Hunk with a tech brain
Glamour model: Volvo XC60
Time to set off on that business trip. First, set the car satnav. So there you are, punching letters on the dashboard screen to spell out your destination, right? Actually no. You’re sitting comfortably indoors, finishing your breakfast and entering the details on to an app on your phone. Press send and hey presto, the destination is remotely delivered to your car parked outside, all ready for you to make a rapid departure.
How cool is that? It’s one of the most intriguing features on the new Volvo XC60, a car that’s stuffed full of chic Scandinavian design and clever high-tech features. It’s not only the satnav that you can pre-set from indoors or somewhere else away from the car. Cold day? Get the heater warming up the cabin before you head outside. Heading into summer? Pre-set the climate control for a comfortably cooled car ahead of a trip.
The XC60 is Volvo’s mid-size SUV, sitting in the Swedish car maker’s range between the smaller XC40 and top-end XC90. It’s a glamorous hunk that is helping to contribute to Volvo’s current success. Last year was a record one for the company, selling more than 700,000 cars around the world for the first time in its 93-year history, with its sales in the UK up by nearly 12% over the previous year. That bucked the trend of a market downturn, so Volvo is clearly doing something right.
Confident styling, strong performance and good driver engagement all contribute to the appeal of the XC60, as well as the decent kit levels that come with the car. Standard equipment on all versions includes heated front seats and steering wheel, which are very welcome provisions on a chilly winter day. Each has a choice of three heat levels, although you’d need to be north of the Arctic Circle to need the top one.
The XC60 has been updated for 2020 with revised specification. The range now includes this B4 diesel model with mild hybridisation applied to its two-litre engine. Grippy handling, a calm ride and very decent refinement are all attributes, there’s a 483-litre boot, and economy is around 38 mpg. The 0-62 mph acceleration time is a brisk 8.3 seconds. Extensive safety kit includes a driver drowsiness warning, to sound an alert if you start flagging at the wheel at the end of a busy working day. The list price is £43,236, and the XC60 range starts from £32,935 on-the-road.
Perfect fit for fun motoring
Business savvy: Skoda Kamiq
Compact SUVs are currently big news and in high demand. They have a similar highish driving position and work-life practicality, but with a tighter footprint than their larger cousins. This is one of the newest additions to the pack, the Skoda Kamiq. It’s a slickly-styled and smart-looking addition to the growing ranks of mildly elevated and moderately sized SUV-crossovers, and it competes with the likes of the Volkswagen T-Cross, Seat Arona and Peugeot 2008.
What’s with the name? Kamiq derives from the Inuit people who inhabit northern Canada and Greenland, and the meaning of the word is “something that fits perfectly”. That includes it having a “q” at the end of its name, joining the Karoq and Kodiaq in the Volkswagen range.
Skodas have come such a long way since the days when the cars were the popular butt of a myriad of jokes and the Kamiq is a very decently performing, well-mannered and likeable car as a work vehicle or for family life. At 4.2 metres long it is around half a metre shorter than the XC60, but still manages a respectable 400 litres of boot space, extendable to 1,395 litres with the rear seats folded.
Where the Kamiq scores over some of its main rivals is in cabin quality. Its interior plastic surfaces are pliant, where others, such as the VW T-Cross, are hard to the touch. The Kamiq also has a larger satnav-infotainment screen than some, at a generous 9.2 inches, located atop the upper dash.
It feels sprightly through the gears and rides comfortably. Steering feel is not quite as pert as that of some of its key opponents, but it is likeable to drive and more keenly priced than some of the others, with the Kamiq range starting from £17,700 for a one-litre petrol model. This 1.6 litre TDI diesel in SE L trim is a good bet as a business savvy choice. It does the benchmark 0-62 mph in 10.2 seconds, and has economy in the lower-50s mpg.