For evidence of the sheer competition there now is in the mid-sized, premium-branded SUV market, consider this: you can take what amounts to an engine and gearbox from the larger and more expensive XC90 – albeit in detuned form – drop it into a smaller, lighter car, and still fall short of the class standard on performance and drivability.
The XC60’s diesel engine and standard eight-speed automatic gearbox allow it to hit an acceptable standard on acceleration and responsiveness, but it’s impressive in neither respect.
You can see that represented in our recorded acceleration numbers – a like-for-like Audi Q5 is more than half-a-second quicker from rest to 60mph and almost half-a-second quicker from 30mph to 70mph through the gears. You can also quite plainly appreciate it from the driver’s seat.
The eight-speed gearbox feels slightly hesitant both away from a standstill and when swapping ratios under load, and the engine is less free-revving than some comparable diesels.
Where both hit back is under lighter throttle applications and in a more laidback mode of usage, an area in which the XC60 surprised more than one of our testers with its mechanical refinement in particular.