Classy Volvo a cool

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Volvo S60, side
Volvo S60, front, static
Volvo S60, front
Volvo S60, rear
Volvo S60, dashboard
Volvo S60, rear seats
Volvo S60, T5 engine
Volvo S60, interior
Volvo S60, boot

THE latest S60 saloon may be Scandinavian by design but it is the first Volvo to be built at the company's new plant in South Carolina, USA.

In another first the S60 will be the first new Volvo to be sold without a diesel engine signalling the Swedish company's commitment to electrification.

Manufactured in Charleston the S60 saloon goes on sale this month with the first UK model the T5 R-Design Edition costing from £37,920.

It is the third generation of the S60 and certainly the best looking but it is up against some tough German opposition in the shape of the new BMW 3-Series and others as well as recently revamped Jaguar XE.

Very stylish the S60 boasts a superb interior with all the latest technology and as you would expect all Volvo's class-leading safety features.

It may not provide as sporty a drive as the Jag or BMW but it is a very comfortable cruiser and will be dynamic enough for most Volvo buyers.

This new model certainly looks the part with handsome lines, the traditional strong Volvo grille complimented by slim T-shaped LED headlights and daytime running lights as well as nice alloys, high gloss black exterior trim and twin exhaust pipes.

Owners will be able to choose wheels ranging from 18-20 inches but I expect the S60 to be better suited to the smaller size.

Climb inside and the cabin is a delight. There is room for four adults -five for shorter journeys - and the seats are covered in classy Nappa leather.

All the materials and surfaces are soft-touch and the comfortable front seats are power operated.

Attention to detail is everywhere you look and even the air vents are stylish. There is plenty of tech to amuse and Volvo's now familiar upright tablet-style nine-inch Sensus touchscreen control system dominates and controls most of the car's systems.

You can pinch, zoom and swipe functions or use voice control to operate it. As you would expect in a car of this class there is full smartphone operation via Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.

Use your mobile phone to turn it into a WiFi hotspot or use the built-in car modem and a SIM card with data allowance and you have an office on wheels.

Other touches of luxury include heated seats, front and rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, a rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, a CleanZone air quality system and an optional premium sound system from Bowers and Wilkins which is sensational.

The instruments come in the shape of a 12.3-inch driver display that can be personalised and the voice activated control system allows you to change temperature or change music stations, which is just as well as operating the screen on the move can be fiddly and challenging.

On the practical side the boot can take 440 litres of luggage which is not as good as some others in this class and you have to pay an extra £400 if you want the split 60:40 power-folding rear seats.

Under the bonnet on the launch car is Volvo's 2.0-litre four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine which provides 250bhp. More powerful units will arrive later as will some petrol-electric hybrid versions.

All cars have eight-speed automatic transmissions and when the hybrids arrive they will have all-wheel-drive.

The S60 has four drive modes Eco, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic but frankly I did not detect too much difference in any setting.

The saloon is certainly pleasant to drive but it is best thought of as a comfortable cruiser rather than a sports saloon.

It certainly has the best dynamics of any Volvo I have driven and the auto gearbox can also be operated by wheel-mounted paddles but it is happier left to its own devices.

On superb winding Highland roads the S60 offered bags of grip and excellent handling. The suspension dealt well when we came across poor surfaces and the steering is light and accurate.

Capable of 145mph, the acceleration to 62mph in 6.5 seconds was a bonus and made overtaking stress free.

The combined fuel efficiency is rated at 35.3 to 39.8 on the WLTP scale with emissions of 155g/km.

Should you run into trouble, suffice to say that the S60 has more safety systems than I have room to list and the car has the full Euro NCAP five-star rating.

With its striking good looks, cool elegant cabin, technology and safety features the S60 will tempt a lot of buyers with up to 70 per cent of them being from retail customers.

Just under a 1,000 versions of the old model were sold in the UK last year but this newcomer is good enough to raise that figure substantially.

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