Chasing the BMW 3 series

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Chasing the BMW 3 series

Volvo is reluctant to say the S60 will give the BMW 3 Series a run for its money as a drivers' car, but that's the implication from the focus on sporty styling and dynamics.

It's certainly a sharper-looking car than the BMW, hiding its longer front overhang well unless viewed from fully side-on, and its new electronic driver aids (torque vectoring and advanced stability control) are there to help disguise that most S60s will be driven through the front wheels while the 3 Series is rear-drive.

The BMW has a more even weight distribution as a result.

Much will depend on how successful Volvo's UK suspension tuning and the steering revisions turn out to be, and whether potential buyers can be convinced that a Swedish leopard really is capable of changing its spots.

The Swedes will then have to match BMW's strong used values to keep leasing costs low, and price the S60 so that company car tax bills are close to the 3's. That will be a tall order. All four-cylinder 3 Series models have BMW's Efficient Dynamics CO2-cutting measures while only one S60, the DRIVe, will initially employ similar technology.