2019 Volvo S60 R-DesignForget the boxy, but practical, shapes of the Volvo range – these are long gone and the latest generation Volvos are arguable in the most bold and stylish of any in the prestige marques.

Volvo S60, the subject of this week’s road test, is the sedan, you can also buy a V60 station wagon. We will try to get into a wagon sometime soon.

This is a midrange vehicle and competes with Audi A4, BMW 3, Jaguar XE and Merc C-Class, though it’s often lower-priced than they are.

The pricing is partly because Volvo Australia is keen on becoming a bigger player in our market. It seems to be succeeding as Volvo Oz had a 16 per cent increase in sales (all models combined) in a total market that was almost 10 per cent down in 2019.

Will it bump up prices once it has moved upmarket in consumers’ minds? Who knows? But our feeling is yes.

The tall bonnet has the familiar diagonal line across the upright grille and the latest in ‘Hammer of Thor’ styling of the headlights. The lower cutouts use a sharp edged shape. The deepish swages in the doors carry forward to the front guards and back to the leading edge of the rear guards.

The roof has an aero-look slope to the bold bootlid with its built-in spoiler. The rear lights carry a similar strong theme to the fronts.

All-In-all, this midsize Volvo sedan makes its own statement that could never be mistaken for any others.

The Scandinavian theme is simple almost to the point of being minimalistic in the dashboard area. The dials are large and easy to see at a glance.

The new Clean Zone multi climate system removes harmful pollutants and particles from outside the cabin to deliver Scandinavian-fresh air on the inside.

2019 Volvo S60 R-Design

Volvo Cars’ driver infotainment system (Sensus) with smartphone integration for both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto is also available.

We really like the large 9-inch vertical centre infotainment screen – which is far more sensible than the skinny horizontal screen in most other vehicles. The Volvo screen lets you see much further ahead on the navigation screen.

Almost like an iPad, the Volvo screens can slide from side to side with the movement of your finger. This is far safer than the hunting deeper and deeper for various pages in competitors’ cars.

At this time the Volvo S60 and V60 come with two four-cylinder turbo-petrol powertrains. The T5 is relatively conventional and produces 187kW of power and 350Nm of torque. The T8 Twin Engine Plug-in Hybrid delivers a combined 311kW and 680Nm.

Volvo didn’t actually ‘invent’ safety in cars, but has been in the forefront of safety for many years.

The S60 and V60 features include Volvo’s semi-autonomous Pilot Assist system, the latest generation of City Safety, Run-off Road protection and mitigation, Cross Traffic Alert with auto brake and 360-degree cameras that help drivers manoeuvre their car into surprisingly tight parking spaces.

Safety also includes driver assistance features. However, we are becoming increasing worried about the number of drivers who rely on their cars to stay out of trouble – so that they can concentrate on their smart phones instead of the road ahead.

2019 Volvo S60

Many have praised the new generation Volvos for their excellent styling, particularly when compared to the boxy shapes of the past. But there’s a drawback, slightly less room in the cabin.

Seating in the front pair is fine, they are well shaped and provide excellent support, even when cornering hard. However, the rear compartment is a little tight for full-size adults so some sharing between the front and rear pews may be called for. As always, try before you buy and take all the potential travelers along for the ride.

On the road there’s the rock-solid Swedish feel that we’ve enjoyed in all Volvos we have driven in the last 40-something years. Having driven in Sweden many times we understand the need for a car to feel safe and secure. The long, cold winters can be trying as they demand utmost concentration in shocking conditions.

Which is made even worse by the fact that you may sometimes drive for many weeks and never see daylight.

The T5 R-Design’s as tested uses the Volvo Four-C adaptive damping system and it works nicely. We found it handles neatly in corners even in the everyday comfort setting. Pushing along at speeds your better half may not approve of it still looks after you and appears to have plenty in hand.

In Australia the new Volvo S60 copes with our, at times awful, coarse-chip road surfaces. Motorway cruising on the M1’s concrete surfaces in our home area in south-east Queensland barely result in any increase in interior sound levels.

Normal suburban running, which is what most of us do most of the time, is peaceful and relaxing.

Volvo continues to upgrade its designs and move upmarket in the prestige field. This new S60 will play a major part in its doing so.


S60 T5 Momentum: $54,990
S60 T5 Inscription: $60,990
S60 T5 R-Design: $64,990
S60 T8 PHEV R-Design: $84,990
Note: These prices do not include government or dealer delivery charges. Contact your local Volvo dealer for drive-away prices.

SPECIFICATIONS (Volvo S60 T5 R-Design)

Capacity: 1.969 litres
Configuration: Four cylinders in line
Maximum Power: 187 kW @ 5700 rpm
Fuel Type: Premium unleaded petrol
Combined Fuel Cycle (ADR 81/02): 7.3 L/100km
CO2 Emissions: 167 g/km

DRIVELINE: Eight-speed automatic

Length: 4761 mm
Wheelbase: 2872 mm
Width: 1850 mm
Height: 1437 mm
Turning Circle: Not supplied
Kerb Mass: 1767 kg
Fuel Tank Capacity: 60 litres

Three years / unlimited kilometres

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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