Volvo S60 road test by Steve Rogers

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THIS is a tail of amazing good fortune or, as my wife said, absolute stupidity.

It all started while loading golf clubs into the boot of the Volvo S60. I needed somewhere to rest my mobile and laid it on the edge of the roof mentally telling myself not to forget it before driving away.

You will have guessed what’s coming. I nipped to the gents and the distraction was enough for me to drive away with said mobile sitting on the roof.

The 15 mile drive home is mainly B roads, uphill, down dale, lots of twists, poor surfaces and the occasional pothole.

At home the mobile is nowhere to be found and then that moment when the head sinks into the hands. I left it on the roof of the car so that is the end of that… but low and behold it is still there.

After the stinging rebuke from my wife I suggested we look at the bigger picture and what it said about the quality of the S60s suspension and its ability to soak up everything thrown at it. My phone really should have ended up in a ditch.

The S60 saloon is Volvo’s newest model following on from the V60 estate and shares the Swedish company’s current design DNA so models morph into a set shape but who cares if they look great. It has won them loads of awards, not to mention sales which are at an all time high.

The new model is in the early stages with one engine, a four cylinder 2-litre petrol. Note the absence of a diesel, a brave move when rivals like Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz are hanging in there with clean, economical diesels but sales show Volvo buyers are migrating to petrol

As for the 2-litre it musters 250bhp and in all honesty is plenty quick enough with a decent amount of mid range pick up which is what’s really important for stress free overtaking, and all this comes through a smooth eight speed automatic with steering wheel shifter paddles to spice up the drive.

If economy is important in the buying process then S60 is on the back foot against its diesel rivals. Mid thirties to the gallon is the best I could get which is reasonable for a car of this size with this sort of performance but way short of what a similarly powered diesel will return.

Once that hurdle is cleared the rest is an easy sprint to the finish line. S60 is in the zone right across the board but the stand out feature has to be the interior. The minimalist Swedish styling is Scandi chic at its best and along with the quality of materials makes it the pick of the class.

Volvo has taken the bull by the horns and virtually eliminated switches with the main functions selected from a nine-inch touchscreen in the centre of the dashboard. It works on the same principal as a mobile phone or tablet and is able to store masses of information.

I have got used to it driving Volvos over the last few years but still find swiping the screen for everyday tasks a distraction. That said there is the simplest of solutions for a driver who wants to keep his eyes on the road.

Voice control. Change the heating temperature or fan speed, select a radio station, or say a post code for navigation and it happens. Job done, I’m happy. The 12.3in digital display in the driver’s binnacle is another bonus especially when using navigation.

It’s a great car to drive too, lashings of style and substance, and superbly comfortable seats. R-Design models err towards a sporty drive with stiffer spring settings and selectable drive modes yet passengers are still cushioned against our many poor road surfaces.

As you would expect Volvo provides an abundance of safety features and that includes keeping the car in its lane and emergency braking if the driver’s eyes are not focussed on the road or you are too slow to react to an obstacle whether it be a person or vehicle.

There are more S60 model variants on the way including the imminent arrival of the monstrous T8 twin engine with 400bhp. That is going to spice things up a bit!

That said Volvo does not hold the monopoly on the medium saloon sector which is jam packed with excellent models but while the Swede is amongst the best it is not enough to persuade me away from my favourite, the rear wheel drive Alfa Romeo Giulia. In fact if I was going down the Volvo road my pick would be its sister, the V60 estate, same car with more flexibility.

Key facts

S60 R-Design Edition 8sp auto

£37,920

2-litre T5 petrol 250bhp

0-60mph 6.3secs; 145mph

35.3-39.8mpg combined

155g/km. 1st year road tax £530

Boot capacity 442 litres

Insurance group 34