Thankfully Volvo survived and is on a roll, a 7 percent boost to sales resulting in production exceeding half a million cars in 2017 and China alone (Volvo's biggest market) seeing a 25.8 percent year-on-year increase. Meanwhile a $1.1 billion investment in a new production facility in South Carolina will bring 4,000 jobs and production of the new S60 sedan, underlining the importance of the American market to Volvo's ambitions.
This comes on the back of significant investment and high-quality product, the proprietary Scalable Platform Architecture under this new V60 shared with the XC90, S90 and V90 and the new XC60. A pledge to include part-electric propulsion on all new products by 2019 and ambition that no occupant of a Volvo will suffer death or serious injury in an accident post-2020 fulfill its image as an environmentally conscious and safety-aware brand. Beyond those worthy goals, the cars are also more stylish, better equipped and better built than ever.
Highlights of this new V60 include a symbolic break from the Ford era architecture of the outgoing model. Powertrains are Volvo's own. Expect Europe to get the V60 with plug-in hybrid options based on the familiar T6 and T8 Twin Engine AWD options available on the XC60, XC90 and others. T6 gets 340 horsepower and the T8 390 hp, while at launch the sole non-hybrid option will be the 310-hp T6 AWD, all models based around the same turbo/supercharged 2.0-liter gasoline engine. In due course expect a turbo-only, non-hybrid, front-driven T5, and diesel markets will get D3 and D4 options where appropriate. In the U.S., we'll have solid specs later, but you can safely expect the base FWD T6 to start, driven through an eight-speed auto.
Losing two inches in wheelbase and seven inches overall to its V90 big brother, this new V60 is still significantly longer, wider and lower than the car it replaces. Criticisms of the existing V60 include a surprising lack of interior space given the practical image, this new one increasing cargo capacity from 43.2 cubic feet to 48.2 and rear legroom by two inches. Like other models on the SPA platform, the V60 runs a quirky, Corvette style transverse leaf spring rear suspension setup.
Those proportions make the new V60 the sleekest Volvo in the range, the brand's newfound confidence reflected in its crisp, modernist styling. Cues like the cool-sounding 'Thor's Hammer' running light signature balance assertiveness to compete with the premium German rivals with a more understated overall look demonstrating Volvo has its own way of playing the same game. Inside and out this is a great looking car, and any worries the puny-sounding cylinder count and displacement may not deliver silenced when you hear the hybrid T6 version will blitz 0-62 miles per hour in just 4.8 seconds — a whole second faster than the T5. The rest of the family may not appreciate you nailing sports cars off the line at the lights, but the knowledge a Volvo station wagon is capable of such things will put a smile on your face.
Keep that one to yourself. More familiar Volvo attributes are of course present and correct, the new V60 building on the outgoing model's already strong safety offering. The existing standard-fit City Safety system has been expanded, Autobrake interventions now possible when sensors detect pedestrians, bicyclists or large animals. The ability to do the same in the face of oncoming vehicles and mitigate head-on impacts is claimed as a world first. An upgraded Pilot Assist, familiar from the XC60 and others in the current range, is also available and uses steering interventions to counter lane departure and oncoming vehicles. Optionally it can also include Cross Traffic Alert.
All being well these are features you'll never need to test, technology you can appreciate on your daily commute including the latest Sensus infotainment system with its large, vertically oriented touchscreen. As you'd expect, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G integration are all in place, the screen being your main interaction for everything from navigation to heating and ventilation. The better for realising the clean, uncluttered and typically Scandinavian interior design philosophy that makes other new-school Volvos such relaxing places to rack up the miles.
Pricing and availability are at this stage are not yet available, but by putting a modern twist on its traditional strengths Volvo's revival looks right on course.