The need for Swede

Volvo S60 T6 SE Premium
Volvo S60 T6 SE Premium

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

SPORTIER and more stylish than its predecessor, Volvo’s S60 T6 has the more muscular examples of the compact executive elite in its sights. If you’re shopping for an up-tempo BMW 3 Series, an Audi A4 or a Mercedes C-Class, the T6 offers an interesting alternative.

The second generation S60 saloon is, we’re told, the most dynamic Volvo ever, both to look at and to drive.

Traditionally, Volvos have always been above ballistic back road behaviour, instead prioritising comfort, ride and refinement. But in this S60, we’ve at last got a rewarding driver’s car that’s also a Volvo. At last.

The reasons why have much to do a Dynamic chassis carefully developed over the most demanding British B roads. You can take this a step further by ticking the box for the optional FOUR-C active chassis with adaptive damping that via ‘Comfort’, ‘Sport’ or ‘Advanced’ settings, enables the driver to alter the character of the car. The 304bhp auto-only all-wheel drive six cylinder 3.0-litre T6 sprints to 60 from rest in just 6.2s and has to be reined in at 155mph.

If this is the future direction of Volvo design, then the company is probably in very safe hands. As far away from the boxy Volvo stereotype as they could get and the result is very handsome indeed.

At the wheel it’s all very nice indeed, with a premium feel right across the S60 range that you only really get on the most expensive versions of BMW, Audi and Mercedes rivals. The seats are brilliantly comfortable, the controls are clear and everything feels solidly built.

Most S60 variants are priced in the £23,000 to £35,000. All models come with alloy wheels, cruise control and a smart infotainment system, as well as all the usual executive refinements you’d expect. 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 low running costs are a priority, it’s unlikely customers will be beating a path to the door of the T6. The entry-level 115bhp 1.6-litre diesel DRIVe version, on the other hand, is almost miraculously good in this respect for the size and type of car, managing to put out just 114g/km of CO2. If a bit more poke is required, the D3 and D5 diesel models don’t force you to pay too heavily for it, both emitting a reasonable 139g/km of CO2 and returning around 54mpg on the combined cycle. Those aren’t class-leading figures, but they’re pretty reasonable considering the performance on offer. The 231 g/km of CO2 for the T6 is by no means poor for a saloon with over 300 bhp but, with a combined consumption figure of 28.5mpg, you will pay for all that performance at the pumps.

None of these new virtues are class-leading in themselves, 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.