The XC60's handling is good but it's not really a machine to be hurried. Photo Gallery
It's just a jump to the left... then a step to the right.
Or more correctly in this case, a step-down right into the gully for the front of the XC60.
This is because (a) the test route, in the flowing scrub-laden hills east of Perth, comprises ball-bearing gravel, and (b) the XC60 is not an off-road vehicle.
For the uninitiated, ball-bearing gravel is slippery. Oil has less anti-friction qualities and it's rumoured future gearboxes may use Perth gravel to improve cog smoothness.
Combine (a) and (b) and you get (c), stuck.
And it didn't take much. Just that slip to the left and the front fell into a gully where winter rains once washed. The rear left-side wheel promptly jammed itself against an incline.
Even the Volvo's traction system that proudly boasts the ability to switch power to the wheel with the most traction, couldn't pull it free.
It came out after getting a tug from one of the convoy's Land Cruisers but the psychological damage was done — this XC60 was not intended to travel trails.
If that was its low point, the new rival for the Audi Q5, BMW X3, VW Touareg and Lexus RX came up trumps with its breathtakingly sophisticated safety features and luxuriant comfort qualities.
If this is the `next big step` in car safety, what will Volvo wheel out in another 15 years? The only thing the XC60 doesn't do is steer itself.
When a car — or more correctly, the driver — changed from the right to left lane (the one occupied by me), the Volvo went into hysterics.
The red light ahead of the driver — the one that flashes on the windscreen when the car figures you're travelling too close to the car in front — illuminated, flashed and then an alarm sounded.
If you weren't awake by then, you were when the right foot hit the brake pedal and found it firmed and ready for the boot.
That saved the front end of the Volvo. On a smaller scale, sensors will also activate the brakes and prevent the car from accidentally rolling into the parked car ahead of you. That's called City Safety and it's standard on all XC60s, regardless of the model.
Many insurance companies — one exception being the RAC in WA — promptly offered premium savings of up to 10 per cent on the XC60 because of the crash avoidance qualities of City Safety.
But that's not all the XC60 has. There is a lane change warning — the latter using the same heart-wrenching alarm as the frontal impact warning — that monitors the white line down the edge of the road and senses you are drifting out of your lane.
There's also BLIS which is an acronym for cameras that monitor vehicles in your blind spots and can save a bingle in freeway traffic manoeuvres.
There are park sensors, too, for parking the unexpectedly large proportions of Volvo's medium-sized SUV.
Plus, there are ABS brakes with ESC, roll-over mitigation and protection, lots of airbags, seats that prevent the submarining and whip effects on the human body, and so on. It doesn't get much safer than this and only a complete idiot behind the wheel will come to grief.
But how does it drive? Despite its presentation as a medium-sized luxury SUV, the XC60 is 1.9-tonnes and is only 180mm shorter than the seven-seat XC90.
It feels — as a Volvo should — about as solid and secure on the road as any luxury saloon.
But it reveals its weight through corners. Though it's all-wheel drive, the system powers the front wheels and only drives the back when front slip is detected.
Handling is good but it's not really a machine to be hurried.
The engine is Volvo's long-standing five-cylinder turbo-diesel unit that has few vices and, despite pulling the XC60's portly weight, economical.
The six-speed automatic should get most of the credit because it provides a tight set of ratios that suit the engine's narrow rev range.
In the dirt the all-wheel drive comes into play. The XC60 feels as secure on gravel roads as it does on bitumen, enhanced by standard electronic stability control that minimises the front and rear from sliding out on corners.
It's also comfortable in a supple, rather than soft, manner with excellent sound suppression over the loose-stone roads.
Seating is for five and there's decent foot room in the rear thanks to a low centre tunnel.
The rear seats split and fold perfectly flat with the large cargo area set over a substantial wheel well with — unfortunately — a space-saver spare.
Cabin treatment is all Volvo with plenty of grained leather, simple white-on-black switchgear and high build quality.
The electronic park brake supersedes the awkward foot-operated system on other XC models and is a perfect accompaniment to the car's upmarket presentation.
Engine: 2.4-litre, inline 5-cyl, turbo-diesel
Power: 136kW @ 4000rpm
Torque: 400Nm @ 2000-2750rpm
Performance: 0-100km/h: 9.9 seconds, top speed: 200km/h
Economy (official): 8.3 litres/100km, (tested): 9.7 litres/100km
Emissions: 219g/km (Corolla: 175g/km)
Transmission: 6-speed automatic, sequential; constant 4WD