By Mike Torpey on 2020-04-11 - Driving Force news editor and responsible for organising our daily output. He was staff motoring editor of the Liverpool Echo for 20 years.
Volvo S60 T5
JAMES BOND may have preferred his Martinis to be ‘shaken not stirred' but the popular catchphrase has been turned on its head by the fastest-growing premium car company in Britain.
Swedish brand Volvo believes its mid-size saloon S60 is the most dynamic handling Volvo ever made - promising to stir but not shake its driver.
And the range-topping T5 Inscription Plus automatic version we put through its paces went a long way towards underpinning that claim.
The third generation S60, which hit UK streets last summer, was the first modern Volvo to be sold without a diesel engine, heralding the company's commitment to electrification.
It means the car, which costs from £38,285, is available exclusively with petrol and petrol-electric hybrid power, the latter also up for grabs in high performance Polestar engineered form.
This is a vehicle that has an instant impact in that it's a real head-turner. Volvo's clean trademark Scandinavian lines are all there but with some added eye-catching details like T-shaped daytime running lights and muscular rear haunches.
Move inside and the minimalist interior oozes elegance, boasting the same Sensus touchscreen control set-up as Volvo's other new models, allowing the cabin to be largely free of buttons and switches.
This may be the smallest Volvo but an appreciably longer wheelbase than on its predecessor ensures space is plentiful, significantly so in the back, and the boot's 442 litre of luggage space is accessed easily thanks to a wide boot opening and low loading height.
Safety has been of paramount importance to the company 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.
All S60 models are powered by a version of Volvo's own 2.0-litre four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine, the T5 unit in our tested variant developing 250bhp. It also comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox and front-wheel drive.
While its performance figures of 0-62 in 6.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 145mph, are not to be sniffed at, the S60 really comes into its own courtesy of the smooth, effortless way in which it drives - well mannered to even outdo Mr Bond.
Fuel economy could be better, though if you drive in ECO mode - there are also Comfort, Dynamic and Individual settings - the benefit is gearbox and accelerator responses set for maximum efficiency along with a coasting function with no engine braking when you lift off. In that mode you can expect to return around 39mpg.
Various packs are up for grabs at extra cost and our tested Inscription Plus model, which is highly specced up anyway, included four of them.
Most useful is the Xenium Pack at £1,800 which includes a powered panoramic sunroof, a 360-degree surround view camera and automatic parallel parking assist.
There's also a Intellisafe Pro pack (Â£1,625), Harman Kardon premium sound set-up (Â£850), a Winter pack (Â£350) and a Convenience pack at Â£400.
It all adds up to a car of outstanding ability. The engine is sweet, the dynamics exceptional, the ambiance relaxing and soundproofing superb.
Volvo S60 T5 Inscription Plus
Mechanical: 250bhp, 1,969cc, 4cyl petrol engine driving front wheels via 8-speed automatic gearbox
Max Speed: 145mph
0-62mph: 6.5 seconds
Combined MPG: 35.3
Insurance Group: 34
C02 emissions: 149g/km
Bik rating: 34%
Warranty: 3yrs/60,000 miles
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