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Wheeling in: Volvo V60 D2 R-Design
Driving the new Volvo V60 leaves you with a reassuring glow — an orange glow that is.
Both in the heads-up display of the windscreen and to the sides, the V60 delivers more technology aimed at keeping driver, passengers and pedestrians safe than any other vehicle on the road.
I will spare you the raft of acronyms that Volvo have tagged on to their systems but, in a nutshell, they all work together to help keep you on the road, and keep you and yours in one piece.
The V60 is based on the coupé-styled S60 saloon, and to all intents and purposes it drives just like one. Its major advantage over the saloon is added versatility and carrying capacity.
The rear seats fold 40:20:40, the same as Volvo's large load-lugger, the V70, and to further improve carrying capacity, the front passenger seat backrest can also fold forward, which helps to carry long items. In the loadspace, there are also hooks for carrying and lockable under-floor storage.
Sharp-looking and taut to drive, the V60 has faster steering and more nimble handling than any previous Volvo, possibly thanks to most of the damper tuning being carried out on old Roman roads in England.
Engines range from the top-of-the-range 3.0-litre, six-cylinder, 155mph, 300 horsepower T6, to the DRIVe test model with its economical 1.6-litre, four-cylinder diesel engine, which still manages to combine considerable spriteliness with impressive fuel consumption of about 60mpg.
The popular R-Design specification strengthens the sporting air, with lowered suspension, stiffer spring rates and revised dampers. The cars also gets 18-inch, five-spoke aluminium alloy wheels, specially stitched and embossed R-Design sports seats and a three-spoke steering wheel.
Other touches in the classy, yet cosy and classically simple Scandinavian cabin, include racetrack-type aluminium alloy pedals with rubber ridges, an aluminium centre stack, a perforated leather gearshift knob and special hand-tufted sports mats.
So it is sporty to look at and sporty to drive, but safety still reigns supreme. One system automatically avoids low-speed impacts up to 30km/h (19mph); another monitors your progress between lane markings and alerts you if you are tired or distracted, and yet another helps detect vehicles in the rear blind spots on both sides of the car.
In addition, a separate system alerts the driver if the car runs across lane markers without the indicators being used and bi-xenon headlights follow the bends in the road.
Add to that, radar-controlled cruise control that keeps the car a pre-set distance from the one in front, seat-mounted side airbags, inflatable curtains and a whiplash protection system and you start to get the wrap-round safety message.
The V60 is also the world’s first estate to offer a pedestrian detection system, using a digital camera and radar to scan the road ahead. If the system detects a pedestrian, and the driver fails to respond to warnings, the car will automatically brake.
The system is a development of Volvo’s higher-speed collision warning system, which uses a nose-mounted radar and camera to warn drivers if they are about to hit another vehicle, and apply the brakes automatically if necessary.
Volvo has been pioneering safety since the company was founded, from its safety cage of 1944, to the three-point seat belt in 1959 and side-impact airbags in 1994.
To top that, Volvo has set itself the goal of having no fatalities or serious injuries in a new Volvo car by the year 2020. It might be stating the obvious, but that is some way off.
In the meantime, drive safely.
Auto facts Volvo V60 D2 R-Design DRIVe Premium
- Price: £28,555
- Insurance group: 21 (1-50)
- Fuel consumption (Combined): 67.5mpg
- Top speed: 118mph
- Luggage capacity: 19.7 cu ft
- Fuel tank capacity: 14.8 gallons/67.5 litres
- CO2 emissions: 119g/km
- Warranty: Three years/60,000 miles