Volvo is a brand on form, and the form factor of its latest range is – in our opinion – the main reason behind the carmaker’s recent success. The XC90 and S90/V90 family of large cars kickstarted the design renaissance, followed by the chic XC40 SUV. This momentum will be sustained by the S60 premium compact sedan, which is set to arrive in Malaysia in the final quarter of 2019.

The third-generation midsize sedan by the Swedish brand was unveiled in June 2018 – it’s the first Volvo to be made in the United States and global distribution will begin in Q2 this year. Malaysia is Volvo’s regional assembly hub, and the S60 will eventually roll off the Shah Alam plant for domestic consumption and exports to Thailand. Early batches could be CBU imports, something not unusual for Volvo Car Malaysia (VCM).

The international press drive event that happened in California late last year had two variants of the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class-rivalling sedan on the platter – the S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered and the S60 T6 AWD R-Design.

It’s early days and local variants have yet to be confirmed, but we’re not expecting the Polestar-tweaked car – stuffed to the gills with branded kit such as Ohlins adjustable suspension and Brembo six-pot brakes – to reach Malaysia as it will be prohibitively expensive. Besides, the 405 hp/670 Nm plug-in hybrid is also produced in limited numbers.

The T6 AWD is more likely. The most powerful non-PHEV variant is motivated by a 2.0 litre four-cylinder Drive-E engine, which is under the hood of all S60s. In T6 guise, it gets a turbocharger and supercharger to make 310 hp and 400 Nm of torque. The twincharged engine is mated to an Aisin-made eight-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

When local assembly starts, it’s reasonable to expect a CKD T5 with 254 hp/350 Nm (FWD, just turbo) and (non-Polestar) Twin Engine plug-in hybrid variants – the latter will be dependent on CKD PHEV incentives by the government, of course.

As usual, base Momentum, luxury Inscription and sporty R-Design trim levels will be available globally, but expect VCM to champion the latter for its most sporting model. It’s part of a wider trend in the premium segment – see the popularity of M Sport and AMG Line in otherwise far from sporting variants.

The vital stats all look good, but the new S60’s trump card – for me at least – is the way it looks. Which is fantastic. I’m no Volvo fanboy, and my preference for premium sedans skews towards understated handsomeness (the B9 Audi A4 and B8 Volkswagen Passat happen to be from the same clan), but the S60 could very well be the perfect blend of eye-catching and class.

Design wise, there’s more going on here than in the S90, and while instantly recognisable as the smaller sibling, the S60’s body sports plenty of touches to make it look more dynamic – a scaled down S90 it’s definitely not.

A few of those moves – such as the gentle curve of the rear haunches, the faster roofline and the moving up of the rear license plate – are obvious, but there are plenty more subtle yet effective touches. The sport message is further amplified by the R-Design body standard on the T6 AWD and T8 Polestar Engineered, but it’s never OTT.

These are all explained in detail by Lisa Reeves from the S60 design team. In the walk-around video above, Reeves talks about the new sedan’s proportions (longer, lower and wider; front wheels pushed forward, longer rear overhang) and points out the S60’s “athlete” cues and differences to the S90. The Brit designer also introduces us to the finer points of the S60’s clean and classy cabin, which she personally worked on.

The hardware is good, but it’s just so easy on the eye, this new S60. If all goes to plan, it’ll be coming to Malaysia in Q4 2019. Stay tuned.

GALLERY: Volvo S60 T6 AWD R-Design


GALLERY: Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered