By Mike Torpey on 2019-09-30 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
charge at the double
VOLVO is a car company on a roll - and is seriously disrupting the premium marketplace in the process.
A combination of desirability, technology, style and safety has seen the Swedish brand hit a series of milestones that are the envy of its rivals.
For instance 2018 saw Volvo sell 600,000 cars for the first time since the company was founded in 1927 and in the UK sales are up by 27 per cent for the first six months of this year - and that's in a climate in which our domestic new car market has been on the slide.
Next stage of the brand's strategy for success is electrification, which is being rapidly introduced across the entire model range.
By the end of this year every new Volvo car will include an electric motor and customers will ultimately have the choice of mild hybrid, plug-in hybrid or fully battery electric cars.
It all comes hand in hand with some ambitious business targets, like fully electric cars to make up half of all Volvo sales by 2025 and a third to be autonomous - self driving vehicles - by the same year.
The first of those all-electric models will be the XC40 compact SUV next year but it's the twin engine hybrids available across the entire range that are giving Volvo one of the broadest offerings of any car maker.
Latest of these to hit UK streets is the T8 twin-engine version of the stylish S60 saloon - and it's an absolute cracker.
Already a landmark car in that it is the first model to be built at the company's American plant in South Carolina, the S60 saloon is also the first modern Volvo to be sold without a diesel engine, underlining that commitment to electrification.
And its existing T5 turbocharged powerplant has just been joined by an all-wheel drive T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid combining a 303bhp petrol unit with an 87bhp electric motor.
Not to put too fine a point on it, this car is an absolute cracker, with suitably electrifying performance of 0-62mph in just 4.6 seconds.
Like the T5, the twin engine variant uses a 2.0-litre Volvo DriveE engine mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox and has a fully electric range of 36 miles.
Emissions are low at 39g/km and fuel economy on the WLTP (Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure) combined cycle is an impressive 176.5 miles per gallon.
Certainly it's a car of outstanding ability - sweet and smooth with exceptional dynamics, relaxing ambience and superb soundproofing - as we discovered on a demanding test route through the picturesque Cotswolds.
To suggest that the car's design is striking would be an understatement. Those clean trademark Scandinavian lines are all there but with some added eye-catching details like T-shaped daytime running lights and muscular rear haunches.
Inside, the minimalist cabin oozes elegance, boasting the same Sensus touchscreen control set-up as Volvo's other new models, allowing the environment to be largely free of buttons and switches.
This may be the smallest Volvo but space is plentiful, significantly so in the back, and the boot's 442 litres of luggage space is accessed easily thanks to a wide boot opening and low loading height.
Safety has been paramount to Volvo since day one and all S60s come with the brand's City Safety suite of collision avoidance aids, Oncoming Collision Mitigation - a world first in the mid-size saloon arena - and Steering Support as well as technology to stop the car inadvertently running off the road.
Every car also gets voice control, smartphone integration, access to apps like Spotify and Google Local Search, and you can also turn the Volvo into a WiFi hotspot via either a mobile phone or the built-in car modem and a SIM card.
The T8 adds an extra dimension to the S60, but for those seeking even greater wallop there's a 405bhp Polestar engineered version due to be announced any day.
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