Volvo recently launched the third-generation S60, marking its first model offered without a diesel engine. It is also the first Volvo car made in the US, where diesel remains a less popular fuel option. Continuing QUBE/just-auto’s review of interior design and technology trends, we take a closer look inside this sleek mid-size petrol-powered sedan.

Steady growth

Volvo Cars’ global sales continued to grow at a steady pace last month, up 7.1 per cent year on year. Total sales during July reached 54,546 cars, as all the major regions of China, the US and Europe reported growth in volumes. Year to date, total sales reached 395,372, up 7.3 per cent. Volume growth in July was on the back of continued strong demand for SUVs, led by the XC60, XC40 and XC90. The V60 estate and US-made S60 saloon also contributed to the volume.    

Inside story

The instrument cluster springs to life as you enter the S60, displaying all the usual and critical driver information. Built-in light sensors control the brightness of the display that adjusts to exterior lighting conditions. Positioned on a central satin chrome stack is a single rotary jewel-like knob beneath a large feature-packed nine-inch touchscreen. Although the carmaker’s aim is to provide a less distracted driving experience, even adjusting the HVAC requires poking and prodding a screen.

The touchscreen is flanked by a pair of vertical chrome air vents. These have a silver central section – for directing the flow of air – that appears to ‘float’ in the middle of the vent. This is adjusted via a diamond-cut rotary control knob, which is also seen in Volvo’s new 40 and 90 series cars.

We have often found that the steering wheel controls on Volvo models are particularly intuitive. The S60 is no exception. The left-hand spoke offers control of driving-function related systems such as speed limiter, adaptive cruise control and so on. The right-hand spoke accesses all the crisp infotainment features, including audio, phone and navigation. The twist-and-go engine start mounted on the tunnel console was a joy to use.

The heated, snug black Nappa leather front seats, panoramic roof and plush interior trim add to the car’s sporty yet relaxed ambience. Premium features include driver’s head-up display, rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, heated steering wheel and a 14-speaker Bowers and Wilkins surround sound system. We also appreciated the 150-watt three-pin UK domestic power socket found on the rear of the centre console to re-charge gadgets.

Storage-wise, the S60 has plenty of fuzzy felt-lined cubby holes with two cup holders in the front and rear. We also like the attention to detail.  For example, the storage bins are fitted with soft close lids and the sides of the centre console are lined with carpet so you won’t graze your knuckles as you buckle up your seat belt.

Advanced driver assistance systems

As we would expect from safety-loving Volvo, the S60 comes loaded with semi-autonomous and connected car features most of which are shown on an intuitive and responsive portrait touchscreen. It shares the automaker’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform, safety technology and infotainment system with the latest V60 as well as the 90 Series cars and XC60.

Available on the R Design Edition, the S60’s so-called IntelliSafe Assist technologies include adaptive cruise control, distance alert and Pilot Assist, a functionality that provides gentle steering input in the event of lane drifting on motorways. The S60 R-Design Edition also comes with blind-spot detection, cross-traffic alert and oncoming lane mitigation. The latter automatically provides steering assistance if you unwittingly drift out of your lane, guiding you back into your lane and out of the path of any oncoming vehicles.

Connectivity

Incorporated across the Volvo range is its so-called Sensus Connect. This cloud-based service allows the driver to find and pay for parking from the car, find a restaurant, stream favourite music and a few more things besides. The driver can also have text messages read out loud without removing their hands from the wheel. Also falling under the auspices of Sensus Connect is Volvo On Call that allows drivers to communicate directly with their car via a smartphone application to lock, unlock, check fuel levels, locate and check mileage on the car. The Sensus Connect infotainment system is compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G standard.

As part of Volvo’s Sensus technology, In-car delivery is a new service that allows online orders to be delivered directly to the boot of any Volvo. Using the carmaker’s On Call service, In-car delivery allows single-time access for depositing items such as groceries or dry-cleaning in the boot of a parked car. It essentially turns a car into a preferred delivery address. You can also send a destination directly to the car’s sat-nav so it’s all ready to go when you get into the car.

Last month, Volvo Car UK let it be known that it was boosting its in-car connectivity offering by fitting a data SIM card as standard to all its new models. The feature is being introduced on all 2020 model year cars and can be retrofitted to any that have already been delivered to customers. The SIM card creates an on-board WiFi hotspot that can be used by a maximum of eight devices.

On the road

We clocked up a few hundred miles last week in the S60 R-Design Edition, most of that cruising along dual-carriageways and country roads. Seated for such long and winding journeys felt quite comfortable surrounded by a commanding cockpit. Its uncomplicated, clean and classy cabin swathed with soft-touch trim and supportive leather seats make this a serene place to sit for a few hours. On balance, the latest generation S60 remains a solid, safe and sensible choice, bristling with appealing spec. Although it doesn’t yet drive itself, the Pilot Assist goes some way to support this aim.