Parkers overall rating: 4 out of 5 4.0

Volvo XC60 performance is about both on and off-road, plus the balance between acceleration and fuel consumption. Choice will also be affected by what type of driving you do and your annual mileage, so consider this when deciding whether to go for petrol or diesel.

Petrol engines

The only petrol engine in the XC60 range – a 3.0-litre T6 – is the least popular as its fuel consumption is just 24mpg while CO2 emissions of 284g/km make it expensive to tax. It's smooth and powerful, plus with 304bhp on tap it reaches 62mph in just 7.3 seconds, but the diesels make far more sense.

Diesel engines

The 163bhp 2.4-litre with the six-speed manual gearbox, delivers a 0-62mph time of 10.4 seconds, while the D5 diesel is actually the same 2.4-litre, five-cylinder engine, but has been tweaked to produce 215bhp plus more pulling power. As a result it manages the 0-62mph benchmark in 8.4 seconds while returning 50.4mpg (with the manual gearbox and stop-start).

However, in mid-2009 a front-wheel drive version badged DRIVe was introduced which uses a 175bhp version of the 2.4D, but with considerably better fuel consumption (47mpg) and lower emissions, plus feels a little more responsive. Meanwhile the D5, which remains an all-wheel drive model, is upgraded to 215bhp offering quicker performance.

A six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission is available as an option and suits the refined nature of the XC60. However, while it offers smooth changes it can sometimes be hesitant to kickdown and isn't ideal for demanding driving.

Volvo also added the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder D4 turbodiesel at the beginning of 2010. This engine has 163bhp and only a little less pulling power than the 2.4-litre D4 engine. It offers the same 49.6mpg economy as the five-cylinder 2.4-litre motor, but it’s a shade quicker from 0-62mph, taking 10.3 seconds.

Parkers recommends

The 215bhp D5 turbodiesel is the best of all worlds as it delivers strong acceleration but the same carbon dioxide emissions and better economy (50.4mpg) than the less powerful diesel motors. A six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission is available as an option and suits the refined nature of the XC60. However, while it offers smooth changes it can sometimes be hesitant to kickdown and isn't ideal for demanding driving.

Volvo describes the XC60 as coupe-like to drive but, while there's no doubting that it's better than many smaller off roaders, it's perhaps not as sporty as the carmaker makes out. Body roll is kept well in check through corners and grip levels are good, while the all-wheel drive system means traction is excellent - especially out of slow corners or roundabouts.

But the steering, though well-weighted, lacks feel and can be a little slow - in corners it requires more turns than you'd expect of a supposedly sporty car. That's not to say the XC60 can't cope with twisting roads and it certainly doesn't feel like a 4x4 to drive. An optional active suspension system called Four-C is available, which alters the ride settings between comfort, advanced and sport.

The R Design versions, introduced in late 2009, have stiffer suspension and more direct steering, making them better in corners.