MOTORING man Les Oliver puts the Volvo S60 D3R-Design Stop/Start through its paces.
IT felt like I was driving with the mother-in-law, my old head teacher and my first boss all rolled into one.
The S60 was packed with so much safety gear it constantly nagged me for every little fault.
A warning chimed. “Driver Alert – Time For A Break” appeared in the dash with a steaming cup of coffee symbol.
That meant driving inconsistently, according to the handbook. All over the road, my dear ma-in-law would have said.
Then it started nagging again - a rhythmic beeping like an irritated finger drummer if you just happen to stray across the white lines without indicating first.
So I just had to shape up and get my act together.
Soon I was driving like a pro and began to appreciate the features of this fantastically safe vehicle.
My wife was irked by an orange light that kept popping on and off near the door mirrors.
But I thought the blind spot indicator was great – alerting me to vehicles about to overtake.
The safety features were second to none. One day in the city centre I turned a corner at a fairly slow speed to see a man in the middle of the road.
There was no danger of hitting him and he just jogged to the pavement, but the car’s pedestrian alert system went off like a xylophonist’s apprentice.
The car’s safety systems immediately boosts braking efficiency and if the risk had been more serious it would have automatically applied the brakes if I didn’t react in time.
Ok, so some of these features are pricey optional extras but, pound for pound, I’d rather have them than a hole in the roof or a throbbing mobile disco.
I may be getting on a bit but my son prefers the audio system which he reckons is superb and I have to admit the iPod sounded good.
He also liked the glass power sunroof.
But a great device called “city safety” is standard. The Volvo automatically brakes if the car in front suddenly slows down and you don’t react quickly enough.
This operates at slow speeds where the majority of accidents occur. In town driving it can bring the car to a standstill to prevent a shunt.
Looking like a coupe, the S60 is one of the best four-door saloons on the road. From a range of petrol and diesels I was driving the two-litre D3 diesel with Geartronic automatic transmission.
With 163bhp this gives a slightly lower top speed than the manual but the same acceleration (0-62mph - 8.7seconds).
It also emits more CO2 and less economical – the official combined fuel figure is 48.7mpg but according to the trip computer I averaged only 39.8even with stop/start technology after a week which included a drive from Sunderland to the south coast.
With R-Design spec it’s got an exterior styling kit and a quality racetrack-inspired interior including a chunky three-spoke steering wheel and sculpted sports seats with extra side support as standard.
A seven-inch colour screen in the centre of the dash displays all the satnav, audio, phone and reversing/panorama camera functions and is situated high enough so you can keep your eyes on the road.
Driving the S60 was very enjoyable. It’s quiet, takes bends safely and holds the road well with advanced stability and corner traction control.
From a practical viewpoint, the boot isn’t the largest in its class, but the rear seatbacks can be conveniently dropped down from inside or outside the car to carry larger items.
Volvo S60 D3R-Design Stop/Start
Engine: 2-litre diesel
Top speed: 134mph
Price: from £27,400