Each car has hints of suitability for its segment, at least. The S60’s is the segment of ordinary/nice/4.7m-long saloons, so it’s a rival for anything from a Ford Mondeo to a BMW 3 Series, and Volvo will probably argue at some length that it’s at the more premium end of the market, given the difficulty you’d have spending this S60’s £38,000 on a Mondeo. But with the Ford being much rarer than the BMW these days, if you value exclusivity, a Mondeo, or indeed an S60, which hasn’t set UK sales alight for quite some time, is among your go-to options.
Volvo is, effectively, and by accident rather than design, an SUV company today, given how many off-roaders it sells. And the S60 might remain a niche in its line-up, given family saloons are a declining sector. Especially given it’s launching in only one specification, too – a four-cylinder 2.0-litre in R-Design trim – although more options will come. Nothing bigger than a four-cylinder 2.0-litre, though, and nothing diesel.
What's it like?
For now, that means the T5, with the T meaning petrol and the number relating to its power rating, which seems to go up to eight rather than 11, disappointingly. It has 247bhp and front-wheel drive, although you can have up to 394bhp and all-wheel drive in the US in the T8, and [Volvo spokesperson taps nose] “more specifications and powertrains will arrive here later”, too.
Meanwhile, the T5 drives through an eight-speed automatic gearbox and sits on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture), which underpins all of its big cars. It’s a mostly steel monocoque in which the engine sits at the front and is transversely mounted and, in other Volvo models, can have electrical assistance for both front and rear axles in place of the diesels that Volvo is currently repulsed by.
Inside, there’s even less difference between Volvos than there is on the outside. Volvo has settled into a Scandi-cool way of doing things, with good seats, a widely adjustable driving position, a round steering wheel, clear dials and a vertical touchscreen that’s relatively easy to navigate in the scheme of things but still makes you control too many functions from it, in the name of removing physical buttons. So it looks good, works satisfactorily and, at least, reacts quickly to inputs and remembers you’ve turned off lane keep assist the next time you get in the car. There’s a decent-sized boot and plenty of space in the back for grown adults to sit behind the same in the front.
There are adaptive dampers and drive modes, which are among the few things selectable via separate buttons on the centre console, slightly needlessly given that you’ll put it in one mode and leave it there for the next three years. And I suspect you’ll get not far into the good side of 30mpg whichever mode you pick. And whichever mode it’s in, the S60 is a largely amiable companion, too. Mature, sophisticated and largely uncomplicated in feel.