The new Volvo S60 is the most fun to drive Volvo ever, according to company CEO Steve Odell.
Speaking at the car's launch in Geneva, Odell said: "This car will definitely create a headache or two in the Euro D segment. It's the most fun to drive Volvo ever."
The S60 has the world first pedestrian protection system, which Volvo says can play a significant role in reducing the number of pedestrian fatalities in road traffic accidents. At present, 14 per cent of all road traffic accident deaths are pedestrians.
It works up to 35kph and will automatically detect pedestrians and stop the car if you are at risk of hitting someone. Above 35kph it will also act to slow the car down to reduce the severity of impacts.
Odell also confirmed the V60 estate will be unveiled at September's Paris motor show.
The new car is described by Volvo design boss Peter Horbury as a “brakes-off” vehicle. He told Autocar it allows the firm to push its design themes harder and incorporate a more typically Swedish look into its products. Volvo is aiming to sell 90,000 units in its first year, and will hope to increase this to match the lifetime best of 110,000 of the first S60.
Volvo is also making much of the work that has gone into developing the car’s chassis and suspension to provide what it says is “the most dynamic car we’ve ever presented”.
The foundation for these claims is the extended Mondeo platform on which the car is based, coupled with S60-specific revisions. Two variants will be offered — Dynamic and Comfort — with different dampers and changes to the subframes. Dynamic will be standard in Europe, with Comfort as an option; in Asia and the US the reverse will apply.
The steering is faster than the old S60’s, while the suspension has been tuned to provide a firmer, sharper driving experience with stiffer bushes and mountings in the subframes and dampers.
The car will be launched with two petrol engines — a 304bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and a 203bhp 2.0-litre turbo four — as well as two five-cylinder diesels, with 205bhp and 163bhp.
Four more engines, all four-cylinder units, will be added during the first year of production, including 240bhp 2.0-litre petrol unit and a 180bhp 1.6 petrol. All models will be available with four-wheel drive as an option.
The S60 is also available with Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection system, which brings the car to a halt if it detects an imminent collision with a pedestrian. It will also use the brakes to avoid hitting the car in front.
The S60 represents what Horbury calls the completion of the modernisation of Volvo design. “Our next job is to make bigger steps,” he said. “We have one per cent of the world market, so our cars need to be recognised.”