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Power and safety Swedish-made Volvo can rival its popular German cousins

Volvo – S60

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New Volvo S60

New Volvo S60

New Volvo S60

Volvo has an optics problem. But it’s not their fault. It’s actually ours. Or more specifically…it’s the fault of those looking to buy a premium-level sports saloon.

It prices itself in the same bracket as the German big boys and they sure are as safe, slick, fun and comfortable to drive – but we the car-buying public just don’t desire them like we do the German giants of Mercedes, Audi and BMW.

But those who take the leap and drive away in one will never regret it. And will more than likely jump into another one straight after. And again after that.

While the SUV range (XC40, XC60 and XC90) is holding its own in their respective markets the problem lies in the saloon camp where the Swedish manufacturer’s S60 has to compete with the 3-Series, the A4 and the C-Class.

If you look at the sales of the S60 you’d think it was created, manufactured and rolled out of a sweat shop in far-east Asia. But the fact is that the newly-refreshed look on the S60 belongs with the big boys.

OK, so it is a little less exciting to look at than some of the others in the genre. It didn’t turn heads as much as other cars I drive tend to do and not one single person in my neighbourhood approached me and asked me about it. Like a bass player in a band the S60 blends into the background but those who are in the know can appreciate its beauty and talent – even if it isn’t shouting about it.

So what do you get in the new-look and slightly-humble Swedish saloon?

Well, for starters you get a whole lot of car. It might be modest-looking on the outside but the 2.0-litre engine has more than sufficient power for your needs and the six-speed gearbox works well with it to produce a balanced performance.

The S60 uses the same ‘SPA’ platform as the larger S90, V90, XC90 and, of course, as the V60 estate and XC60 SUV. It gets the same interior as the V60 and XC60 created around the attention-grabbing upright 12.3in touchscreen in the centre of the dash.

It has 250hp too which helps to justify to €56,000 price tag on my particular test car.

It is a good-looking car without being flashy and in your face. Think of the S90, only in miniature form and in a weird way, a more suited and balanced form. I really like the look of it – especially the more I got to drive it and ogle it.

So do you get much bang for your Krona? Volvo paved the way for automotive safety in the 1980s and they rightly still hold tightly onto that well-earned reputation. Others may have caught up, but that shift in prriorities was always going to happen once Volvo brilliantly caught a hop on everyone.

Every safety feature you could imagine is crammed in here. And I am not just talking about hardware. The software too is very impressive and gives you every chance of avoiding collisions and keeping you and your passengers safe.

But on top of all that (way too many now-as-standard features to fit in here and bore you with) the S60 comes with a two-zone electronic climate control with ‘CleanZone’ air quality system and pollen filter, aluminium tread plates, front footwell and side step illumination, theatre lighting and centre armrest storage illumination, some slick underfloor cargo storage, a 12V socket front and rear tunnel console and cargo area and very useful centre console cupholders and storage in front and rear. There are heated front seats decked out in some exquisite leather upholstery too by the way.

And if you are feeling flush enough to splash out on the R-Design trim you can expect contour sports seats with nappa leather/textile upholstery black headlining, front seat cushion extensions leather sports steering wheel with gearshift paddles (in the automatic only), high gloss black steering wheel remote infotainment controls sports leather gearknob, some lovely metal mesh inlays sports pedals, front LED fog lights with cornering function, dual integrated exhaust pipes, keyless entry, a head-up display and 18in 5 double-spoke alloy wheels with 235/45 tyres. And…breathe!

All that kit (plus more to be honest) in a very underrated sports saloon that a lot of people would not even consider. Testament to Volvo is the fact that its car owners are loyal. They have made huge inroads on the SUV market in recent years and in the S60 they should follow that success into the saloon market. I am fully aware that the price is out of a lot of people’s budgets but if you are in the market for a new toy and are only thinking of a German brand all I will say is consider their long-lost Swedish cousin too.