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Volvo's ambition with the new S60 is to compete effectively with its three runaway German rivals, the Audi A4, BMW 3-series and Mercedes C-class.
With around 70% of its sales (9700 in 2011) set to be business cars, Volvo is keen to push its upper medium model to fleets, highlighting its reasonable pricing: the S60 is up to £2000 cheaper than its key rivals (see below) and is also the best value for taxpayers at both 20% and 40%, costing them £80 or £159 per month respectively. But add in all the other elements - most notably its residual value, which is considerably lower than the German rivals - and the S60's overall cost per mile is around 2p more at 60.7p.
Volvo still has some way to go to improve its RVs to match its successful competitors. Product manager Chris Wailes acknowledges that poor CO2 figures near the end of its predecessor's lifecycle affected RVs in the new car, but strongly believes these will increase over the next few years.
The S60's most popular fleet model will be its Driv-e version accounting for two-thirds of sales, but is not introduced until early 2011.
In the meantime, it's the 2.0-litre mid-trim S60, the D3 SE 162hp, that will reign supreme, with CO2 of 139g/km, a massive reduction on its predecessor, which fell just under 200g/km. The SE is well-specced with rear park assist, rain sensors, Bluetooth and 17in alloys as standard.
An impressive new safety system, called Pedestrian Detection, brakes automatically when it senses a possible pedestrian collision, but only as a last measure after giving the driver a sharp warning, meaning they can remain in control of the car and swerve to avoid the person. The system prevents a collision up to 22mph; above this speed the car will still autobrake, reducing impact, but not avoiding it entirely. The system, plus adaptive cruise control and a host of other safety measures, is included in the Driver Support Pack that costs an extra £1250.
Volvo has improved the interior of the S60 with the central console more driver-focused and the satnav now integrated into the dash rather than the previous pop-up system.
The front-wheel drive saloon handles tight bends and smooth roads well, but bring in some rough surfaces and ride comfort is a little lacking thanks to a too-stiff suspension.
The six-speed manual gearbox, a much better option than the raggy auto, is fairly good and smooth, although gear changes down around bends seem a little too frequent.
The S60 stands out against the ubiquity of its rivals - a motivator for those wanting something individual and not a BMW, Audi or Merc. While it's not as good as those for overall driveability, it's still certainly worthy of a fleet operator's consideration.