Buy a Volvo S60 – partly because it is that little bit different to the German rivals


There’s a nice man from Volvo about to collect the S60. I’ve been driving it rather harshly but this everyday Swedish saloon is still managing 40+ mpg – amazing.

I’m sure you could tickle 60mpg out of the D3 model will a little less right foot but the S60 feels so ‘together’ I’ve been encouraged to make serious progress around the Cotswolds today.

I guess I’d by lying to say the Volvo is exciting but that doesn’t mean you can’t fling it around with abandon.

Buy one for superb safety features, strong engines, a classy interior, plus the fact it isn’t German.

Don’t buy one if you want to turn heads.

People in Finland wouldn’t know what to do with a sunroof in a Volvo


For an engine with such modest output the D3 five cylinder in the S60 has plenty of get up and go.

Don’t expect anything approaching exciting but I can say there’s enough grunt from the diesel to serve up the promise of fun on the weekend open road.

There’s plenty of grip and body roll is minimum – the Volvo isn’t going to serve up any unwanted surprises.

Today’s excitement in the S60? I’m going to open the sunroof for my friend Vesa in Finland. He doesn’t get to see the sun much up there and a sunroof would totally freak hum out!


The unremarkable Volvo S60 that does it all…


I can’t deny it – writing about the S60 is more time-consuming than I thought. The problem is that Volvo’s mid-size family saloon has nothing remarkable to recommend it.

And I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s just that this is a good, honest car that doesn’t try to be anything else but well, normal.

There are times when driving all manner of exotica can be tiresome. Honestly, you just want to drive something straightforward. A no nonsense car that doesn’t anything about the type of person other drivers might think you are.

That is the Volvo S60. It’s the sort of car that celebs would buy, just to blend in with the crowd and not get recognized. Not a problem I have but you get the picture.

And for that reason alone I like it. It’s the Swedish equivalent of the VW Golf, the BMW 3 Series, the Land Rover Discovery – the great benchmark models of our time.

Safe as houses in a Volvo S60? Quite possibly…


It’s kind of odd talking to Scandinavians about Volvo. While we in the UK see the brand as ever so slightly niche, it’s as common as Ford over there.

And if you have driven on Scandinavian roads you might understand why. In the winter, especially, the highways become ever so slightly tricky! No wonder they insist on special winter tyres for six months of the year.

Which makes it all the more clear why the S60 like all Volvos comes with a high standard of safety equipment.

Six airbags are standard, as is the City Safe System, that which can stop the car automatically, if it detects objects in front of the vehicle and prevents a low speed impact.

Our S60 is also fitted with Pedestrian Detection System that can spot a person in the road, plus lane departure warning.

No wonder the Swedes feel safe in their Volvos…

The Volvo S60 is due a nose job in 2016 even though it looks great as it is


I’m not sure at what stage in our lives we go for the facelift option but in motoring it’s usually around five years.

The S60 was launched in 2010, had botox in 2013 and will get a full-on nose job in 2016 – so that it marries up with the rest of the all-new Volvo range.

Personally, I think it looks perfectly fine as is. It’s much prettier than the Audi A4, or the BMW 3 Series. Although the driving experience doesn’t match either of the German rivals.

I don’t think many people would pick it over the Jaguar XE but  don’t let that put you off. The Swedes had built a great car here, especially if safety is top of your priority list…

The Volvo S60 has lots going for it – not least it isn’t German


Let’s get this straight from the start. Nobody is going to hold their hand up in excitement and extol the virtues of owning a Volvo S60.

This is not a saloon that shouts performance or couture styling – it’s the type of car you could easily park in long-term at Heathrow for a month and forget where you left it.

But don’t be put off because the S60 has plenty going for it. Not least – it isn’t German and owners enjoy the cache of driving something that little bit different.

It is also beautifully bolted together, packs a premium cabin and, of course, being a Volvo, it is loaded to the roof with ingenuous safety features.

A hundred miles into driving the D3 model and, wearing my sensible 9 to 5, ‘must save for my pension’ hat, it’s actually a fine car.

I’m not bored yet and I would have been in an Audi A4. More tomorrow…

The Mazda MX-5 is still the most fun you can have with your top down


The little white MX-5 is frozen solid this morning – ironic as I’m about to fly to sunny Oman for an adventure with Harley-Davidson.

I did manage to drop the hood yesterday for the first time. It’s joyously simple to use, even though the operation is manual. This saves weight and is faster than a powered hood.

I may be a gentleman of a certain age now but I can’t imagine living with the Mazda on a year-round basis, as good as it is.

That said, there really is nothing out there for £20k that comes anywhere near the MX-5 package.

A folding hard-top version will surely come soon – and then there’s the Fiat sister model coming next year.

For now,the Mazda is still the most fun you can have with your top down . Period.

The Mazda MX-5 is by far the best value convertible out there…


It can’t be easy re-designing the world’s best-selling roadster but Mazda has done an incredible job.

And they have managed it without the use of a turbo, which is key to the two-seaters charm and appeal. You have to really ‘drive’ the MX-5 to enjoy it most.

That little four-cylinder engine works so sweetly with the six-speed gearbox you wonder why anybody would consider anything else. Well, anybody who actually enjoys using a manual gearbox and clipping the apex of a bend.

Perhaps what’s most incredible about this new model is the fact it’s 100kg lighter than the old one. Fitted with either the torquey 1.5-litre or 2.0-litre engines, it’s the best value convertible out there…

Fiat and Mazda will go head to head in 2017 for the battle of the roadsters


Fiat will bring out their own two-seater convertible next year based on the same platform as the MX-5.

The 124 Spider harks back to the 1970s and, perhaps for the first time, Mazda will have some serious competition in this sector of the market.

Personally, I prefer the looks of the Fiat – although much of the rest of the two cars is the same.

The MX-5 has long been regarded as the MGB of the new millennium. Amazingly, it serves up more passion and soul than the brilliant Porsche Boxster.

And it will cost you about half of the price too…

The Mazda MX-5 is a second car for the winter months and a must for the summer


So, here’s the thing. The problem with anticipating a car bestowed with greatness is that you expect perfection. Something to be wary of in this job.

There’s no doubt that on a sunny day in July, top down and with an English country road winding ahead, the MX-5 is just about the perfect car.

Power from the 2.0 model doesn’t intimidate, it handles brilliantly and the driving position is absolutely bang on. What’s not to like?

However, if you are considering the Mazda as an everyday, all year round two-seater, just remember space is as a premium, it’s noisy on the motorway and anyone over 6ft tall is going to struggle.

The MX-5 makes me smile even on a wild Monday morning in February. But realistically it’s a second car for the winter months and a ‘must have’ for the summer.