Volvo S60 2020 long-term review

As a result, our eye-catching Fusion Red metallic (£675) example has extras such as the £750 Active Four-C Chassis (that’s adaptive dampers to you and me) and the £1625 Intellisafe Pro system, which adds some automated driving tech such as adaptive cruise control and steering.

Elsewhere, there’s a £350 Winter Pack (heated steering wheel, windscreen and washer jets), plus heated rear seats (£200). A £375 reversing camera augments the standard sensors, while the £1100 retractable towbar has been added so we can use the family’s bike rack. Arguably the greatest indulgence is the addition of the Bowers & Wilkins hi-fi upgrade, complete with its 15 speakers and 1100W output, for an eye-watering (or should that be ear-bleeding?) £2500.

All in, the total is a – gulp – hefty £46,940. Yet before we could get to assess the fruits of profligacy, there was the small matter of getting our S60 built and shipped, which is no small feat when you consider that this car is manufactured in South Carolina rather than Sweden.

While we waited, Volvo gave us the chance to try out its larger S90 saloon. It’s been around a few years now, but it’s built on the same SPA scalable architecture, and in the T5 R-Design form tested it features the same 247bhp turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and eight-speed automatic gearbox. It had been a while since I’d had a spin in the big saloon, but I was pleasantly surprised by both the performance from the engine and its refinement. It’s not a characterful unit to the ear, but in the S90 it’s muted and delivers effortless urge, particularly in the mid-range. However, as someone who remembers the Volvo 850, I still feel a pang of disappointment that these days anything with a T5 badge goes without the old car’s distinctive syncopated five-cylinder soundtrack.

Handling sparkle was in short supply in the S90, but it was at least composed, sure-footed and precise, although the trade-off was an underlying firmness to the R-Design’s stiffer suspension. That said, the beautifully executed interior was supremely quiet and the seats are among the most supportive there are. If the S60 can deliver these traits in a more compact and less pricey package, then Volvo could be onto a winner.

And certainly that’s what it feels like now the S60 has arrived. It was delivered with just 500-odd miles showing on its TFT display, so we’re still in the running-in period, but already there’s a sense that it has all of the larger car’s qualities but with an extra dollop of wieldiness and a larger helping of ride comfort. Even when gently worked, the engine is a lusty performer and nicely isolated, while the gearbox swaps between ratios with speedy smoothness. It looks great, too, with far tauter lines in the metal than you’d think, while the rear-end treatment is much more effective than that of the slightly blobby S90.

Yet it’s the interior that’s the real star, with its minimalist Scandi style and top-notch finish. The light cream leather and driftwood inlays only enhance the feeling of cool sophistication – although they’re not best suited to the on-the-go dietary habits of my two young children.

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