It’s a hot hot day in Bombay! The winter has just ended, humidity is at its peak and the sun’s shining bright in the afternoon sky. I’ve just landed in the city. As I walk out of the airport, I’m greeted by the Volvo test driver, who shows me to the car I’ll be driving over the next few days. The car you see on these pages is the new Volvo XC60 – well, it’s not all new – it comes with a new look front end, sportier bumpers and R-Design accents. Under the hood is where things get interesting – there’s a brand new 4 cylinder Drive-E engine. But more on that later.

This car looks imposing. Two reasons for the same. The first one being its sheer size. It’s 4.65m long and 1.9m wide. Thats nearly 200mm longer than the RangeRover Evoque. It’s not that much bigger than the Q5, but it’s sleeker stance and swept back design give the impression that it’s bigger.

Which brings me to the second reason why this car looks imposing – the R-Design package. Now, R-Design is to Volvo what an M-Sport package is to BMW. It doesn’t endow the car with any additional performance, but it makes the cars sportier looking, adding R-Design badging across the interior & exterior, and sticking on a sportier, more chiseled looking bumper on the front and rear. The XC60 is a pretty looking car even without the R-Design package. Its upward sloping belt line forms the basis of its profile. Couple this with its slightly downward sloping roofline which blends with the gorgeous rear tail lights, and what you have is a car that grabs eye balls wherever it goes. It’s a well balanced design on the whole – and the R-Design package dials it to eleven.

Get inside, and you’re greeted by some of the best seats I’ve seen in this segment. For starters, they look handsome and inviting. They’re clad in leather, offer ample thigh, back and lumbar support and as a bonus, come with a heating feature too. Bombay’s heat means we never really got down to using that feature, but I can imagine it being useful in other parts of the country. Volvo really has set the benchmark in terms of comfort in every segment that it’s a part of.

While the seats impress, the rest of the interior doesn’t. The centre console is the same slab of buttons you get in every other Volvo (bar the new XC90) and is beginning to look dated. It wouldn’t have been so much of a problem if it were functional, but it fails to deliver on that front too. Not only does it look somewhat drab, it’s unintuitive too. Volvo’s launched an ultra modern, tablet like interface on the new XC90 that will eventually percolate down to the rest of its range, but for now you’re going to have to make do with this. Positives in the interior include the layout, the space and the music system – which knows how to crank some tunes. You’ve got AUX/ USB support and the sound quality is top notch.

Getting my seat into position, I press the Start/Stop button on the centre console. The engine springs to life. We’re driving the D4 variant powered by Volvo’s next generation Drive-E 2.0L diesel coupled to an 8-speed auto-box. This engine is a game changer for the company – mainly because this is the only engine that Volvo will fit to its cars over the next few years. Modular in its tuning capacities – in this car it makes 181bhp and 400Nm of torque. In the future, this engine will be available in various states of tune – courtesy a combination of superchargers and turbochargers and yes, electric motors too.

Its upward sloping belt line forms the basis of its profile. Couple this with its slightly downward sloping roofline which blends with the gorgeous rear tail lights, and what you have is a car that grabs eye balls wherever it goes.

Power delivery is fairly linear – there’s a hint of lag but the car picks up after 1600RPM or so and then has a strong mid and high range. The gearbox has been tuned for efficiency, so it’s better to drive this car progressively – not aggressively.

We’ve decided to take the car to “The LOST Party”, a 24 hour, 3 day musical festival organised at Saltar Lake. On the expressway, the car behaves impeccably. The dynamics are pretty sorted as this suspension is tuned for highway driving – slightly on the stiffer side. What this means is that it’s not really suited to smaller B-roads and city roads. That’s is a pity, since most XC60 drivers will end up using their cars for their daily commute within the city.

After a two and half hour drive, we’re at Saltar. The organisers have done an absolutely fabulous job to set up the campsite. It’s right next to Saltar Lake. The stage has been set, the tents are in place and people are just starting to arrive. Over the next three days, the event will focus on bringing upcoming artists in the electronica, trip hop, Nu Disco, electro swing and jazz genres together, under one roof.

Parked in front of the 3D “LOST” structure, the XC60’s strengths shine through. It’s a smart looking car, it’s a lovely highway cruiser, it has got a refined engine and it’s spacious and comfortable on the inside. It doesn’t pretend to be something it’s not. It’s a front wheel drive soft-roader, and it wears that badge proudly. If Volvo can fix the low speed ride, this car would most definitely be a winner. For the moment though, it’s a decent option to consider if you’re on the market for a sporty looking, mid-size family soft-roader.