S60 blends safety, style and sportiness

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From one end of the spectrum to the other… that’s what it’s like moving from Volvo’s exciting, nimble and re-vamped V40, to their luxurious, classic, sleek and powerful S60. In this job, driving different cars every week can be a challenge. For instance, just as you get used to driving a 200 bhp four-wheel-drive SUV around some of Dublin’s tighter streets, you can be changing it for a sub-1litre city car in a week that you’re driving to West Cork. But in recent weeks, I was fortunate enough to enjoy the experience of driving Volvo’s all-new V40 (as reviewed here last month), followed immediately by their executive saloon – the S60. In many ways, the smooth transition between the two cars says more about the level of quality and comfort in the former, rather than the latter – but let’s not take any sheen off the S60 just yet. This is an elegant and superior drive – plain and simple. I wish I could compare the S60 to some of its previous incarnations, but I can’t; I wasn’t fortunate enough to drive one before. But what I can say is this: my wife drives a very high-end executive saloon, that has a three-litre engine, leather, and every bell and whistle imaginable. It is eye-catching, unusual and costs quite a bit when new. Personally, I would take the S60 any day of the week. New, the S60 starts at €33,595, about half the price of the car I just described (I’ll spare the manufacturer’s blushes and keep it anonymous); but offers so much. One aspect of the S60 is just how incredibly subtle it is. At first glance, yes, it’s pretty, but not something that would stop you in your tracks. Even the metallic paint is very delicate, so much so that a few admirers asked me if it was metallic at all. Like so many of the models in Volvo’s current line up, this one has presence without shouting about it. It has stance that was lower than I expected, without any dramatic, over-the-top or aggressive lines. The front end is purposeful, without resorting to wildly angled headlights or a massive front grille; that said, the headlight elements are nicely broken up between the main cluster and the grille itself. The look is determined, purposeful, strong, and really attractive. The lines of the car flow nicely toward the rear, with some very pleasing chrome highlights drawing the eye across the body, tapering toward the boot. There are no huge surprises with this body shape, but it is undeniably handsome, and spot-on for the understated, upper-end executive saloon buyer. The real prize is when you sit in to the cockpit. Luxury just about describes what’s on offer here. The upholstery is dripping in leather, cream in this case, and just wraps you in comfort. The dials and displays are more subdued than the V40, but all the better for it. This is, after all, for the executive who isn’t interested in the distraction of bells and whistles. The quality of materials and build feels right up there with Volvo’s best, reassuring to the touch and solid throughout. The only real disappointment here was the lack of an automatic gearbox, a manual just doesn’t feel right in a car that excels at so many levels. It goes without saying that this car drives like a dream; it’s comfortable, quiet, has just the right amount of power, and the handling is just quick and responsive enough. Would I own one? Yes, but with an automatic gearbox and in a more interesting colour.

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