Looks and executive appeal

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Volvo is a company that’s evolving nicely of late.

They don’t create just bland, wardrobe-carrying boxes on wheels anymore.

The styling cues, the styling cues are right up there with the best.

To be fair to Volvo, the blandness was more a perception than fact, even some of those load-luggers were pretty sprightly and they all spacious and comfortable people carriers.

In recent years the company has been lacking somewhat in one of the most important sector’s in the car industry – the four-door executive saloon.

Again, to be fair, the S40 was a very nice car, but not quite big enough to appeal to an executive market.

One car that aims to address this shortcoming is the sportier, pretty and up-market S60.

Aimed firmly at the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and the C-Class Mercedes buyers, it certainly gives you more car for your money – but can it ultimately take sales away from the might of the Germans?

I first saw a S60 on the road coming back from a golf trip and my eyes nearly popped-out. A Volvo looking this good, I thought?

It said S60 D3 on the rear so I had to book one, straight away.

So I did, and here it is. Now you can have many engine options in this range petrol or diesel but mine here is my preferred choice – a 2.0-litre 161bhp diesel unit that sits nicely within the range,

Sure at some point I’ll try the (great) sounding turbo 3.0-litre that churns out 300+bhp, or the 2.0-litre petrol T5 that navigates 240bhp through its front wheels.

I had a commute to St Albans whilst I had the D3 and I looked forward to the serenity of the journey, and with the promise of over 52mpg not filling it up either.

It didn’t disappoint. It was smooth, quick and responsive and the driving position was absolutely the best I’ve sat in a car for ages.

It was the R-Design model mind, which is Volvo’s styling arm, but it was just so good I can’t tell you enough about it.

An on the emissions front, it didn’t fail to achieve either; just 129g/km meaning a real lightweight on hurting the environment.

Top speed is a comfortable 130mph, with 0-60 taking just over 9 seconds but it felt sprightlier than the figures suggest.

I’ve already mentioned it’s a looker, what with the double headlights at the front, smooth curves running down the sides and an appealing rump.

In many respects I can see the Ford Mondeo in it (after all, it uses the same chassis) but that’s where the similarities end, this is a far more brash, attractive car.

Inside you will find peacefulness like never before.

Volvo’s of old have always brandished leather and wood – in the premium sector anyway – but it’s not all style over substance.

Now, we have a floating centre stack that is a Volvo trademark, plus it harbours metallic trim and no hard edges! I found it rather cosseting on my 200-mile round trip.

Everything is to hand too, it uses precise switchgear and getting in and out is without compromise.

It’s also roomier, not just up-front but in the rear too; boot space is larger also, more-so when you fold the seats down if needed at the tug of a paddle.

As with all Volvos, the safety hasn’t been compromised – it’s still a safe a car to have an accident in as it’s always been, thanks to the raft of features like countless airbags and a safety-cell it has as standard.

My test car had a price tag of £27,400, which seems about right for the kit it has and pitched nicely with the similarly-priced 320d SE BMW.

This S60 D3 is both practical and reliable plus it’s now sporty and stylish.

I can definitely see this car as a viable alternative to the might of the German community and I’ll defy anyone who drives it to say they don’t agree; it’s that good, promise.