With its sporty good looks, it’s one out of the box Evolving Volvo
The S60 takes it up to Audi and BMW, writes Paul Gover in Portugal
THE revolution at Volvo has stepped up a gear with the arrival of the new S60. The mid-sizer sets a high-water mark for the Swedish brand in everything from design to driving enjoyment and, predictably, safety.
The car is roomier than before and more sporty than any Volvo in memory. It has breakthrough safety including Pedestrian Protection and promises to be priced right to fight in the 3 Series BMW battlefield.
The S60 should land before the end of the year and there are robust talks between Australia and Sweden about pricing, which needs to be in the $50,000-55,000 range.
Three models open the action, the flagship T6 with a 3-litre petrol engine and the D5 and D3 turbodiesels. And there will be an S60-based wagon, the V60, in the first half of next year.
The S60 is built from the same structure as Volvo’s flagship, the S80, but has been massively tweaked for safety and driving enjoyment.
There is an extra 50mm of rear legroom to answer an owner complaint about the outgoing car.
‘‘Our task was to develop the most dynamic Volvo ever. We needed driving dynamics that matches the design. That was a big task for us,’’ S60 project director Tomas Ahlborg says.
The suspension has been recalibrated and reworked, with front springs that are 80 per cent stiffer than before.
Yet Volvo stayed committed to ride comfort and a package that works for all owners. That is reflected in a car that looks good, not at all boxy, and a cabin with real class.
Some parts that look like metal are plastic, but they are easy to overlook because the steering wheel is right, the centre console is user-friendly, the sound systems are great and the airconditioning has no trouble during a 34C day in Portugal.
On the safety front, Pedestrian Protection is the big breakthrough, but the S60 also gets standard City Safety like the XC60 and Volvo’s latest advanced stability control, a full set of airbags and anti-skid brakes.
‘‘We are hoping to have the car by December, but there’s a chance it might push into early January,’’ says Laurissa Mirabelli of Volvo Australia.
‘‘Volvo is not known for its sedans but this is a strong segment in Australia and one we need to play in. We think we’ve got the right package now. The front-wheel-drive car, the 2.0 T, will happen next year with an entry point below $50,000.
‘‘The pricing will be comparable with our competitors, but with more standard specification.’’
THE S60 is surprisingly sporty. It turns into corners with BMW-style grip, it rides as well as an Audi or better, and the quality looks and feels as good as a Benz C-Class. Add it up and you get a car that takes Volvo to a new level.
The S60 is still likely to get on to new-car shopping lists in Australia off the back of its safety, and perhaps the smooth new design, but it will win buyers with a more-comprehensive set of strengths than ever before.
Driving the S60 over tough roads