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Volvo S60 T5 R-Design - Driven

Article & photos copyright Paul Blank

The Volvo S60 might not be what you have in mind when you think of an American car, but itís produced in South Carolina for all world markets Ė including right hand drive versions.

Like a traditional American car, itís not. The S60 T5 R-design I tested was an impressive car. It took a few days for me to get a proper handle on what a good car it really is.

Itís decked out with all the necessary accoutrements of a modern luxury car, both in the comfort and electronic stakes.

But where it excels perhaps unexpectedly, in its handling. The T5 corners like itís supposed to go around corners, easily. Which a lot of cars struggle with. It may be small differences, but the engineers have got a remarkable mix of suspension, steering geometry, tyre choice, swaybar and comfort settings exactly spot on. Iím not talking about hacking around corners at high speed here, just everyday driving. A lot of car makers could learn something here.

The car also feels beautifully build. Yes, the R-design version is the sporty model, but it doesnít crash over road irregularities. It always feels taught and well made Ė which traditionally wasnít an American car trait. Itís not just a feeling, looking at the build of the car inside and out, thereís no doubting itís a quality car.

There are only a couple of real criticisms I can make... The paddle shifters for the smooth 8-speed automatic transmission are steering wheel-mounted for one Ė a poor choice Ė paddles should always be in a static location in a car. And, they are too close to the rim of the wheel, resulting in inadvertent use too often.

A minor gripe, the Head Up Display isnít adjustable, so when I had the seat in a low position, I had to peer up to see it. Iím 6-foot tall and imagine it would be a problem for shorter drivers who donít want to have the seat up in a high position. The warning for stopped or slower cars ahead tends to get a bit panicky tooÖ

The 2-litre turbo engine is a willing performer Ė smooth and certainly capable of providing very good performance. It produces a very accessible 192kW of power and 400Nm of torque, and runs on 95 RON fuel.

As the top of the line S60, the review car had a base price of $64,990, and was fitted with options including the panoramic glass sunroof, metallic paint, rear window blind and very expensive Bowers & Wilkins sound system adding $6500 into the mix. The S60 starts with the Momentum version at $54,990 Ė a proper bargain.

The tech works well, with the excellent 360-degree camera display and rear side traffic monitoring among the highlights. The all-wheel-drive Ďon demandí is seamless and would be a boon that few of the Volvoís competitors offer in slippery conditions.

Thereís a 3-year warranty and very competitive capped price servicing.

The S60 is an easy car to use, in every way. Spacious, comfortable, boasting a big boot and excellent equipment levels for its price. More Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi buyers should consider the Volvo option.