Monday, 28 September 2020

Latest Volvo’s a glimpse of the shape of things to come

Latest Volvo’s a glimpse of the shape of things to come

HG Wells was not alluding specifically to the future of the motorcar when he published his sci-fi novel The Shape of Things to Come in 1933.

But he was speculating on future events — both political and social — up to the year 2106. It was great imaginative writing at a time when no one could foresee what the technology and digital revolutions would mean to us all in 2019.

And yet this week I have been driving a car that would surely have been considered “pure science fiction” back in the Thirties.

There’s still plenty of time in which to flesh out the themes in Wells’ novel — actually, just under a century — and goodness knows what cars will be like then.

For the here and now, Volvo’s S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD
R-Design Plus Automatic is an incredibly sophisticated car.

Introduced in Britain earlier this year, this third-generation S60 is Volvo’s first modern model not to feature a diesel engine, as Volvo moves to petrol and electrified alternatives. Its T8 Twin Engine’s petrol-electric plug-in hybrid system offers CO2 emissions from just 39g/km yet also delivers 390hp.

So the car has green credentials in abundance without compromising power and performance.

And by the way, the car looks the part. The S60 of past generations has been an admirable workhorse of an executive saloon.

This new 2019 S60 is something else. Not for nothing was the new S60 named best executive car in the 2019 Scottish Car of the Year Awards.

John Murdoch, president of the Association of Scottish Motoring Writers, nicely encapsulated the appeal of this smart new S60.

He said that the S60 was “discreetly classy, sleek and with a sporting style” and that it delivered an ideal combination of comfort, driving engagement and equipment. Murdoch also praised Volvo’s “superb safety kit”. This is a theme I have tried to emphasise whenever I have reviewed Volvo cars.

It’s not just good enough for carmakers to produce cars that appeal to the eye. In the real world of the motor car today, safety would be my number one issue. The apparent frequency of road accidents today alarms me.

Safety is synonymous with Volvo and always has been. The S60 demonstrates the advanced technologies Volvo is deploying in its mission to eliminate the risk of serious injuries and fatalities in its new cars.

These include, as standard, City Safety, which can detect vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists and large animals in the car’s path by day or night, automatically alerting the driver and providing autonomous braking if necessary to avoid or reduce the severity of an impact.

Further protection is provided in the form of Oncoming Lane Mitigation, a segment-first system to help avoid accidents with oncoming vehicles. Built at Volvo’s US plant in Charleston, South Carolina, the S60 is available in the UK in three grades.

R-Design Plus has sharper styling details for the exterior and interior and, for the T5 petrol version, lower, stiffer suspension.

Other features include 18in diamond-cut alloy wheels, a power-adjustable driver’s seat, 10-speaker sound system with two USB ports, heated front seats, gearshift paddles, 12.3-inch digital driver’s display and dual-zone climate control with Volvo’s CleanZone air-quality system.

The Inscription Plus version emphasises luxury with ventilated front seats, Nappa soft leather upholstery, hand-finished Driftwood interior inlays and powered front passenger seat adjustment.

The range-topping S60 T8 Polestar Engineered gets high-performance upgrades to its suspension, brakes, wheels, engine and transmission, along with styling features.

All new Volvos are connected by the Swedish carmaker’s infotainment system called Sensus. This delivers an intuitive touchscreen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment applications such as Spotify, Pandora, Baidu or TuneIn.

The portrait-oriented touch screen enables quick access to functions and features. As in the 90 Series cars, smartphone integration with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also available.

The S60 is also available with Pilot Assist, which provides levels of acceleration and braking control and steering assistance to help keep the car in its lane, at a set speed and at a safe distance from any vehicle ahead, making driving safer and less tiring for those who have to cover long distances.

The hybrid has been around a while and lots of carmakers have hybrid models in their model range. But the S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus Automatic takes us to another level.


S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus Automatic

On the road prices from £38,285 (T5 R-Design Plus)

S60 available with 250hp T5 petrol engine or 405hp Polestar Engineered petrol-electric high-performance hybrid powertrain

Standard equipment includes:

Eight-speed automatic transmission

Sensus connectivity system with touchscreen and voice control

Satellite navigation

Adaptive LED headlights

Front and rear parking sensors

Hands-free boot opening

Dual-zone climate control

18in diamond-cut alloy wheels

Volvo safety systems as standard