The Swedish brand continues to deliver excellent well styled machines to the market. The latest is a smart mid-size saloon the S60. It is built on using the same SPA scalable platform shared with other larger Volvos. The V60 estate was launched first to great acclaim and is one of our favourite load carriers at Motorhub. The saloon is a more sensible business suit. The five-seater is a great effort to rival the main premium saloons from Audi and BMW.
Instantly identifiable as a modern Volvo you cannot miss the Thor’s Hammer headlights. The grille and big logo is smart, compared to a BMW’s it is very handsome. The car’s flanks feature strong contours while the boot and rear overall is very well resolved. Like its larger S90 sibling, a very imposing car, the S60 is only slightly smaller is beautifully proportioned too. My test car came in R-Design trim so it looked sharp and sporty out of the box. Smart 18 inch alloys and slightly aggressive styling place it ahead of premium rivals in our eyes.
Inside the cabin is the familiar friend we know from the new range of Volvos. There is an upright iPad-like centre touch screen display at the heart of its ‘Sensus’ infotainment system. There is a choice of three digital dash display options to give you a sense of customisation – our car had an excellent HUD also. Our R-Design’s black leather seating is as you’d expect – super comfortable and ergonomic. Like nearly all right hand drive cars with touch pad interfaces – if you’re right handed Volvo’s can be tricky to write on with your left finger – even if you can play guitar!
Safety features and technology are near limitless in the S60 (grade and optional pack dependent) as the SPA platform allows all the latest electronics, passive and active safety assistance systems depending on how deep your pockets are. Volvo’s City Safety technology is standard on all Volvo models. It combines automatic braking functionality and collision avoidance systems to cover a range of potential accident scenarios. Volvo says its “City Safety is the only system on the market that detects pedestrians, cyclists and large animals such as moose and deer.”
No diesel is available with the Drive-E engine range. This deliberate choice by Volvo mightn’t have been Ireland’s preference as it will impact on sales. Business users in Ireland can reclaim VAT on fuel but there is no such option with petrol! This is a critical hammer blow (see what I did there? I’ll get my coat) as the key rivals still offer diesel power. ‘Twin-engine’ T6 and T8 PHEV plug-in petrol electric hybrids are featured in the global range – both are AWD (all wheel drive). Our T5 test car features a 2 litre four cylinder petrol engine with turbocharger. 250hp and 350nm of torque are produced and delivered to the front wheel via an 8-speed automatic gearbox. 0-100km/h takes a brisk 6.5 seconds and there are three driving modes: normal is the default with an eco and sport mode available. CO2 is 152g/km. On the road the large alloys are built for smooth roads.
The T5 is swift when provoked and composed. Where the S60 falls short is in its dynamic handling compared to the runaway class leader the BMW 3 Series. The 3 is sharper and more engaging for enthusiastic driving but and this is the key – it is not as handsome as the S60 though. In mundane day to day driving I’d have the S60 but for fun and involvement the BMW is still the king. Our car had the motorway friendly pilot assist fitted. This semi autonomous driving option works up to 130km/h and can steer and keep you in-lane while maintaining a safe distance from the vehicle in front.