S60 with added blis

It’ll take a keen eye to spot the changes, but this is the new, refreshed Volvo S60, demonstrating chief designer Steve Harper’s efforts to ‘tone up’ the S60/V70/XC70 range.

That means new grille and bumpers (different to the V70’s to further separate the models), sill extensions, clear light lenses, water-repellent glass and Audi-style flat-blade wipers.

Before year’s end you’ll also be able to specify Volvo’s new BLIS (Blind Spot Information System), which uses cameras beneath the door mirrors to detect cars and motorcycles in your blind spot and activates a warning light on the inside of the door. Inside there’s a soft dash-top, an even better sound system and an all-new central tunnel.

There are two cupholders by the handbrake, two in the new multi-function glovebox and two more in the rear armrest. Volvo drivers obviously get very thirsty. Soft-touch plastics, solid build and superbly trimmed optional (£2600) Sovereign leather give a real impression of quality.

Increasing capacity from 2.3 to 2.4 litres has boosted power by 10bhp to 260bhp. Torque is up too from 243 to 258lb ft, but, more importantly, the yawning gap of past T5s while you wait for the turbo to spool has gone, and a hefty 225lb ft is available from 1800rpm.

Together with the new six-speed ’box, which is still notchy but lacks the baulk of its predecessor, it makes the T5 extremely quick, sprinting from rest to 62mph in just 6.5sec. And with 10 per cent larger front discs and XC90 callipers, the S60’s brakes are equally impressive.

Despite the pre-launch video demonstrating an S60 oversteering down a motorway sliproad, the Volvo remains a resolute understeerer in tighter corners. But grip from the 225/45 R17 ContiSport Contacts is strong and our test car came with the optional (£1100) Four-C active chassis, which monitors body and wheel movement and adjusts the shock absorbers to suit.

It’s tuned to be ‘sportier’ than the V70, so is firm and bouncy even in Comfort mode. Switch to Sport and it skips and fidgets constantly, but there is a noticeable difference in body control, the dampers firming up to contain roll a split second into a corner. However the steering, though more responsive than the V70’s, remains lifeless.

Alastair Clements

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Volvophile 17 June 2012

When these were facelifted in

When these were facelifted in 2004 they became a great car.  New turbocharger and plenty more torque.  Really do plan to get one some day.