Tue, 03 October 2017
When I test drive cars in Bahrain it’s fun but it gets a little formulaic. I acquaint myself with the controls, cruise from one familiar place to another, navigate pretty much the same streets and, finally, I try to find a new place to take some pictures – which is challenging on a small island.
So, it was a literal breath of fresh air when I was invited to Turkey to drive the new Volvo XC60. After a few hours on a plane, a couple more in an airport lounge, and another brief flight, I had arrived.
The weather was absolutely beautiful. It was warm but not humid and there was a gentle breeze that lingered all day long – perfect for a test drive.
The other motoring journalists and I were picked up by an entourage of sleek new XC60s and driven to brunch at Yuvarlakcay. It’s a beautiful river located in the Topgozu Canyon – between the provinces of Koycegiz and Ortaca – that feeds off the snowy waters of the mountain range.
After sampling some local dishes, I couldn’t wait to get behind the wheel of this premium SUV. The time had come.
To say that Volvo has come a long way over the past decade is an understatement. Long gone are the days when the marque was regarded as a nothing more than a safe choice. Don’t get me wrong, these cars are still incredibly safe (more on that later) but they have been revamped, redesigned and are honestly some of the best-looking models on the market right now.
The XC60’s exterior has an athletic sculpture with a subtle, timeless quality. The interior is a masterful composition of well-resolved architecture, quality materials and the very latest technology – all beautifully blended together.
It was an hour and a half drive to the Golden Key Bördübet hotel and, despite being worn out from travelling, I was eager to hit the road. I did have a slight issue connecting my iPod via Bluetooth, but that might have been because the language was set to Turkish! After a relatively simple swap over, this stunning SUV was telling me where to go – very politely I might add.
The sound system is worth bragging about too. All drivers know how important the right soundtrack is to a roadtrip, so decent speakers are an absolute must. The XC60’s sound was crystal clear, very loud and had plenty of base – just the way I like it.
The route took us along the highway, through some country lanes and, eventually, up a series of cliffs. Some of the roads on the way to the top had no barriers and looming edges that, although beautiful, evoked great caution.
After a good night’s sleep, I was up early and excited to get back behind the wheel for the next leg of the roadtrip.
When you’re facing a 200km drive, comfort is essential. Luckily for me the seats in the XC60 were great and provided my poor old back with plenty of support and with room to stretch out.
For anyone not lucky enough to have visited Turkey, I highly recommend it. The roads are fantastic for driving thanks to the seemingly endless stretches. It also proved a perfect location to test the way this model handles.
Some of the turns on route along the coastline were precarious at best and the blind corners and hairpins are almost as abundant as the stunning scenery. My XC60 never faltered, not once – I wish I could say the same for myself. While the locals appeared to take corners with Lewis Hamilton-esque speed, I was quite happy to take my time.
This model definitely has the power to surprise. With four variants available, you can pick an option that suits you best and, believe me, whichever you choose, you’ll love it.
I spent the majority of my time in the AWD T6, which boasts a powerful 320bhp engine. The torque, throttle response and steering left nothing to be desired, and, trust me, when you put your foot down you hurtle along with gusto.
We made our way to Akyaka, an unspoilt village regarded as one of the must-visit destinations in the coastal province. Slightly off the beaten track, it proved a good opportunity to take in some scenery before stopping for lunch.
After a driver swap, we were off again on the next leg of the journey for a coffee break at Sakar Hill, a historic location prominent during the Ottoman Empire reign in the 1520s, which was used by the army led by Kanuni Sultan Suleyman on their route to their Rhodes conquest.
Getting there requires effort – that’s putting it mildly. Uphill and off-road, I got the chance to really push the all-wheel drive capabilities of this SUV and it lived up to my expectations. Gravelly paths, moderately steep climbs and equivalent descents were no problem for the XC60 – save for getting a little dirty.
When we reached the top, the view was breathtaking. A vast expanse surrounds the lapping waters below and it proved to be a tranquil experience.
As we got back into the cars to make our way back to the hotel, I had a chance to play around with the on-board tech, which was great fun. The Sensus infotainment system in this vehicle is state-of-the-art to say the least. Intuitive and simple to use, it’s among the finest I’ve ever experienced, and the fact that the nine-inch screen is laid out vertically rather than horizontally definitely adds to the appeal.
Although the XC60 I drove was packed with a plethora of lifesaving technology, it was fortuitous I didn’t have to use it. There is far too much to mention, but one of the highlights is a new safety system called Oncoming Lane Mitigation, which uses Steer Assist to help avoid head-on collisions.
The Blind Spot Indication System also utilises Steer Assist to reduce the risk of lane-changing collisions. Add to this an abundance of airbags and meticulous attention to structural integrity and it’s clear that Volvo is on track for its plan to have zero fatalities in its cars by 2020.
The last leg of the journey took us back up the twisting mountains to the hotel. When we arrived the sun had sadly set – figuratively and literally – on my time with the beautiful XC60. What an experience! Motorcity is the Kingdom’s Volvo dealer. Call 17 736-222 to book a test drive.