Volvo S60 D3 SE Premium23 | 08 | 2010Scotcars rating

    It's claimed to be the most dynamic Volvo ever: ok, we'll admit, it's pretty good


    Mention the word Volvo and it conjures up thoughts of reliability, safety and security ... and dullness. That’s not strictly true, but it’s a worry for the marketing people at the company which is still based in its original home of Sweden but now firmly in the hands of the Chinese. Of course, that opens up huge opportunities in the vast Chinese market and Volvo are upbeat after an uncertain time. The message that the brand has changed is at the heart of the launch of their latest model, the new S60. The cars are still very reliable and safety is still at the heart of everything they do, but they’re now much more exciting both in performance and looks. “The most dynamic Volvo ever” is how the company is labelling the new S60 and certainly on the looks front it’s as far removed from the traditional Volvo box as the proverbial white chalk and cheddar cheese.

    Back in charge of design at Volvo is one of the biggest names in the business, Peter Horbury, who has a track record of success throughout the whole Ford family and is credited with much of the updated look of the Volvo range over the recent past. He admits he had nothing to do with the latest S60 – he was busy creating with Ford in the States – but is really pleased with what’s been done. “Sporty dynamic” is how he describes it with a bigger front grille with a positive face and a proud Volvo badge with a sweeping rear quarter which stretches from the C pillar almost to the tail lights. Most of the 9700 sales in 2011 will be with diesel engines. 

    Developed in association with double BTCC champ, Borders Volvo dealer John Cleland

    On the road

    Not only does the car look good, it also performs superbly and my favourite between the two diesels is the lower-powered D3 which seems better balanced and more flexible than the bigger D5. Roadholding is superb, which is largely down to major changes in the dynamic chassis, developed in association with former British Touring Car champion and Borders Volvo dealer John Cleland. Working with the engineers he brought his vast experience on the racetrack to help with the evaluation and development of the chassis and the results are impressive.

    I took the test car around the demanding roads of Aberdeenshire – the ones which are usually closed every winter — Rhynie to Dufftown/Cockbridge to Tomintoul etc — and opened up the car over the sweeping Lecht. Stunning would be an understatement. The car was simply superb, handling every bend with ease, every bend, straight and climb with confidence and commitment.    

    Comfort & Safety

    Yes it is both comfortable and safe with some interesting innovations, including the ground-breaking Pedestrian Detection which has a newly-developed radar unit built into the grille along with a camera in front of the rear view mirror. Working together they detect any object in front of the car, assess how far away it is, work out what it is and then, if necessary, apply the brakes. It’s designed for town use where a pedestrian can suddenly step out in front of the car while the driver may be distracted by their passengers or any of the things happening on the pavement.

    Volvo set up a test of the system on the track at the Alford Motor Museum and it was impressive. Aiming at a dummy and maintaining a speed of around 20 mph the system worked perfectly and brought the car to a halt inches from what would otherwise have been a road accident victim. If the driver touches the brakes or lifts off the power during the procedure, the system cancels and hands back control to the driver, countering any suggestion that the cars themselves are taking over responsibility for road safety. It’s an addition to driver skill, not a replacement.    

    Should I buy one?

    It’s a great looking car, coupled with first class build quality and technical innovation.

    Alan Douglas

    Quick Stats
    Price OTR/As Tested £27,295 / £27,295
    Engine / Power: 1984cc / 163bhp
    How fast?: 0-60 mph 9.2secs, Max 137mph
    How big/heavy?: H1484mm  W2097mm L4628mm / 1611kg
    How thirsty/CO2?: Combined 53.3mpg / CO2 139g/km
    InsGP/Road tax: 29 / Band E, £120
    Alternatives: Mercedes C-class; Audi A4; BMW 3 Series

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