Volvo S60 - great

looks to drive

Volvo S60, 2019, side, static
Volvo S60, 2019, front
Volvo S60, 2019, rear
Volvo S60, 2019, interior
Volvo S60, 2019, rear seats
Volvo S60, 2019, boot

WITH cars as handsome and svelte as the award-winning S60 to take on BMW, Mercedes and Audi, it's no wonder Volvo is bucking the downward sales trend of the car industry.

The big US-built saloon uses out and out luxury and huge built-in safety as its main weapon in the fight for sales and it really works.

The acres of light tan leather inside give a real feeling of bespoke tailoring, and knock the strange orange and black the German makers often use into a cocked hat. Volvo has learned its lesson well and takes a leaf out of the Jaguar book.

Simply stepping into such a beautifully appointed car is an occasion to be savoured - like a day at the races or seeing a favourite artist strut their stuff.

At night, there are puddle lights to show the kerb and courtesy lights in the door openings and the footwells.

The Inscription Plus I enjoyed also has standard voice activation - which is very useful - keyless entry and starting, electric heated seats and just about every conceivable safety device, helping to give a five star rating.

The large vertical screen in the centre console carries out a plethora of functions and is very complicated to operate.

However, Volvo's voice activation system liked my voice, and made it very easy to change settings while I was on the move.

The screen takes care of the excellent sat nav, which has a superb traffic avoidance system, DAB stereo, phone connection, internet and Bluetooth.

But then if you slide the screen left or right, you have many more options and help buttons, from radio favourites to the sound experience, and from messages to driver performance!

Of course, it comes with Android Auto and Apple Carplay for music, podcasts etc, and it also has Spotify, which seems a little over the top!

All that shows up when the screen is slid to the left. Slide it to the right and up come all the car functions that can be switched on and off or adjusted, from stability control and start stop to parking assistance and road sign information.

And this is where some of the car's safety devices can be switched on or off, including lane departure warning, collision avoidance assistance, cross traffic alert, head-up display and active bending headlights.

The digital binnacle is adjustable to give different views and its good looking and works very well. It also has a repeat screen in the centre for the sat nav, stereo or trip computer.

Slip into the sumptuous driver's seat, and you know this is going to be a lovely machine for effortless travel.

The seats front and rear are beautifully shaped and hugely comfortable and the suspension only adds to this once on the move.

For such a quick saloon the comfort level is brilliant, so that it could take a very poor pock marked country road at speed or when driving more slowly and simply dismiss it without affecting the driver or passengers at all.

It's as hushed as a library reading room - apart from the usual but well-subdued noise all cars get from tar and chipping surfaces of course.

And the handling and roadholding are excellent, with brilliant grip and sticky roadholding through every corner, helped by decent feel from the steering.

The 2.0-litre twin turbo engine - Volvo doesn't make anything larger now - drives the front wheels through an effortlessly smooth changing eight speed automatic gearbox and performance can be superb if you use the loud pedal.

But this one is really built as a long distance cruiser with the best of comfort and refinement, and in that, it's up there with the very best.

The engine, gearbox steering and suspension can be changed using the Drive Mode selector, which has Eco, Normal, Dynamic and Individual settings.

Eco cuts torque to the engine in an effort to improve economy and lower emissions, while Dynamic toughens up the suspension, adds weight to the steering and gives the gearbox quicker responses.

But in firming the suspension, it spoils that sumptuous ride, and I can't see many owners using it for long!

FAST FACTS

Price: £38,850

Mechanical:246 bhp, 1969cc, 4 cylinder petrol, front wheel drive, 8 speed automatic gearbox

Max Speed:145mph

0-62mph:6.5 seconds.

Combined MPG: 39

Insurance Group:34

C02 emissions: 152g/km

Bik rating:34%

Warranty:3yrs/60,000miles

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