If you want dynamism from a car in this class, the chances are that you don’t head to a Volvo dealer for a test drive.
And despite this being a magazine aimed at car enthusiasts, the Volvo’s attitude is fine by us, because although it doesn’t have a dynamic demeanour that you would describe as ‘sporting’, it’s quite a pleasing steer.
The ride, on 50-profile, modestly wide winter tyres, is compliant, and although there’s a little looseness of body control as a result, never would you class it as an untidy handler.
The steering is precise and accurate and, at 2.8 turns from lock to lock, quite fast enough, and all of those things combined – plus well judged control weights – make the S60 a ridiculously easy car in which to drive long distances without it tiring you out. Throw in low noise levels and excellent seats and you have what is, quite possibly, the best car in the class for covering vast mileages in one hit.
Search through a couple of sub-menus and you’ll find the option to disable the S60’s stability control. Partially, at least. And the fact that you’re required to dig deep, rather than it being a single button on the dashboard, tells you much of what you need to know about the S60’s handling: that Volvo does not expect you to be troubling its envelope often.
Nonetheless, the S60 is a tidy drive. Its steers pleasingly but with a little squish and dives only moderately under braking (and with tyres better suited to the conditions, it might have been better at both). Then it turns with the sort of response that you’d expect from a 1600kg car with 60 per cent of its weight over the front axle.
In the dry, then, the tendency is to understeer, in lower–speed corners at least. Leave the stability control engaged and it’ll cut in quickly but subtly, shortly after understeer has begun. Disengage it and it’ll do the same, only with the thresholds set that little bit higher. In both cases, it cuts in and out cleanly.
Is it ever fun? At times. Its handling is always front-led and shorter of agility than a BMW 3 Series or the equally beguiling Jaguar XE, but we found it as entertaining as a cooking Audi A4, which it also out-rides. It is thoroughly fit for its purpose and there is much to admire about that.