Bad British roads were used to ready the Volvo S60 for anything
The new S60 might be a Swedish car, but it has a tartan touch. It is the most dynamic Volvo ever thanks to the involvement of one the brand’s Scottish dealers.
Former British Touring Car racer John Cleland, who runs a dealership in Peebles, is behind a suspension setup honed on a track in Sweden and fine tuned on the roads of Britain.
Inside the car, the leather seat trim is made by Scottish company Bridge of Weir and the UK launch was held.....where else but Scotland.
Chris Wailes, Volvo’s European product and pricing manager, sat alongside Cleland as they fettled the handling.
He said: “It was important to do the fine tuning on British roads as they are not as well maintained as elsewhere in Europe. If the car handles well here, it will be fine pretty much anywhere else.”
All wheel drive is standard on the T6 three-litre petrol model to make the handling even more sporty. The computer controlled system automatically sends torque to the wheels with most grip, ensuring maximum possible traction and primary safety. The front to rear torque split changes constantly - from zero to 100%, front or rear.
Wailes and Cleland spent two years working on the suspension. He added: “It was important that this car is fun to drive because this is what buyers in this segment are looking for. We have to be up there with the best such as the BMW 3 series and Audi A4.”
Volvo says it will also be ahead of its German rivals on price with the base model costing GBP23,295 when customer deliveries start in September.
There is some more unique technology as the S60 will be the only model in this segment with the automaker's 'city safety' collision warning system fitted as standard.
An additional GBP1,250 adds pedestrian protection, the radar and camera controlled system that will bring the car to an immediate halt at speeds of 22mph and below if it detects a person in front of the car. At higher speeds it will scrub off as much speed as possible to reduce the risk of serious injury.
Apart from the new pedestrian detection with full auto brake, the S60 has a load of other advanced safety technology, including driver alert control to to guard against tiredness or distraction (Lexus had this first), blind spot and lane departure warnings and active bi-xenon lights that 'see' around corners.
The cabin is full of useful, easy use technology including a new infotainment system combining audio, navigation, mobile phone and other functions with a five- or seven-inch colour screen in the upper part of the centre console.
Kevin Meeks, Volvo UK’s network and business development manager, said 70% of S60 sales will be to corporate fleets and the engine line up reflects this.
The 2-litre D3 diesel emits 139g/km of C02 and the 2.4-litre D5, I5 diesel, 147 g/km. From launch there will be one petrol engine, the UK-built T6 3-litre I6, but three new emissions-busting petrol units will be available later this year while a 65mpg 1.6-litre DRIVe version will be available next year.
Annual tax payable
% of P11D
2.0 D3 ES
2.0 D3 SE
2.0 D3 SE
2.4 D5 ES
2.4 D5 SE
2.4 D5 SE
3.0 T6 AWD SE
Meeks said that while the S60 is the Swedish carmaker’s most dynamic vehicle yet, there is still work to do on the company’s brand image – people still think of big, boring estates.
“ Heritage is our achilles heel,” said Meeks. “But we now have a bigger range of cars and we have moved on from where we were 20 years ago. We still have a job to do in terms of perception which is why we encourage our dealers to put models like the C70 and C30 at the front of the showroom window – cars some people may not expect to see from Volvo.”
Meeks also said the Volvo is seeing good growth in the UK following tough business conditions in 2008 and 2009.
“We had to set ourselves some priorities, a strategy called 1-2-3-Go, one being 1% return on sales for dealers, 2 is 2% market share, up from 1.6% and 3 being in the top 3 for brand recognition.
“18 months on and dealers are getting a 2% return on sales on average, some are even getting 5%, we are bang on 2% market share and our brand recognition is on the way up through such things as our involvement with the Twilight series.”