The need for Swede

Volvo's second generation Volvo 560 saloon.
Volvo's second generation Volvo 560 saloon.

Volvo’s second generation S60 saloon is billed as their most dynamic effort yet and, in T6 form, it certainly doesn’t hang around. Andy Enright reports.

Volvo founders Gustav Larsen and Assar Gabrielson would have been surprised by the S60 T6, but not too surprised.

After all, the things we expect the brand to deliver are certainly very much evident: class-leading safety, solid build quality and a cool, classy Scandinavian feel.

It’s just that in this case, for the first time, they’ve been fused with vibrant design, a driver-focused chassis and a range of high-tech engine options, some with serious firepower.

The 304bhp auto-only all-wheel drive six cylinder 3.0-litre T6 sprints to sixty from rest in just 6.2s and has to be reined in at 155mph. Traditionally, Volvos have always been above ballistic back road behaviour, instead prioritising comfort, ride and refinement.

Attempts in the past to add a little handling vim to that mix with sporting R models were usually somewhat crudely delivered, compromising the values that made people want to buy into the brand in the first place.

But not here. In this S60, we’ve at last got a rewarding driver’s car that’s also a Volvo.

Most S60 variants are priced in the 23,000 to 35,000 bracket common to the compact executive class. Naturally, the T6 models occupy the top portion and arguably face the stiffest competition from BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

Against this Tutonic triumvirate, the S60 T6 certainly looks decent value. Audi’s slightly more powerful S4 costs around 3,500 more and if you want to better the Volvo’s 304bhp with a BMW or Mercedes, you have to look to their ‘M’ and AMG ranges, which are significantly more expensive.

All models come with alloy wheels, cruise control and a smart infotainment system, as well as all the usual executive refinements you’d expect for this kind of money.

Volvo safety used to be all about protecting you after you’d had an accident.

Now, more laudably, it’s more about making sure you don’t have one in the first place. So fitted as standard is the City Safe system, which can detect objects ahead you may have missed and can automatically stop the car at lower speeds (in stop-start traffic for instance) or brake to minimise the impact speed at higher ones.

If you go a step further and order the ‘Driver Support Pack’, your car’s Pedestrian Detection System will even be able to recognise a person in the road ahead and brake itself to avoid them.

Add in adaptive cruise control, a lane departure warning system and a Blind Spot Information System and it’s hard to imagine an S60 owner ever getting into trouble. If they ever did, six airbags, stability control and ABS with Brake Assist are of course standard.

None of the new virtues are class-leading in themselves and they aren’t quite enough to fully create the naughtily sporty car we’re promised in the ads, but when you add them to the smooth riding, safely sensible Volvo package the S60 T6 can also deliver, they create a highly impressive package that’s an intriguing alternative to the compact executive mainstream.

You should try an S60 and, if you can afford the price of its performance, the T6.

It won’t disappoint.