What is it?
In America, apparently they don’t put labels in boxes of assorted chocolates, telling you how each different delightful sugary nugget is flavoured. So, as Forrest Gump’s mum said, life is like a box of chocolates, in that you never know what you’re going to get.
We British, meanwhile, being more reserved, prefer to know exactly what kind of chocolate we’re getting so insist captioned pictures are enclosed within every box. A box of chocolates here, then, is very much unlike life.
Which brings me, convolutedly, to the new Volvo S60, which is the first Volvo to be built in the US, where it will be nothing like a box of chocolates.
Here, it will be precisely like one. This is a Volvo that gives you – as you’ll guess if you’ve been paying attention to the brand’s recent rapid model roll-out – precisely what you expect, because all new Volvos follow largely the same formula.
To date, it’s a successful one. On the outside, it means you get one of the best-looking cars in its class, if you ask me, which I’m prepared to argue you sort of did. Standard Autocar-design-award-winning Volvo: the new S60 has a strong family resemblance, fine proportions, even some discreet aggression, with just about enough differentiation from other Volvos to currently avoid accusations of Russian Dollness, although I suspect that’s only a matter of time. That they’re better-looking than today’s BMWs probably helps.
Each car has hints of suitability for its segment, at least. The S60’s is the segment of ordinary/nice/4.7m-long saloons, so it’s a rival for anything from a Ford Mondeo to a BMW 3 Series, and Volvo will probably argue at some length that it’s at the more premium end of the market, given the difficulty you’d have spending this S60’s £38,000 on a Mondeo. But with the Ford being much rarer than the BMW these days, if you value exclusivity, a Mondeo, or indeed an S60, which hasn’t set UK sales alight for quite some time, is among your go-to options.
Volvo is, effectively, and by accident rather than design, an SUV company today, given how many off-roaders it sells. And the S60 might remain a niche in its line-up, given family saloons are a declining sector. Especially given it’s launching in only one specification, too – a four-cylinder 2.0-litre in R-Design trim – although more options will come. Nothing bigger than a four-cylinder 2.0-litre, though, and nothing diesel.