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Release the Norse engine gods

Introducing Volvo’s S60 T5 R-Design

I’m going to preface this article by admitting that I’m a Volvo fetishist, who owns a Volvo belt buckle and once lost an eBay bidding war for a black Volvo 850 T5, only to convince the seller to let me buy his wife’s Volvo S40 T4. So, I have nothing but fawning adoration for Volvo, the company that in 1962 gave away the patent for the three-point seat belt, for free, to save lives. I also have nothing but praise for the stunning Volvo S60 T5 R-Design, which I thoroughly tested from Dublin to Achill Island, and back, for the gilded readers of the Medical Independent.

New Volvo S60 R-Design interior

People think Volvo is a little square, and it was for a very long time, both in its styling and in the personality of its clientele, according to the stereotype. But time has passed, and the former Swedish workhorse now sits at the top table of European luxury cars. Unless you’re an oddball, like me, you probably won’t love the boxy Volvos of old, and that’s perfectly normal. However, the day of the ‘ugly’ Volvo is over and I think this S60, with its ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED headlight design, is better-looking than its classmates: The Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE, with only the beautiful Alfa Romeo Giulia topping it in the looks department.

New Volvo S60 R-design

When Volvo does a quick engine, it is usually something to behold. In fact, the V8 that used to come in the XC90 was pulled out and weaponised by Noble in their 650hp M600 supercar. The S60 T5 isn’t supercar-fast, but it was more than capable of making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up with its 250hp, 2.0 litre petrol engine. Floor it and the eight-speed automatic gearbox will summon the Norse gods lurking under the bonnet to fire this 1,709kg, 4.7-metre executive saloon from 0-100km/h in 6.5 seconds. There are also a set of paddle shifters mounted to the back of the steering wheel if you’d prefer to manually control the aforementioned engine gods. When you want it to, the S60 T5 has a wonderful ability to be undramatic about speed; it can devour every motorway it comes across in a calm, comfortable manner. In fact, I drove the S60 T4 to work for four days, from Dublin to Wicklow; out to Westport for the weekend and it wasn’t until I was leaving Mayo’s Achill Island on my way home on Sunday that the car needed some petrol. For a powerful car this size, I was very impressed with its fuel economy; I didn’t track the numbers, but Volvo claims it will do 7.4-7.5 L/100k or 30mpg, and I believe it. The S60 T5 is also relatively good for the environment too, as it gets into the 169-170 C02 category, putting it in the €390 Band C road tax class.

New Volvo S60 R-design

Needless to say, it’s a Volvo, so safety comes first and of course this car has a five-star-rated Euro NCAP crash rating. The S60 T5 I tested had a broad range of bells and whistles, including semi-autonomous driving technology thanks to its pilot assist and adaptive cruise control, which is part of the Intellisafe Pro system. This means that the car will steer, brake and accelerate for you, making motorway driving a little less tedious. It does require that you hold the steering wheel, or at least touch it, every 10 or 15 seconds. The Intellisafe system also has blind-spot monitoring, steering assist and the autobrake, collision avoidance system, which I didn’t like, because if you’re trying to park and a cyclist or pedestrian passes you in a way the car doesn’t like, it jams on the brakes, scaring the life out of you. This is not fun when trying to parallel park, in the rain, in a spot beside a cycle lane or a busy road.

The S60 T5 R-design has a beautiful interior, with kisses of Scandinavian luxury design, like the thick aluminium door handles or the metal cylinder that sits in the centre console which you use to select your driving mode. The R-Design seats were comfortable, cool and had a range of different comfort settings and toys. It was big inside and the boot was perfect for family use at 442 litres. The Volvo Sensus infotainment system is one of the best I’ve come across — it’s big, easy to navigate and you can plug in and use Apple CarPlay and Android Auto if you prefer. The Harmon Kardon sound system was as thunderous and amazing as the S60’s ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED headlights and its Norse god-powered engine.

So, lets get down to the dirty business of price. The model I tested, with all its options, cost €56,754, with the T5 starting at €49,624. However, if this is a little rich for your blood, you could also explore the more affordable T4 version of the same engine with 190hp, which starts at €46,622. I absolutely adored this car and you will too. According to Volvo’s advertisements from the 1980s: “It’s always best to invest in durable goods”, and I feel that rings true today too.

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