We all know that people over 30 sound stupid when they utter this ever-popular word for describing something that radiates awesomeness without really trying too hard.
With that in mind, allow me to get a few things off my chest: rock music is cool, the movie Fight Club is cooler, but there’s nothing cooler than a blood-red Volvo. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Like any Hollywood bombshell in her 30s, they all look good draped in a red hue.
A lot of this characteristic coolness is down to Volvo’s design language, its reputation for safety and the fact that the company is Swedish. That last point may not mean much to you, but how can you not love the country that gave the world flat-pack furniture, safety matches, dynamite, flat-screen televisions, Koenigsegg and Skype?
The facelifted Volvo 60 range (XC60, S60 and V60) may not be as revolutionary as the above-mentioned inventions, but it certainly has that inherent Swedish coolness about it. The exterior upgrades aren’t easy to spot at first, but once you look closer, you notice the new headlamps and altered body panels that are meant to give it a dynamic stance, even when they’re stationary. The window washers were also moved into a new spot underneath the hood, so as not to spoil the elegant lines of the vehicle. That’s the kind of pedantic behaviour I really approve of.
The engines are carried over from the pre-facelift models and consist of both petrol and diesel powertrains. The top-of-the-line powertrain on all three models is the muscular T6 petrol with 224kW and 440Nm of tap. Its power is delivered via a six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission and Volvo claims a combined consumption of 9.9 litres/100km.
There is also a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol available in T3 (110kW), T4 (132kW) and T5 (177kW) guises. Fuel consumption decreases considerably on the less powerful models, with a claimed figure of 6.8 litres/100km on the T3 and T4. All of these engines are available in the S60 and V60, but the XC is only available in T5 specification.
Two diesel engines are available across the range. The five-cylinder D5 turbodiesel has 158kW and 440Nm of torque. With an automatic gearbox, Volvo claims a fuel consumption of 5.9 litres/100km. The automatic D4 powertrain with 120kW on tap claims an impressive 4.8 litres/100km fuel consumption, which drops down to 4.3 litres/100km if you specify it with a manual transmission.
The wide selection of powertrains work very well in whichever model strikes your fancy. The S60 and V60 are extremely comfortable and dynamically capable, while the XC60 ticks all the right boxes in the luxury SUV segment.
Interior-wise, the 60 series is more or less the same as the model it replaces, but some of the impressive features found on the V40 have found a new home in the 60. The adaptive digital display is a particular highlight, as it allows the driver to choose the graphic theme in which the most important information is displayed behind the steering wheel.
A new enhanced Bluetooth system with music streaming is also included across the range and the upgraded ambient-lighting feature adds a distinct luxury feel. Overall, the interior of all three 60 models is still a lovely place to spend time.
The most impressive attribute of these cars, as has always been the case with Volvo, is the safety technology included as standard across the range. I’ve said it before with the V40 (the donor car for much of the safety tech on the new 60) and I’ll say it again: the amount of carnage on South African roads makes the V40 and 60 models significant contenders in their segments. The list includes the obligatory safety kit, with a decent helping of next-level technology, which includes - among others - the new Pedestrian and Cyclist detection (where the car can apply full braking power if a crash with a cyclist is imminent), Cross traffic alert (which alerts the driver to vehicles approaching from either side when reversing out of a parking space), Queue Assist (which maintains the set gap all the way down to standstill), enhanced City Safety and blind-spot information systems and Driver Alert Control.
The 60 range isn’t the obvious cars to go for in this segment, but I think that’s what really makes it special. It’s aimed at the select few who can appreciate quality engineering packaged in an unassuming, yet beautiful body. It’s not mainstream and I love that about it.
If red isn’t your colour though, don’t worry. Volvo has a nice selection of others as well. Me? I’ll take a red S60 T6, thank you very much.