Since the turn of the millennium, Volvo has changed out of sight. Some may continue to think of the now Chinese-owned firm as a purveyor of boxy Swedish estates, but the situation on the ground couldn’t be more different.
Catalysed by the arrival of the XC90 in 2002, Volvo’s growth has been built on an expanding range of suave, sophisticated SUVs. A look at its 2018 annual report confirms it: of the 642,253 cars sold globally last year, 56% wore ‘XC’ badges.
It’s interesting to ponder, then, just where the subject of this week’s road test might fit into that broader picture. Any premium car maker worth its salt needs to be represented in the compact executive saloon class; and while the S60 has always been a more leftfield alternative to rivals from BMW, Audi and Mercedes, that hasn’t stopped it from being a strong performer for Volvo.
However, as the second-generation S60 aged, it inevitably began to take a back seat: of the 50,319 Volvos sold in the UK in 2018, the S60 accounted for just 960. The weight of expectation placed on this new US-built, third-generation model to revitalise those sales will be significant.