The Swedes are renowned for making safe and stylish cars at excellent value, and the 2022 Volvo S60 B5 Inscription is no exception. Compared to the popular Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series, it remains a smart but left-field choice.
With the flagship S90 no longer sold down under, the S60 represents your only ticket into a Volvo sedan, and to make it even simpler, there’s only one trim, the B5 Inscription, and it’s all you need.
As standard, it’s outfitted with equipment that rivals often demand a premium for, and unlike some Volvos of the past, this one is perfectly proportioned. You’ll even have no idea the S60 is based on a front-wheel-drive platform, because it’s not bulbous at the front.
From the “Thor’s Hammer” headlights to the creases in the bodywork, we struggled to find an unattractive angle to the exterior. The taillights may look straight out of Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, but they help this Swede stand out from the crowd.
The Pebble Grey paint doesn’t exactly pop though, but there’s always Crystal White or Onyx Black. Impressively, regardless of what you prefer, all paint finishes come at no additional cost. As for alloys, like the trim levels, there’s just one choice, in 19-inch.
Keyless entry lets you gracefully enter the cabin, and once inside, the endless seat adjustments, including four-way lumbar support, make it effortless to find a comfortable seating position. Best of all, the heated seats are actually warm.
While some manufacturers define luxury through ostentatious gimmicks, Volvo takes an old-school approach and ensures that its interior craftsmanship is second to none. For starters, the S60 is fitted with driftwood trim and leather seats as standard.
Our test vehicle went one better though, upgraded to optional perforated Nappa leather. You then have sumptuous details, such as the metal speaker grilles, the Orrefors crystal gear shifter, and the Swedish flags on the side of each seat.
The charcoal interior colour scheme is tasteful, but we do wish Blond and Maroon Brown interiors were available in Australia. The gargantuan panoramic sunroof does help light up the cabin though, and keeps things feeling airy.
Replacing your traditional gauge cluster is a crisp 8.0-inch digital display, which complements the head-up display perfectly. Although it isn’t as configurable as Audi’s Virtual Cockpit, it still displays the most relevant of information.
Paired to this is a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment system, which can be used to control almost everything, including the climate controls. It’s responsive and powered by Google, but takes time to figure out where various settings are.
The real party piece is the optional Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which boasts a farcical 15-speakers and 1100-watt performance. The Harman/Kardon system is a tad less expensive and we did enjoy it in the XC40 Recharge.
Trust us though when we say the B&W is worth it. Besides, in addition to your usual equaliser tools, the system has various acoustics settings, including one to mimic the Gothenburg Concert Hall.
If we had to fault the interior, the ambient lighting felt more like an afterthought. You can select from a handful of colours, and a few roof lights project down onto the surfaces below. While that’s clever, the lights in the door bins remain a dim, boring, white.
The plastic shortcut buttons for the steering wheel and infotainment felt downright cheap too (and yes, we are really nit-picking here). All that aside, with generous legroom and headroom, the rear seats are spacious enough for most adults.
In the back, you will find ISOFIX anchor points to mount a child seat, as well as a display for the climate controls. This practicality extends to the boot, where a reasonable 442-litres of storage space are at your disposal.
Saying this car meets the requirements for a 5-star ANCAP safety rating underdoes just how much effort Volvo puts into safety and driver aids, including a surround view camera, adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist and blind spot monitoring.
Their systems are world class and certainly contribute to the driving experience. On the road, the S60 is nothing short of a masterpiece. The 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine delivers a silky-smooth 183kW and 350Nm to all four wheels, and it’s a beautiful thing.
Allowing for fierce acceleration in the wet without loss of grip, the Volvo is a real treat to drive. The engine isn’t what we would call a ‘screamer’ though, and once you realise the suspension wafts over imperfections, it becomes clear that the S60 is a luxury cruiser.
Despite a weighted steering feel and Sport mode, the S60 is not as athletic as its German brethren, and you certainly feel the 1849kg weight of the car in the bends, particularly on winding country roads.
That said, the sheer grip and 0-100km/h time of 6.5 seconds was enough to keep us entertained. The real trick here is the 48V mild-hybrid system, which makes the start-stop process seamless.
The engine shuts off when the car is stationary at a light, as usual. However, once the light turns green, the hybrid system gets the car moving before the engine kicks in again. The S60 isn’t a full-fledged hybrid though, so fuel economy is a combined 7.2-litres/100km.
The 2022 Volvo S60 B5 Inscription kicks off at $62,490 plus on-roads, but our specced up test vehicle sat at $74,190. While that may sound like quite the jump, this decked-out Volvo still undercuts the starting prices for its direct BMW and Mercedes-Benz competitors.
In reality, it’s closest rival would be the all-wheel-drive Audi A4 45 TFSI, which starts at $72,496. Nemeses aside, the posh cabin and elegant driving dynamics ensure the 2022 Volvo S60 B5 Inscription is distinctive, and genuinely charming.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volvo Australia. To find out more about the 2022 Volvo S60 B5 Inscription, contact your local Volvo dealer.