The S60 en­com­passes all things elec­tric for Volvo

Gloucestershire Echo - - TEST DRIVE - By CHRIS RUSSON Driv­ing Force

IT’S the first of a new breed of Volvo, it’s built in Amer­ica and the third gen­er­a­tion of the Swedish com­pany’s lat­est S60 saloon will be on the road in a mat­ter of weeks. A trail­blazer for the now Chi­ne­se­owned brand, the new S60 is the first non-diesel Volvo since the C70 coupe of more than 20 years ago.

It is also the first car to come from Volvo’s new fac­tory in Charleston in South Carolina which will soon be­come home to the large XC90 SUV as well.

As such the S60 is a hugely im­por­tant model and comes as Volvo is mak­ing a host of changes to its op­er­a­tions.

Priced from £37,920 the lat­est S60 is en­ter­ing the premium mid-sized saloon mar­ket where it will be an al­ter­na­tive to the likes of Audi’s A4 and the Mercedes C-class.

Ini­tially the S60 will be avail­able only in sporty R-de­sign trim and pow­ered by a 2.0-litre four cylin­der

en­gine de­vel­op­ing a healthy 250bhp.

It’s a very ca­pa­ble en­gine and gives the S60 a 0 to 60 ac­cel­er­a­tion time of 6.5 sec­onds and top speed of 155mph with fuel econ­omy rated at a best of 39.8mpg. Emis­sions are 155g/km.

Our run in the new saloon cov­ered hun­dreds of miles in the Scot­tish high­lands – de­mand­ing roads to say the least – and we saw an av­er­age of 36.5 to the gal­lon.

That is not as good as the 76.3mpg the of­fi­cial tests rate its V60 dieselpow­ered es­tate car si­b­ling at but then there are no nasty par­tic­u­lates or other pol­lu­tants which have given oil burn­ing cars such a bad name.

So kinder to the en­vi­ron­ment – though pos­si­bly not your pocket – the S60 is and it has some sur­prises up its sleeve on the per­for­mance front.

Not only is it lively but in all but the eco mode of its four drive set­tings the car whooshes up to the le­gal limit rapidly.

Over­tak­ing is a brisk af­fair and the eight-speed auto box comes with pad­dle shifters if needed.

Where the S60 scores is with its com­fort and the con­toured R-de­sign seats put it head and shoul­ders above any­thing from the Ger­man brands in this class.

There is also ex­cel­lent room in the rear, a fold out arm­rest and a 442 litre boot which is big­ger than that of the Mercedes.

As a tourer the Volvo has to be the pick of the bunch but around town its thirst in­creases and ac­cord­ing to the trip com­puter we saw an av­er­age of just 18mpg – ouch!. Volvo’s de­ci­sion to drop diesel from its new car line up is purely out of en­vi­ron­men­tal con­cerns and while such mod­els made up al­most 98 per cent of its sales in Bri­tain in 2016 they have fallen to less than 60 per cent cur­rently and the slide con­tin­ues. With plug-in and mild hy­brid mod­els on the way in the S60 there is even more per­for­mance to be had. The plug-in – which will be all­wheel-drive - is set to de­liver more than 300bhp tak­ing the S60’s ac­cel­er­a­tion time to un­der 4.5 sec­onds and is slated for re­lease be­fore the year is out, as are other trim lev­els. As of next year Volvo says it wants no-one to be killed in one of its new cars and as part of that strat­egy it will be in­tro­duc­ing elec­tron­i­cally en­forced 112mph speed lim­its on its new mod­els as well as fit­ting camera sys­tems to de­tect un­safe driv­ers.

Re­al­is­ti­cally, who is go­ing to know the dif­fer­ence and like all new Volvos the S60 comes with a full set of safety sys­tems that are in­dus­try lead­ing.

There’s also full con­nec­tiv­ity all hooked up to a nine-inch Sen­sus touch­screen that con­trols vir­tu­ally all of the car’s func­tions.

Fac­tor in sys­tems such as a semi­au­tonomous drive mode which al­lows for lim­ited spells of hands­free mo­tor­ing and the S60 re­ally is head­ing to­wards the fu­ture.

In ev­ery way the S60 is a spring­board which en­com­passes ev­ery­thing elec­tric for Volvo – and that in­cludes more au­ton­omy, fully elec­tric mod­els and even com­pletely ro­botic ve­hi­cles.

It is ei­ther crazy or ge­nius – but if Volvo’s track record is any­thing to go by it’s all likely to be for the bet­ter.

The Volvo S60 comes with a full set of safety sys­tems that are all in­dus­try lead­ing

The new S60 is the first non-diesel Volvo since the C70 more than 20 years ago.

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