Ian Lamming sees the light thanks to Volvo’s new S60.
SO THAT’S that; the diesel engine is no more. The talking is over, the debate is tied up, the agony is complete.
I’ve been dithering for a while but, like the rest of the particulate-conscious world, have been easing away from the humble diesel as it slips into disgrace and decline.
Today Volvo has hammered another nail into the oil-soaked coffin as it launches the S60 saloon with no diesel in the line-up at all. It’s a momentous occasion signalling the demise of a type of motor that has been powering us for generations.
Volvo says that it will make diesels for as long as customers want them – but how long will that be? And the fact that two of the world’s largest markets, China and America, definitely don’t want them means that future research and development is likely to be uneconomical and therefore unsustainable.
As future models fly out of Volvo’s doors, there is unlikely to be a diesel, instead there will be highly efficient petrol turbos, electrics and twin engine plug-in hybrids.
They are likely to be safer than ever before too thanks to peerless electronic driver aids and a speed limit across the range of 112mph as the aim remains to cut to zero the number of people killed in an accident in a Volvo by the year 2020.
As the world becomes more socially responsible this mindset is winning many friends. For the fifth year running Volvo has secured record sales, 642,253 to be precise including more than 50,000 in the UK, nine per cent up in a market that has shrunk seven per cent, making it the fastest selling premium brand in the country.
It helps no end that the product range is so good and the new S60 is more than happy to follow suit.
As the world continues to chomp its ways through a diet of SUVs it is refreshing to welcome a new car, a saloon. S60 is a timely reminder of the pleasurable dynamics of driving and a pleasant change from the high-seas rolling of off-roaders and their pretenders.
Third generation S60 hits the showrooms in the form of a T5, a 250hp turbo-charged petrol motor, slotted into a very smart R-Design body, with 19in alloys, lowered suspension and a wide, low-slung aggressive body. Thor hammer lights, faired-in exhausts and signature tail-lamps complete the picture and make S60 stand out.
Inside is the now familiar minimalist cockpit with pinchy swipey touchscreen that leaves the dash nicely uncluttered. There is leather and oodles of tech to enjoy while your body is caressed by Nappa leather sports seats and your lugs ring to the excellent 14 speaker Harman Kardon audio-system.
The super-smooth motor offers more than enough thrust for rapid progress as it feeds power through an eight speed auto to the front wheels. It is typically Volvo in the way it consumes miles leaving driver and passengers relaxed and very happy, helped by all manner of technology which watches the world around you – even if you aren’t – and keeps you safe from harm.
There is also plenty of room and the already large boot can be extended into the back seats at the flick of a switch, making the saloon almost hatchback-practical. When the seats are in place passengers are blessed with an exceptional ride.
New tech gives S60 the ability to connect to your digital devices. So you can stick the heating on remotely to thaw it through in the winter or if, like me, you forget where you have parked it, you can attract attention by triggering the lights and hazards.
Chances are you’ll remember. It will be the smart saloon that is standing out from the rest, you know, the one that’s not powered by a diesel.
Volvo S60 R-Design
Engine: 2.0 petrol turbo
0-62mph: 6.5 secs
Top speed: 145mph
Combined MPG: up to 39.8
Transmission: eight speed automatic
CO2 g/km: 155
Price: from £37,935.00