When it was announced that Volvo was being sold to Chinese firm Geely, there were a fair number of sceptics. They were worried that the much revered brand would be cheapened, watered down and left to wither, with management inexperienced of looking after a long-established brand. But the transformation has been nothing short of staggering, pushing the brand upmarket with well-engineered products that befit the legendary badge. Now Volvo can be spoken in the same breath as Audi and BMW, with products that stand up well to scrutiny. One model range has already been replaced - the luxury 90 series - to great acclaim, and now it’s time to begin to update the 60 series, with the SUV XC60 kicking off the rejuvenation. And if our first acquaintance with the model is anything to go by, the S60 saloon and V60 estate that will follow are going to be absolute crackers.

Broadly similar in size to the outgoing car, the new XC60 is 44 millimetres longer than before, marginally wider, but with a hefty 90 millimetres stretch to the wheelbase. And while its predecessor was never tight on space, the latest car delivers even more legroom, especially for rear seat passengers. The silhouette of the car remains faithful to the original, but with styling cues taken from the larger XC90, like the Thor’s hammer-effect headlights and bolder front grille. As you would expect from a Volvo, safety has been given a high priority, with autonomous emergency braking as standard, with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, as well as steer assist that helps to drive around obstacles. There’s also a long list of other equipment, including seven airbags, driver drowsiness detection, road sign recognition, a lane keeping assistant and Isofix child safety seat fasteners for the rear outer seats.

All Volvo’s on the Scalable Product Architecture feature the same 2.0-litre petrol, diesel and plug-in hybrid drivetrains, and in the case of our test car, it came fitted with the least powerful 2.0-litre twin-turbocharged diesel engine. Mated to a super smooth eight-speed automatic transmission, performance is effortless, even if it doesn’t actually feel particularly quick. Keep the turbochargers on the boil and it feels sprightlier, but then this isn’t what a Volvo is all about. The engine is nicely refined, and even with the accelerator pedal buried in the footwell, you can only just about hear it. There’s a feint sound from the wind at motorway speeds, but road and tyre noise is neatly suppressed. Ride comfort is impressive with the optional adaptive dampers and air suspension, soaking up bumps and imperfections nicely and smoothing the way ahead. The steering is accurate with great responsiveness through the bends, matched to taut body control and excellent grip that both contrive to keep the XC60 upright when tackling challenging bends. A selection of driving modes allows drivers to choose between Eco, Comfort, Off Road and Dynamic to suit their individual preference. We found that Comfort offered a good blend of attributes in everyday use.

The interior of the XC60 continues the good work that was started with the 90 series of models. The portrait-shaped screen makes another appearance, and is one of the most responsive touchscreens on sale today. Lovely touches like the engine start knob that you twist for the car to burst into life, and the roller-like drive mode selector are just a couple of neat features that serve to make the driving experience of the XC60 impressively out of the ordinary. The air vents are beautifully made, the volume dial for the audio system is nicely finished and the gear lever is nice and chunky. Our test car came with the uprated 12.3-inch digital instrument display that delivers superb graphics and peerless clarity and we would suggest it is well worth the extra £375 it costs.

Cabin quality is every bit as good as the large XC90 and competes well with other premium rivals. The dashboard feels sturdy and is crafted out of softtouch materials. The huge armchair-like seats hug your body firmly in corners and deliver sublime levels of comfort. The driving position is elevated sufficiently to give a good view out, and head and legroom is generous both front and rear. Luggage capacity is perfectly decent at 505 litres, with a well-proportioned space and a relatively low loading sill. Fold the rear chairs down flat and this opens up to 1,432 litres, though this figure does trail the opposition. Oddment space around the cabin is good with a cubby area containing concealed by a rollerblind on the centre console, as well as a huge glovebox, an area underneath the armrest and sizeable door pockets.

On sale | Now In showrooms | Now
Prices | £37,205 to £57,950
Bodystyles | 5-door SUV
Engines | 2.0 Diesel (188bhp), 2.0 Diesel (232bhp) 2.0 Plug-in Hybrid (401bhp)
Trim levels | Momentum, Momentum Pro, R-Design, R-Design Pro, Inscription, Inscription Pro
Also consider | Ford Edge, Mercedes- Benz GLC-Class
Model tested | Momentum D4 AWD
Price | £37,205
Made in | Torslanda, Sweden
Bodystyle | 5-door SUV, 5-seats
Layout | Four-wheel-drive
Engine | 1969cc, 4-cylinder, 16-valve, twin turbo diesel
Stop-start | Yes
Selective catalyst reduction | No
Transmission | 8-speed automatic
Maximum power | 188bhp @ 4,250rpm
Maximum torque | 295lb ft @ 1,750- 2,500rpm
Top speed | 127mph 0-62mph | 8.4secs
CO2 emissions | 133g/km
Economy (urban/extra urban/combined) | 48.7/60.1/55.4mpg
Fuel tank size | 60 litres
Range | 731 miles Insurance group | 31
Company car BIK rate | 28%
Size (length/width with mirrors) | 4,688/2,117mm
Boot space (min/max) | 505/1,432 litres
Kerb/maximum towing weight | 1,802/2,400kg
Euro NCAP rating | Not yet tested