THE renaissance began with new design strategies.
Safety remained front of mind for Volvo, but now it comes dressed in sexy attire. And just to complete the revolution a performance arm is putting the Swedish car on the motorsport map.
Volvo will enter the V8 Supercars series next year with the Polestar S60 just to prove there is another string to the carmaker's bow.
While the bent eight derivative has stolen the spotlight of late, we jumped at the opportunity to revisit the V6 version of the sleek sedan.
This brilliant looking piece of gear now looks like a bargain at about $75 grand compared to its V8 sibling which starts from more than $100,000.
But there could be some even better offers around. The S60 has just been refreshed with a new look front end...so these "old" MY13 variants may well be ripe for the picking.
Cosseted in soft plush leather, passengers front and back will appreciate the S60's salubrious environment.
The driver has electronic seating control and telescopic adjustment of the leather-clad steering wheel, which feels great in your hands and has you hankering to rip into some bends.
Simple and clear, the driver's view does not cause dazzling confusion with an array of dials or buttons. Within the instrument binnacle is the speedometer and tacho, with digital information housed inside each gauge.
Finding your way through the menus on the colour screen and operating the sat nav takes a little more attention but once you have found your way through the system a couple of times it is fast and easy to use.
There are wide and varied rivals, and among them from the prestige genre are the new Lexus IS350 Sports Luxury ($84,000), BMW 335i ($91,045), Audi A4 3.0 TFSI Quattro ($92,900) and the Mercedes-Benz C300 Avantgarde ($86,400).
On the road
Launch the turbocharged six and it's accompanied by a healthy growl along with a muscular shunt.
The sprint time of 0-100kmh of 6.1 seconds is testament to its abilities and the S60 feels every bit the sporting package.
Steering is too light on occasions, although as an all-round package the driving is experience is hard to fault.
Strangely there are no paddle shifters for manual control with the automatic box, yet throw the transmission into Sport mode and the self-shifter does a handy job of finding the perfect cog.
Partnered with a sports chassis the S60 can salsa its way around testing bends or just cruise with easy use of the throttle for a smooth ride.
Given the performance suspension things can be firm over ruts and sharp bumps but it's a transgression we could live with.
What do you get?
Being the R-Design derivative this gets all the nice gear.
Among the standout features are a 12-speaker stereo which can play DVDs and MP3s, 17.7cm colour screen, sat nav, Bluetooth phone and audio connectivity, front and rear parking sensors, cruise control, dual zone climate control and 18-inch five-spoke alloys.
Plus there's an array of safety gear standard, like blind spot warning, radar cruise control, and a collision warning system which can automatically apply the brakes if required. While all S60s come with a "goop" tyre repair kit, ours also had a space saver spare complete with its own bag inside the boot. It took up reasonable space and would probably only be used on long trips - which is usually also when you need the boot room.
Four adults can ride in comfort with air vents in the rear and reasonable head, leg and knee room. Three across the bench seat can be done but would be a tight fit.
There are two spots for cups and bottles in the centre console, along with additional allocations in the doors. The S60 also has a good storage spot for phones and other gadgets behind the dash fascia.
Boot space can easily swallow the family's weekly grocery shop and by pulling the levers the rear seat-backs fold in a 60-40 configuration.
Being a turbocharged six you do pay more at the bowser.
Averaging more than 10 litres for every 100km, it doesn't mind a drink. It's not bad for a six, just that turbo fours and diesels with good performance have made us more accustomed to lower figures.
Insurance can be discounted by some companies for the safety equipment, such as the City Safety automated braking function. It would be worth getting some quotes.
With dual exhaust pipes, slick alloys and a body kit, the S60 R-Design is a true standout in this segment. We love the styling with performance to match the sleek skin.
What matters most
The good stuff: Impressive acceleration prowess, interior design, stylish exterior features, good value up against the European big guns.
What we'd like to see: Better space saver spare storage, steering wheel mounted paddles would be a nice addition.
Warranty and servicing: Three year/unlimited kilometres, with roadside assist. Servicing is annual or every 15,000km.
Model: Volvo S60 T6 R-Design.
Details: Four-door all-wheel drive luxury sedan.
Engine: 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder generating maximum power of 224kW @ 6500rpm and peak torque of 440Nm @ 2100-4200rpm.
Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sports mode.
Consumption: 10.2 litres/100km.
Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.1 seconds; top speed 250kmh.
Bottom line: $75,490.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.