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

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige -

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.’’

Driv­ing:

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

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