By Ian Strachan
The new Volvo S60 is a first for the Swedish manufacturer in a number of respects. It’s the first Volvo to be built in the company’s US factory in Charleston, South Carolina.
More significantly, it’s the first Volvo not to have a diesel option in its range, signalling a direction of travel for Volvo beyond combustion engines.
This is the third generation S60 and, while previous S60s were always good cars, this iteration moves it on still further and is packed with technology.
In design terms it has smooth, sleek lines and a steeply raked rear screen. I tested the S60 in T5 R-Design spec which is a very sleek beast indeed. The R-Design’s features give you sporty good looks, a Volvo family front end with distinctive narrow headlights, and a striking, high rear end.
Inside you get very supportive leather sports seats, along with a suspension set-up that gives you firmer steering and more “feel” for the road.
The S60 offers a premium alternative to its mainstream rivals. While unmistakably a Volvo, the S60 has a purposeful, refined, and up-to-date look. The interior moves Volvo design on even more, with some interesting and attractive features. It is minimalist without being stark, with most functions controlled via central tablet style touchscreen.
Simple Scandinavian design keeps the interior smart, stylish and practical, with everything where you expect it to be and easy to reach. Seating – in a unique R Design trim – is comfortable for up to five adults, and load carrying capacity is good. A split rear seat expands luggage capacity even more.
Handling is predictable and solid, giving the driver a good feel of the road. Steering is responsive, with just the amount of power assistance you need.
A feature of the S60 is its radical powertrain line-up. It is available exclusively with petrol and petrol-electric hybrid units. The vehicle I drove was powered by a four-cylinder 2.0 litre 250 bhp petrol engine which pulls exceptionally well throughout the range and is very smooth and quiet. It came married to a smooth eight-speed automatic gearbox. Fuel economy is acceptable, returning just under 40 mpg in mixed driving.
Equipment levels are good, with alloy wheels (my car was fitted with a 20 inch alloy option at £850), cruise control, a good sound system, electric windows, electronic climate control, head-up display, satnav, powered driver’s seat, heated front seats, hands free boot opening, leather upholstery and rear view camera all as standard. This is a Volvo so you don’t have to worry about safety. Every safety feature that can reasonably be put on this car is there including pedestrian detection, front collision warning with automatic braking, and lane control.
You also get Volvo on-call which allows you to start the engine, alter the heating/cooling, lock and unlock the doors, add a destination to satnav and access the trip computer from a smartphone or watch.
The Volvo S60 T5 R-Design will take up £37,920 of your disposable income. Options fitted to my car, as well as the 20 inch alloys, included powered rear seat backrests and headrests, powered panoramic sunroof, a spare wheel, metallic paint and an upgraded premium sound system by Bowers and Wilkins. The options added £5,000 to the price.