Tough, solidly built, reliable – the brand image of Volvo has been built on considerations of safety and comfort. But that does not mean all the Swedish company’s products are boringly stolid, lacking in soul and low on excitement.
Take the mid-sized S60 saloon for example. Now it’s no sports car, of course, but it does possess enough oomph to entertain serious press-on drivers.
My test car was the £20,995 D3 SE NAV version – now there’s a singularly uninspiring name for you! – with the on-the-road price hiked to £25,870 by a raft of optional extras, including winter, security and support packs, shiny 17 inch Sadia alloy wheels, speed dependent steering, an active TFT display and the Volvo On Call rescue service.
Let’s start from the outside. There’s a lower more dynamic stance to the 2014 model year car, with an oversize wide-gaping grille and big doors that shut with a reassuring clunk.
Attention to detail is a hallmark of the latest S60. For instance, the previously visible washer nozzles have been relocated out of sight under the bonnet while the headlamp washer jets now sit flush to help create a cleaner bumper line.
The radar cover has been painted gloss black, which practically makes it disappear in the grille. The chrome frame around the grille has been removed and the new, bigger ironmark badge enhances the new car’s self-confident look.
The new integrated tailpipes, which can be specified with some engine variants, are the physical and visual link to the technically advanced engines. But it's not just about beautiful design: the engineers have had to cope with the fact that at operating temperature the tailpipes have to remain perfectly in place, despite the exhaust system expanding in length by up to 25mm.
The new S60 offers an extended wheel choice, with a variety of designs that increase the personalisation possibilities for customers. To enhance the visual appeal of the car, it is now possible to specify the S60 with expressive 19-inch wheels and keep the same profile height as 18-inch ones, without compromising comfort.
Climb aboard and the cleanly sculpted dash immediately catches the eye while the controls fall easily to hand and are simple to use.
There’s a choice of three chassis configurations and a selection of petrol and diesel engines, the latter being capable of 67 mpg economy while the potent range-topping T6 three-litre petrol version offers all-wheel drive and very high performance yet is still capable of delivering 28.5 mpg.