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The Volvo XC60: Europe's favourite SUV

By raccars Published

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The Volvo XC60 was Europe's best-selling medium size SUV in 2015. Why?

Lately all the attention at Volvo seems to have focused upon the second generation XC90 and the forthcoming new S90 saloon, but in the background the medium sized XC60 SUV has been putting in a record performance. 2015 was its best-selling year yet at 159,617 units world-wide and since 2009 the XC60 has been Volvo's best-selling model.

In fact, sales of the XC60 have risen steadily every year since its release in 2008, bucking the usual lifecycle sales trends. 2015 was the first time Volvo reached the top of the very competitive SUV market, while last year also happened to see SUVs become the best-selling market sector, beating superminis for the first time.

Clearly if the XC60 can put in this kind performance at this late stage of its lifecycle, an update along the lines of the extremely successful new XC90 could produce something really special...

Precursors to the Volvo XC60

Overall 2015 was a spectacular year for Volvo, which appears to have finally gained the premium status it has been working towards for some years now. The updated XC90 was universally applauded while the forthcoming new S90 promises to offer a serious challenge to its German rivals. The success has been a long time coming, however. Until recent years Volvo had become pigeonholed by its huge, staid, boxy, very, very safe and reliable estates but these were in fact only a small part of some really rather impressive output over the years. Here some of Volvo's other biggest hits:

P1800

Not only one of the best Volvos ever but often considered one of the loveliest cars ever designed, the P1800 from 1960 was made famous by the TV series 'The Saint', where it was as smooth and elegant as its driver, Roger Moore. He was so impressed he bought a P1800 for his own use and has remained a Volvo fan ever since.

Volvo 164

175bhp was an awful lot of horsepower in 1971, and in the 164E it was accompanied by high end luxury and a distinctly premium feel. The original 164 executive saloon, released in 1968, offered a creditable alternative to the Mercedes of the time.

Volvo 240

This series became the default estate choice for busy families in the Eighties. Its iconic, square shape was a familiar sight outside schools and in supermarket car parks but also boasted a respectable racing career. It was cavernous, tenacious and practically bulletproof.

C70 Coupe

The first serious sign that a change was afoot at Volvo came in the late Nineties with the super sleek C70 Coupe and its later convertible variant. It never quite achieved the success that it could - and probably should - have done, despite a new connection with 'The Saint', when driven by Val Kilmer in the eponymous 1997 film. However it did sow the seeds for a new and more stylish era for Volvo.

Volvo XC90

After 12 years in the market, the first generation XC90 SUV could still show the competition a thing or two and although an update was more than due, its loss has been mourned by many. It's not overstating the case to say that the XC90 changed Volvo's image.

Volvo V60 Polestar

A triumph of racy style and performance, the Volvo V60 Polestar competes with the likes of Audi as a high performance estate. Despite its modern looks, the V60 Polestar demonstrates a retro feel thanks to a 3.0 litre straight six engine producing 350bhp and four wheel drive, at a time when Volvo is graduating towards four cylinder engines and its Scalable Product Architecture (SPA). However it's a great weapon to have in bad weather conditions and a treat to ride in all year round. The Polestars are, strangely, underrated gems in today's market.

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