Volvo just a lit­tle naughty

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Prestige: First Drive -

The range starts at $51,950 for the T5, $57,950 for the D5 diesel topped off by the T6 at $64,950. The first is front-wheel driven; the oth­ers get all­paw trac­tion.

Ir­ri­tat­ingly, the T5 (in fact, a di­rect­in­jec­tion, tur­bocharged four with a twin clutch auto, not a five pot as the name sug­gests) isn’t due un­til early in the New Year.

Technology

THE S60 is burst­ing with technology, most of it safety re­lated, al­most all of it op­tional. Not all the wizardry re­volves around stop­ping the car, how­ever.

Drive-en­hanc­ing de­vices at­tached to the dy­namic sta­bil­ity and trac­tion con­trol vary torque in the ever-alert all-wheel-drive sys­tem and even per­mit some loos­en­ing of the re­straints, though the elec­tronic chap­er­ones are never en­tirely ab­sent.

De­sign

HERE’S a Volvo that in­vites you to look again. While the C30 is funky only from the C-pil­lar back, the S60 has flow­ing lines that are some­thing of a rev­e­la­tion for Volvo.

In­side, the now-fa­mil­iar float­ing cen­tre con­sole is shrouded with too many but­tons and di­als for the sake of el­e­gance, though ma­te­ri­als and fin­ish ri­val the Audi bench­mark.

Safety

THERE is no spare tyre— not even a well in which one can be ac­com­mo­dated. Nor, as is the case with BMW, are the stan­dard tyres of the run-flat va­ri­ety. Your so­lu­tion in the event of a flat or punc­ture? A can of sealant, a call to road­side as­sist and a wait for a suit­able re­place­ment.

Volvo reck­ons this suf­fices. It doesn’t. Cars in this coun­try need a spare. The fail­ure to grasp this re­veals a fun­da­men­tal fail­ure to ap­pre­ci­ate Aus­tralia’s driv­ing con­di­tions and must be con­sid­ered a sig­nif­i­cant rea­son not to buy.

Against that, the stan­dard fit­ting of City Safety, which au­to­mat­i­cally stops the car if the driver fails to re­act to an im­mi­nent low-speed bin­gle, is out­stand­ing.

The equally ef­fec­tive adap­tive cruise con­trol, pedes­trian de­tec­tion sys­tem, blind-spot in­for­ma­tion sys­tem and lane-de­par­ture warn­ing can be bought in an op­tional $5000 pack­age.

Driv­ing

UN­TIL Jan­uary we’re talk­ing of the two AWD vari­ants. Dy­nam­i­cally, as with the de­sign, these are an ob­vi­ous step for­ward for a brand that has pre­vi­ously been re­garded as rather stolid and dull.

You need some faith in your car to show­case it on Tas­ma­nia’s Targa roads. The S60 goes some way to re­ward­ing the faith with AWD that sends all the torque ei­ther for­ward or aft, a quick-wit­ted sys­tem that im­bues you with con­fi­dence and per­mits rapid corner­ing with com­plete surety.

The T6 makes by far the best of it, with al­most in­stant re­sponse as it launches on to the straights.

Ride is ex­cep­tional while de­liv­er­ing am­ple feed­back through a fist-fill­ing steer­ing wheel that weights up mean­ing­fully with speed.

But the Geartronic au­to­matic just isn’t with the pro­gram, re­act­ing es­pe­cially slowly with the diesel, hunt­ing for gears in drive and not en­tirely sat­is­fac­tory, even when held in sport mode and prod­ded man­u­ally.

It’s lamentably be­hind the best of its com­peti­tors, the cause hardly helped by the lack of shift­ing pad­dles.

Ver­dict

A LEAP for­ward for Volvo that doesn’t ad­vance the game.

Good-look­ing: the S60’s flow­ing lines are a rev­e­la­tion for Volvo.

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