An excellent car for general comfort, handling, safety and reliability which has amply repaid the product research conducted before its purchase. Five other comparable cars were shortlisted, from Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Peugeot and Volkswagen, and I'm convinced the right choice was made.
Power and handling are quite adequate for all normal purposes. This is a true saloon car which will get you there and back in great comfort and with no drama at all; if you want to dice with death or impress your pimply friends, or just risk your licence, go get a fashionable German or Italian car and enrich the insurance company as well!
Superb internal ergonomics -- all's in its proper place, excellent instruments and controls, and magnificent leather seats which only the French makers come near to achieving for support as well as comfort.
Far roomier front and rear than later Volvo models, and more comfortable for long trips -- the Ford influence? This is important in Australian conditions, where driver fatigue kills more than raw speed or recklessness.
Excellent factory sound system is also well tuned to the internal acoustics, but the low-end bass response will not appeal to heavy-metal rock lovers with a mobile-disco fixation.
Capacious trunk which is well insulated against road noise. Plenty of internal storage as well.
The brakes are awesome in their power to stop this solid car without any fade and in a straight line from high speed. High brake-pad wear is a small price to pay for that stopping-power confidence. But then Volvo has always provided the benchmark for active as well as passive safety technology.
The engine note is a purposeful rumble which is comfortingly audible rather than intrusive. Road noise is minimal and wind noise nonexistent. This is no howling banshee, nor a deathly hearse!
Steering is sharp, progressive and very predictable, with the usual amount of torque-steer in front-drive cars. The car handles twisting roads and rough surfaces confidently and well. With a turning radius substantially tighter than in the comparable cars mentioned earlier, parking is straightforward.
Finally, the fit and finish are of a very high standard. The paintwork and underbody rustproofing are exemplary as one would expect from a car designed to survive salty European winter roads.