Sporty Volvo S60 packs a punch
Older readers might recall that in the 1990s, a Tsim Sha Tsui East nightspot hit on what it thought would be a swish name for itself. A certain Swedish carmaker subsequently raised strenuous objections, and 'Club Volvo' found itself in the tricky situation of having to change its name fairly swiftly.
Older readers will also recall the classic Volvo persona - a car that just looked squarely solid and reliable, and drove in a similar fashion. I was expecting something similar while walking along to rendezvous with the Volvo S60, and almost walked straight past the sleek machine that hovered by the pavement.
If the exterior is a surprise, the inside - and that, of course, includes what lies beneath the bonnet - is a revelation. Or perhaps not. The S60 embraces all that is legendary about Volvo, but adds a powerful modern sporty punch, the sort of comfort that you are barely aware of, and the array of gizmos that are standard with top-of-the-range cars nowadays and a joy to play around with.
Deciding to give the S60 a full and proper workout, I headed for one of the most northerly points in Hong Kong. Single-track roads are a rarity in Hong Kong, and those with a steep gradient and sharp turns even fewer.
As the Western Harbour Tunnel, Sha Tin and Fanling flashed by, the 2,953cc engine was barely whispering and the six-speed Geartronic transmission clicked through the changes as smooth as silk.
Away from the main road, and in sight of the mainland, the car fairly leapt uphill, cornering brilliantly. It was a delight to drive.
Part of the great ease and pleasure of driving the S60 is being able to get comfortable. The driver's seat incorporates a memory function that stores three separate seat and door mirror settings connected to a specific remote control.
Perfect if you, your spouse and your chauffeur come from very different gene pools.
Hit reverse and the door mirror on the passenger side tilts automatically to make parking that bit easier. And just to touch on safety for a moment, a whiplash protection system, going by the slightly unusual acronym of Whips, springs into action should another driver take his eye off the road and rear-ends you.
By the same token, both front and sides are designed to absorb impact, so in effect the car acts as a cradle.
Sensible thinking on the part of the designers, who've also put together a set of child seats. Just because a car looks, feels and acts sporty, doesn't mean to say the whole family can't also join in the fun.
The final piece of good news is that until the end of September the pre-order price stays at HK$499,000.
There's the usual raft of optional extras, but even without them, the S60 packs in a huge amount of entertainment.