Volvo points to

future with new S60

Volvo S60, 2019, front
Volvo S60, 2019, front, action
Volvo S60, 2019, front, static
Volvo S60, 2019, side, static
Volvo S60, 2019, side, action
Volvo S60, 2019, rear
Volvo S60, 2019, rear seats
Volvo S60, 2019, boot
Volvo S60, 2019, Sensus display screen
Volvo S60, 2019, instrument panel
Volvo S60, 2019, interior
Volvo S60, 2019, badge

IT'S the first of a new breed of Volvo, it's built in America and the third generation of the Swedish company's latest S60 saloon will be on the road in a matter of weeks.

A trailblazer for the now Chinese-owned brand, the new S60 is the first non-diesel Volvo since the C70 coupe of more than 20 years ago.

It is also the first car to come from Volvo's new factory in Charleston in South Carolina which will soon become home to the large XC90 SUV as well.

As such the S60 is a hugely important model and comes as Volvo is making a host of changes to its operations.

Priced from £37,920 the latest S60 is entering the premium mid-sized saloon market where it will be an alternative to the likes of Audi's A4 and the Mercedes C-Class.

Initially the S60 will be available only in sporty R-Design trim and powered by a 2.0-litre four cylinder engine developing a healthy 250bhp.

It's a very capable engine and gives the S60 a 0 to 60 acceleration time of 6.5 seconds and top speed of 155mph with fuel economy rated at a best of 39.8mpg. Emissions are 155g/km.

Our run in the new saloon covered hundreds of miles in the Scottish highlands - demanding roads to say the least - and we saw an average of 36.5 to the gallon.

That is not as good as the 76.3mpg the official tests rate its V60 diesel-powered estate car sibling at but then there are no nasty particulates or other pollutants which have given oil burning cars such a bad name.

So kinder to the environment - though possibly not your pocket - the S60 is and it has some surprises up its sleeve on the performance front.

Not only is it lively but in all but the eco mode of its four drive settings the car whooshes up to the legal limit rapidly.

Overtaking is a brisk affair and the eight-speed auto box comes with paddle shifters if needed.

Where the S60 scores is with its comfort and the contoured R-Design seats put it head and shoulders above anything from the German brands in this class.

There is also excellent room in the rear, a fold out armrest and a 442 litre boot which is bigger than that of the Mercedes.

As a tourer the Volvo has to be the pick of the bunch but around town its thirst increases and according to the trip computer we saw an average of just 18mpg - ouch!.

Volvo's decision to drop diesel from its new car line up is purely out of environmental concerns and while such models made up almost 98 per cent of its sales in Britain in 2016 they have fallen to less than 60 per cent currently and the slide continues.

With plug-in and mild hybrid models on the way in the S60 there is even more performance to be had.

The plug-in - which will be all-wheel-drive - is set to deliver more than 300bhp taking the S60's acceleration time to under 4.5 seconds and is slated for release before the year is out, as are other trim levels.

As of next year Volvo says it wants no-one to be killed in one of its new cars and as part of that strategy it will be introducing electronically enforced 112mph speed limits on its new models as well as fitting camera systems to detect unsafe drivers.

Realistically, who is going to know the difference and like all new Volvos the S60 comes with a full set of safety systems that are industry leading.

There's also full connectivity all hooked up to a nine-inch Sensus touchscreen that controls virtually all of the car's functions.

Factor in systems such as a semi-autonomous drive mode which allows for limited spells of hands-free motoring and the S60 really is heading towards the future.

In every way the S60 is a springboard which encompasses everything electric for Volvo - and that includes more autonomy, fully electric models and even completely robotic vehicles.

It is either crazy or genius - but if Volvo's track record is anything to go by it's all likely to be for the better.

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