The compact executive class may appear to be a niche market but it is crammed with classy contenders eager to please discerning business buyers.
Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz are all in the mix, as is Volvo with its elegant and more exclusive Volvo S60.
Volvo, founded in Sweden in 1927, is these days in Chinese ownership but its Scandinavian DNA is still strong, as the S60 demonstrates. Beautifully built and with a high standard of fit-and-finish, the S60 offers comfort, refinement, sporty driving and extensive safety equipment.
Priced from £21,875, the S60 offers petrol and diesel engines and it was the latter fitted in my recent test model, the D3 SE Lux Nav. With auto transmission, this model is £30,895. This two-litre 150 hp unit is quite zesty – 0-60 mph in 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 130 mph. But it is frugal too – 67.3 mpg combined.
Underway, the power is smoothly delivered, the 6-speed auto gearbox is seamless and the steering is sharp and precise with its feedback, so driving is very pleasant.
There is excellent grip on corners and while not perhaps as finely-honed as some German brands when it comes to ride quality, the S60 is fine on smooth surfaces. The ride quality can deteriorate on rougher tarmac or pot-holed lanes. However, it is unbeatable as a refined motorway cruiser.
With sleek coupe-like styling and revised front-end, the Volvo S60 certainly exudes executive appeal, and the cabin impresses too. Its unfussy understated design and clever use of light-coloured trim materials give the interior an elegant ambiance.
Five adults can be accommodated comfortably, and while the 380-litre boot is a tad smaller than in some rivals it will still be perfectly adequate for most buyers,
Standard kit on all Volvo S60 models is generous and includes connected services, sat-nav, colour-screen display, voice control system, dual-zone climate control, rear parking sensors and alloy wheels.
My D3 SE Lux Nav version added much more including audio upgrade, rear camera, park assist, sunroof and even a heated steering wheel. There is also a wealth of safety kit including pedestrian and cyclist detection, blind-spot information and collision warning with auto braking.
FOR: Sleek styling, high equipment levels, refined motorway cruising.
AGAINST: Fidgety ride on rougher surfaces.