He’s bal­anced and smooth

Herald Sun - Motoring - - News - Paul Gover Na­tional edi­tor

STE­FAN Sal­lqvist is the man who makes Volvos dance. He is the head-down boss of chas­sis and sus­pen­sion devel­op­ment at the Swedish maker, but it’s his flair and com­mit­ment to driv­ing en­joy­ment that have just made a fun­da­men­tal change to the safety-first brand.

The new S60 sedan is a car with the sporty en­joy­ment of a BMW, as well as ride qual­ity that trumps an Audi.

It even comes with a Momo-style sporty wheel, in­stead of some­thing that feels as if it be­longs in a Volvo bus.

So, how does he do it? Firstly, he has back­ing from se­nior man­age­ment to cre­ate cars that sell on more than safety.

Se­condly, he has the en­gi­neer­ing brain and ex­pe­ri­ence to do the job right.

Thirdly, he has a sus­pen­sion team who are bet­ter than any­one on stuff like the black-art work of shock ab­sorbers, springs, bushes and even the ba­sic chas­sis de­sign.

And he can­not help him­self. Sal­lqvist has a wicked sense of hu­mour, rides mo­tocross bikes for fun, and has a bunch of Aussie mates.

Then again, he is scared of spi­ders and snakes, some­thing he re­alised when he was rid­ing in Aus­tralia a while ago.

‘‘When I was trail rid­ing near Noosa I fell off and the bike went into these bushes. I made some­one else pull it out be­cause I was scared of be­ing bit­ten,’’ Sal­lqvist says at the press pre­view of the S60.

Volvo is do­ing more tun­ing work on its cars but Sal­lqvist does not be­lieve in all-out laps at the Nur­bur­gring.

In­stead, he sends his team to B-road twists and turns in Bri­tain, where the bumps and lumps also cre­ate unique sus­pen­sion chal­lenges.

He is not a fan, ei­ther, of hi-tech elec­tronic sus­pen­sion sys­tems, even though Volvo has them — and driver-ad­justable steer­ing load­ing.

‘‘You have to get the ba­sics right. You can­not mask things with elec­tron­ics,’’ he says.

The S60 shows what Sal­lqvist and his team can do and he prom­ises more.

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