The Swedish-built, Chinese-owned car company (previous owners Ford sold the Swedish marque to Chinese car maker Geely for £1.2bn in March) has always been a world leader in safety, but the new S60 comes with two award-winning innovations: the Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake and City Safety.
Both use a radar unit hidden in the grille and a camera fitted in front of the rear-view mirror to feed information to a central control unit. The first system detects pedestrians in front of the car using the same target acquisition software perfected by the military (only this time to save lives). If a jaywalker strays into your Volvo’s path an audible warning alerts the driver and the brakes are pre-charged. If you then fail to respond quickly enough, the system takes over and automatically activates the car’s full braking power. The programme has been evolved especially to guard against that worst case of all scenarios: a child dashing out in front of you. However it won’t pick them up if they are under 80cm tall – so dogs (and chickens) will still have to take their chances when crossing the road.
The City Safety system does much the same, but prevents those tedious start/stop collisions that are so common in urban traffic queues.
Both of these technologies are merely the cherries in a fruit salad of safety and driver-assist options offered with the S60. There’s the Adaptive Cruise Control with Distance Alert, Queue Assist, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Lane Departure Warning with Driver Alert Control and Blind Spot Information System… It reads like a tasting menu for the ravenous health and safety executive.
So the S60 is another super-safe Volvo… That’s hardly news. Can you keep on selling a car merely on its safety record? Clearly not, because the ad men and women have billed the new S60 the “naughty Volvo”. A rebel with a cause, if you like, and a car very much built to offer a sporty, exciting drive.
It’s certainly a handsome beast with its tapering roofline, abrupt tail and sculpted nose. It’s roomy, comfortable and luxurious. The suspension is firm, the steering precise. More than 70% of sales are expected to be diesel, so the car I tested was the zesty two-litre variant, which gives 0-60mph in 8.7 seconds and a top speed of 137mph – naughty! But before you worry that this Volvo’s going to fall into a lifetime of petty delinquency and jail time, be aware that this same engine does a mighty 53.3mpg at a climate-soothing 139g CO²/km – nice!