With our latest Stop the Crash events happening towards the end of March, it seemed appropriate to write a piece about one of our demo cars, the new Volvo XC60, for a couple of reasons.
The first reason is the number of awards it has won in the few short months since it became available. This week it has been voted UK Car of the Year by a panel of 27 of the UK’s leading motoring journalists, who all write for prestigious titles such as The Sunday Times, The Independent, The Telegraph, Top Gear, Auto Express, Car, etc.
It has also won Best Medium Crossover in the UK Car of the Year Awards and Best Large SUV in the Fleet World Honours. It has been named Japan’s Car of the Year and has also won the UK’s Car Tech Awards for Safest Car and Best Safety Technology.
One of the reasons it has won all these awards is down to the ground-breaking safety technology fitted to the car which saw it achieve the highest ever score in the Euro NCAP crash tests making it the safest car currently on sale in Europe. It was crowned the best-performing large off-roader and the car with the best overall performance of 2017 in Euro NCAP’s 2017 Best in Class safety awards.
The XC60 scored a near-perfect 98 per cent in the Adult Occupant category, and 95 per cent for Safety Assist. Its advanced technology includes pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, fully automatic emergency braking and a system to help you steer around an object in an emergency. Pilot Assist, Volvo’s pioneering semi-autonomous driving aid that helps keep the vehicle in its lane and at the desired speed on the motorway, is also available.
The XC60 has joined its stablemates the S90 and V90 as the only three cars to have ever achieved a perfect score in each of the three Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) tests – AEB City (low speed), AEB Inter Urban (high speed) and AEB Pedestrian. Volvo has made history with this feat as, with these three cars, the manufacturer now holds all the top three rankings in all three Euro NCAP AEB categories simultaneously.
Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system is now available across the XC60 range. This technologically advanced safety system takes the strain out of long car journeys by assisting the driver with braking, steering and accelerating, while keeping the car a safe distance from any vehicle in front. This system indicates Volvo’s clear steps towards fully autonomous cars.
The XC60 also features many other ground-breaking safety systems, including Steer Assist which helps with the steering to avoid potential collisions (active from 31mph to 62mph) and Oncoming Lane Mitigation which will steer you back into your lane should you inadvertently begin to drift out of it. If this involves driving off the road and onto a verge, then the standard Run-off Road protection system kicks in to protect the occupants. This system features a seatbelt tightener to restrict movement and a collapsible seat structure to reduce the chance of spinal damage. Both systems are new to the mid-size SUV segment and highlight Volvo’s forward-thinking approach to safety.
The absolute state-of-the-art in AEB technology
The previous XC60 was the first production car to be fitted with AEB as standard in what was one of Volvo’s traditional industry-leading safety moves – it was one of the most solid and safe feeling cars I’ve ever driven. My last one, a fully equipped R-Design Pro, therefore departed with a tinge of sadness, but mixed with a rich anticipation of what the new one would be like. Hopes were high as I’ve driven a few examples of the very impressive new XC90s, and had some brief experience of the new XC60 on our last Stop the Crash events back in November where we used it to demonstrate the Lane Keep Assist technology to some of the UK’s leading fleet managers.
I haven’t been disappointed. On long journeys, the old one was incredibly comfortable but Volvo have improved both the ride and handling (a lot) and the seats (already very good). The interior is a real leap forward both in style and technology, with the excellent Sat Nav and most of the car’s other systems controlled through the 9” touch screen in the centre of the car.
One feature I particularly like is that the main instrument binnacle is now a single large display screen with the Sat Nav graphics for upcoming junctions repeated much more clearly than in the previous car between the dials. This makes directions easier to follow and less distracting. Another thing I’ve noticed is the various sensors that trigger the AEB seem to be more sensitive than in the old car. The simple solution to this is that you start to sit slightly further back from the car in front than you might have done previously which is obviously a good thing as it then gives you more time to react. Studies by Thatcham Research a few years ago showed that AEB can reduce rear-end shunts by up to 38% and I suspect that, if they repeated the same study today using the new XC60, the figures might be even more impressive.
Packed with clever equipment
Volvo’s reputation for safety is hard won, and the brand shows no signs of dropping the ball in this regard. For example, in its native Sweden Volvo has a team of accident investigators who visit crash scenes in order to learn how its cars can be made safer.
It’s no surprise therefore that alongside the traditional strong bodyshell and multitude of airbags every XC60 is available with equipment designed to prevent you from crashing in the first place. This includes systems that can take control of the car’s speed and steering in order to guide it away from potentially dangerous situations, such as drifting into oncoming traffic or pulling out in front of a car in your blind spot.
All XC60s also come with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection integrated within the autonomous emergency braking, plus road edge detection to reduce the chances of the car inadvertently leaving the road.
Although still a long way from being a fully autonomous car, using the XC60’s optional Pilot Assist combines adaptive cruise control with active steering to help reduce fatigue on monotonous motorway journeys.
We’ll have at least one XC60 on our next Stop the Crash events on March 20 and 21. If you’d like to experience this amazing new car’s safety systems for yourself, as part of our extensive driver assist technology demonstration days for fleet decision makers, register your places here.