don’t even want the kids in the car.
The air system is something else. The ‘CleanZone’ feature lets you and your passengers enjoy clean, healthy cabin air and it monitors incoming air and shuts the cabin’s air intakes if harmful substances are detected. If you suffer from allergies as I do, you’ll love that an efficient cabin filter helps keep the incoming air free from dust, pollen and other particles.
The car features a ‘Four-zone Climate System’, which allows the driver, front-seat passenger and outer rear seat passengers to create their own individual climate comfort zone (this is ideal for my husband and me who are always on different pages when it comes to how cold it is. It’s also great for the kids who are usually complaining about being hot and cold at the same time). All cabin climate settings are easily controlled using intuitive touch screen controls.
There’s also a power-operated panoramic roof – the kids loved this; plus heated seats (I’ve never driven a car with heated seats in the front and back of a car before – this is next-level luxury). Put it this way: it’s the most luxurious car I’ve ever driven.
And Volvo knows you lead a busy life, too. If you find yourself with a flat phone battery, there’s an extra-high-voltage power outlet at the back of the tunnel console allows you to connect or charge appliances in your car from your phone to your laptop (and Volvo being Volvo, for safety reasons, the power outlet is hidden behind a pull-down cover).
The portrait-style touch screen features everything you could need and more: a 360° camera which shows you a high-resolution bird’s eye view of the area surrounding your Volvo, sat-nav, digital radio, Bluetooth and smartphone mirroring for Apple and Android devices.
And finally, perhaps something all mothers will love is the integrated booster seats – yes, no more aesthetically unpleasing car seats for children old enough for a booster. They’re built in – it’s brilliant. For children still in a car seat, the XC60 features ISOFIX mounting points – the safest way to fit a child seat in your Volvo.
You can read a comprehensive list of all the comfort features here.
“ They’re even aware of when you’re tired. ‘Driver Alert Control’ gently alerts if your driving behaviour shows signs of distraction or tiredness. While the speed limiter helps ensure that you don't exceed a set speed ”
Not surprisingly, the suite of safety systems is outstanding, and I have never felt safer in a car. The ‘Pilot Assist Drive’ supplements ‘Adaptive Cruise Control’ by adding gentle steering support to help keep the car centred in its lane and at a set speed. There’s also a ‘Distance Alert’ feature which helps you keep a proper distance to the vehicle ahead by displaying a warning symbol if you’re too close this is particularly handy for parents who are easily distracted by kids in the back. A couple of times, I got preoccupied with the kids and the car alerted me to being too close and put the brakes on. There’s also ‘Oncoming Lane Mitigation’ – again a fantastic feature for parents. Using automatic steering assistance, this system helps you avoid collisions with oncoming vehicles. If you drift across the lane markings in the way of an oncoming vehicle, your car steers back into clear space.
Volvo is first to market with many things, including the ‘Oncoming Mitigation by Braking’ feature – a Volvo safety world-first, that can detect if a vehicle heads straight towards your car on the wrong side of the road. If a collision can’t be avoided, it will brake your car automatically to further help reduce the effects of an impact. ‘City Safety’ is another Volvo safety innovation, which detects other vehicles as well as pedestrians, cyclists and large animals – day or night. The function supports you with audible, visible and brake pulse warnings when needed. If a collision is imminent or if you should turn into the path of an oncoming vehicle in an intersection, City Safety can brake automatically to help you avoid or mitigate an impact.
Supporting Volvo’s mission, this car is built to stop you having an accident. ‘Prepared Front Safety Belts’ tighten electrically to help provide maximum protection when your Volvo detects an imminent collision or run-off road accident. If a collision is avoided, the front safety belts unroll again without needing to be serviced. There’s also a knee airbag installed above the pedals on the driver’s side, which helps to protect the driver’s lower legs in the event of a frontal collision.
There’s also ‘energy-absorbing interior’, which means all the panels and door sides are padded with energy-absorbing materials to help reduce the risk of injury to the car’s passengers. Plus ‘tempered side windows’ feature glass that is three to five times stronger than ordinary glass at the same thickness. The tempered glass helps enhance safety in the event of a collision or a glass breakage and breaks into small pieces to help reduce the risk of injury. Volvo has literally thought of everything to keep you safe.
They’re even aware of when you’re tired. ‘Driver Alert Control’ gently alerts if your driving behaviour shows signs of distraction or tiredness. While the speed limiter helps ensure that you don’t exceed a set speed (I know how keen you are to get to your destination, particularly if the kids are fighting in the back).
I really liked the ‘Welcome Lighting’ and ‘Home Safe Light Enhancing’ security features. As I approached the car at night, exterior light sources illuminate the closest surroundings for 30 seconds when you unlock using the remote. This also turns on interior lighting. When leaving the car, just pull the headlight stalk to light up the path to your door.
And this is just the beginning (there’s even a first-aid kid – like I said, they’ve thought of everything).
You can get a full, comprehensive rundown of the safety features here.
“ Perhaps something all mothers will love is the integrated booster seats - yes, no more aesthetically unpleasing car seats for children old enough for a booster. They’re built in – it’s brilliant ”
Georgie carries Away luggage
If you’re after a luxurious mid-size SUV which feels like you’re flying first class, this is without question, the best family car on the market. As someone who lives in her car – it ticks all the boxes (it even ticked boxes I didn’t know I needed to tick). It’s obviously an incredibly luxurious and stylish car, which makes it a pleasure to drive (I was very excited every time I got to drive the car), but more than that it’s also safe and smart – it does a lot of the thinking for you. For busy parents, it’s like an extra helping hand. And with two young children, I’ll take all the help I can get.
The vehicle reviewed in this article was the Volvo XC60 D4 Inscription with optional Lifestyle Pack (Heated front seats, Panoramic Sunroof, Tinted Rear Glass) and Power Side Support.