Volvo S60 takes on

the big guns

Volvo S60, front, static
Volvo S60, front
Volvo S60, rear
Volvo S60, tail
Volvo S60, rear, static
Volvo S60, interior
Volvo S60, rear seats
Volvo S60, front, upright
Volvo S60, boot

VOLVO has launched its third generation S60 - a mid-sized executive saloon that the company claims is the most ‘dynamically handling Volvo it's ever made'.

It certainly looks the business with muscular, sports styling and it is powered by a perfectly tuned petrol engine at launch, which delivers some exciting sprint stats.

But can it take on the big guns from the German marques such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, or even the Jaguar XE?

The S60, which is priced from £37,920, is the first model that Volvo has offered without a diesel powertrain and there is no sign of introducing one either.

It is also the first of its cars to be built in the US - a country famed for its love affair with the sedan, or as we know them saloon cars.

Initially there is just one highly-specced model called theR-Design Edition, but this will soon be joined byR-Design Plus, luxurious Inscription Plus and performance-oriented Polestar Engineered versions.

All cars will be powered by Volvo's 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine. The engine range comprises a 250hp T5 petrol (at launch) with the addition of 390hp T8 Twin Engine and 405hp T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered petrol-electric hybrid versions.

There will be a T6 petrol and the possibility of a T6 Twin Engine petrol-electric hybrid unit later on.

Cars are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission with petrol versions being front-wheel-drive, while the hybrids are all-wheel-drive.

There's no denying the fact that the four-door S60 is a great looking car with its sleek, dynamic streamlining complimented by full LED headlights with T-shaped daytime running lights, a black front grille with metal surround, distinctive tail lights, high gloss back exterior trim, twin exhaust pipes and alloy wheels ranging in size from 18 to 20 inches.

The interior is equally impressive with a minimalist layout and plenty of quality materials. There are soft-touch surfaces, part Nappa leather seats with full power adjustment and even the door pockets are lined.

On-board techno treats are plentiful and include Volvo's upright tablet-styled, nine-inch Sensus touchscreen control system that is the gateway to most of the car's systems.

It works similarly to a tablet or smartphone with pinch, zoom and swipe functions and there is full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The S60 can also be turned into a mobile W-iFi hotspot via a mobile phone or the built-in car modem and a SIM card with data allowance.

In addition, there is a navigation system, heated seats, rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, front and rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel and a 12.3-inch driver information display that can be personalised according to taste.

A voice activated control system allows you to change the temperature or adjust the radio station without taking your hands off the wheel.

Comfort levels are high with lots of legroom in the back of the car. But the sloping roof design means rear headroom is impacted slightly so taller passengers may find their hair ruffled by the headlining.

The boot can accommodate 440 litres of luggage and our car featured a Convenience Pack that introduced power-folding 60:40 split rear seats for £400. This, along with a few additional features, bumped the asking price up to £41,210.

When it comes to performance, the S60 is a pure delight to drive with instant power at your disposal as it shifts effortlessly through the automatic gearbox.

Steering wheel-mounted paddles offer extra control, as do the drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic. The latter mode is perfect for long sweeping country roads where the car's full potential can be explored in more detail.

The road holding is very assured and the suspension system has been designed to offerincreased grip, better directional stability, limited body roll and improved comfort. It succeeds on all counts.

The S60 has plenty of torque and powers its way from 0-62mph in just 6.5 seconds, topping out at 145mph, so definitely no slouch. It delivers combined fuel economy of 35.3-39.8mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 155g/km.

But it's also very composed and refined with barely a hint of body roll or loss of traction even when bends are attacked at pace.

Occupants are protected from any road surface, engine or wind noise too thanks to an effective insulation system. There is also a pitch perfect 15-speakerBower & Wilkins audio system if any sound should show signs of filtering through.

A clever Pilot Assist system is great for long stretches of motorway driving whereby the car will accelerate, brake and steer for you. However, you do need to touch the steering wheel at regular intervals to prove you're still alert.

And just like the V60 estate model, the S60 is packed with safety features so gains the Euro NCAP maximum five-star rating. Volvo has a ‘Vision 2020' commitment whereby it aims to achieve zero deaths or serious injury in a new Volvo by 2020.

Systems on the S60 include Volvo's City Safety suite of collision-avoidance aids. These include automatic emergency braking which works day or night and detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or large animals in front of the vehicle. The driver is warned if a collision is likely and the system will automatically apply maximum braking force with steering assistance if necessary to avoid a collision.

Also standard is Oncoming Collision Mitigation, which is a world first in the mid-size saloon sector, and it uses a radar and camera system then reacts to avoid vehicles travelling towards you.

All in all, the S60 is a most impressive high-end saloon.

It may not be as dynamic to drive as the BMW 3 Series but it is the complete package offering head-turning good looks, exceptional comfort levels, a wealth of technology, excellent handling and all the safety systems imaginable.

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