A decade ago the average twenty-something might not have been compelled to consider a Volvo.
Not the case today. Models like the vampire-endorsed C30 and striking new V40 have added a cooler element to the brand.
But Volvo has to maintain a balancing act. They need to pander to the funky bunch in addition to pleasing the more conservative types who have long supported the Volvo image of yore.
Models like the S60 are bastions for the wholesome hallmarks one associates with Volvo. The medium-sized saloon is safe, sensible and sophisticated. That is it summed up in a neat alliteration a typical Volvo-driving English professor would approve of.
The S60 and its bigger brethren, the V60 and XC60 were recently treated to a mild makeover. A more imposing grille and new single-piece headlights replace the units of old. Subtle tweaks to the Swede’s rump include squarer tailpipes. There is nothing offensive about the way it looks. A daring R-design package is available though.
Sliding into its cushy quarters is akin to wearing your favourite pair of comfortable slip-on shoes. The inside is what we loved the most about the S60 especially during the inclement weather that struck last week.
Volvo adopts a sparse approach to interior decoration. And it works. The centre “floating” console is not festooned with baffling buttons. We like the chunky switchgear and the solid “thunk” when you shut the doors. Overall it exudes an air of immense durability.
The leather that clads the door looks like – and seems as robust as the skin of an elephant. Any Volvo assessment would not be complete without mention of those chairs. Which embrace the body like a caring paramour on a chilly night.
A five-cylinder diesel mill makes this S60 something of a sleeper. The mellow grumble on idle deceives. But kick the right pedal down and a wave of torque pushes this Swedish sedan forth smoothly and swiftly.
Power is just right in a Goldilocks and The Three Bears kind of way. You never find yourself wanting more kick. The Volvo is happy trundling around town and comes into its stride on the freeway where it effortlessly chomps kilometres. This engine combined with a six-speed automatic transmission makes a delightful duo.
With its 68-litre tank filled to the brim, the S60 gave a range readout of 900 kilometres.
All about the Krona
This D5 model has a starting price of R468 800. We should remember it is a premium product designed to compete with the German triumvirate. Thankfully the S60 feels worth the dough, but when you consider factors like depreciation, you may be swayed.
Our test unit boasted the Premium package (R20 500) which throws in heated seats, a navigation system, keyless entry, park assist and a banging audio system. It also had the Blind Sport Information System (BLIS) for R8000 extra. Finally, adaptive cruise control and a sage collision warning system added R9500 to the sticker price.
That takes the total tally is R522 950. If you want a premium product that manages not to be ostentatious, this is it. But for most buyers out there, when spending half a million Rand on a car, they would want the flash to accompany.
The Technical Stuff:
Model: 2014 Volvo S60 D5 Elite Geartronic
Price: R468 800 (Base) R522 950 (Tested)
Engine: 2.4-litre, five-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Power and Torque: 158kW 440Nm
Fuel Consumption: 7.9l/100km
Test Mileage: 720 kilometres
Praises: Comfortable, quick, solid feel, those seats.
Gripes: Boot smaller than we expected, can get pricey, depreciation.