This 2018 victory for the Volvo XC60 marks a turning point in the fortunes of the Swedish brand. Volvo has managed to secure a final-stage berth three times during this century’s Car of the Year testing – the V70 wagon in 2000, the S40/V40 in 2004, and the current XC90 in 2014 – but the class-leading XC60 represents the first time a Volvo has achieved total cohesion in design and execution.
Against a 22-strong field of contenders, spanning a light hatchback to a mega-buck luxury sedan and covering pretty much every vehicle type in between, the XC60 went from strength to strength to claim the coveted award for automotive excellence. Its stellar proving-ground performance in dynamics, active safety, and interior presentation, packaging and quality of finish were consolidated by just how well it works in the real world.
“No matter where you look, the Volvo XC60 feels like a premium product”, said Editor Alex Inwood. “In an era defined by superficiality, the XC60 is exactly the product we expect from an engineering-led brand like Volvo. It sets a new global benchmark for medium SUVs and is a deserving winner of the Wheels Car of the Year award.”
Competing against close rivals like the new-generation Audi Q5 and BMW X3, the XC60’s build quality, attention-to-detail, and innovation saw it rise to the forefront of the COTY judge’s critical appraisal. And alongside the challenge put forward by Mazda’s capable and more affordable CX-5, the XC60 demonstrated its premium ability in a number of key areas.
The XC60’s podium-topping victory marks the first time a Swedish brand has claimed a COTY title. In fact, none of the three 2018 finalists (Alfa Romeo, Skoda and Volvo) had ever won the award, making it an exciting race to the finish. But it was the XC60’s sophistication and its unwavering consistency that thrust it clear of the competition.
“You can see and feel the love and care devoted to the XC60 during its development, not to mention Volvo’s ambition”, wrote Wheels Senior Journalist, Nathan Ponchard, in our 196-page Car of the Year bumper edition now on sale in newsagents and supermarkets.
“And the result is a terrific family SUV – at once both safe, stylish, good value and fun to drive – as well as a deserving Car of the Year winner. Finally, the billions of dollars the Chinese have invested in Sweden’s proud and often-pioneering 90-year-old marque have come to fruition.”
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