DON’T be fooled by the conservative looks of the T8 version of Volvo’s S60 saloon.

The design may not scream “catch me if you can”, but beneath the clean lines of this Scandinavian newcomer is a serious piece of performance engineering.

Those performance and handling upgrades add up to the fastest-accelerating production Volvo car ever.

The T8 twin engine plug-in hybrid powertrain has a total power output of 390hp. And you can add another 15hp if you go for the Polestar engineered version.

But this is a thoroughly modern version of performance motoring. So alongside a breathtaking 0 to 62mph sprint time of 4.6 seconds it is also capable of making a daily commute of about 30 miles without using a drop of petrol.

That’s because you can choose to drive in a pure electric mode of allow the system to decide whether the powertrain is best served by a mix of electric or petrol power. And when the mood or circumstances take you, switch to the dynamic mode for acceleration never before seen in a Volvo.

However, let’s get one thing clear. This is not a sports saloon as such. It is a mighty fine executive saloon with extraordinary capability. Yes, there’s a fun element, and there’s an environmentally friendly element too – the CO2 emissions figure is a remarkable 39g/km - but the sum of its parts is that this is very much a car of today built on a chassis to handle performance motoring.

The new S60 is not only the first Volvo ever to be sold without a diesel unit – signalling the company’s commitment to electrification and a long-term future beyond the traditional combustion engine – it is also the first Volvo model to be built in the USA.

Determined to disrupt a sector for so long dominated by the 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes Benz C-Class, Volvo boasts that this is its most dynamic car ever to drive and it has matched this to a technology fest, the expected class-leading safety features and classy Scandinavian design.

It was launched initially with only one engine and trim choice – an R-Design Edition powered by a 250bhp 2.0-litre T5 petrol that scoots from 0 to 62mph in an impressive 6.5 seconds. That will suffice for most buyers.

There’s no manual transmission, and with good reason. Instead, you get an eight-speed automatic gearbox good enough to make you wonder why you would ever want to play around with a gearstick, plus the various driving modes.

Built on Volvo’s SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform, which also underpins the S90, V60, V90, XC60 and XC90, the four-door S60 comes with a trademark suite of collision-avoidance and occupant-protection systems.

Away from the exceptional attention to safety, Volvo has also applied some eye-catching details to the clean Scandinavian lines.

From its distinctive headlights with their T-shaped daytime running lights and indicators to the tail-lights that help emphasise the car’s powerful rear haunches, the S60 looks modern and powerful.

The S60 is just as elegant on the inside. It has the same Sensus touchscreen control system as Volvo’s other new models, which allows the cabin to be virtually free of buttons and switches.

Interior highlights include a 12.3-inch active digital driver’s information display, voice-activated control system, Sensus nine-inch touchscreen, dual-zone climate control and a top-notch audio system with ten speakers.

Every S60 is powered by a version of Volvo’s own 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E petrol unit. These all-aluminium engines are designed and built by Volvo. Petrol versions are front-wheel drive, whereas the hybrids are all-wheel drive.

The S60 has double wishbone front suspension and an integral link rear axle. It offers dynamic yet predictable handling and a smooth if firm ride.

The lowdown:

Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine AWD R-Design Plus

Price: £54,974

Engine: 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged petrol with plugin electric hybrid system that produces 390 bhp

Transmission: Eight-speed automatic driving all wheels

Performance: 0 to 62mph in 4.6 seconds; top speed 155mph

Economy: 122.8 to 176.5mpg

CO2 emissions: 39g/km

Star ratings:

Performance: ****

Economy: ****

Ride/Handling: ****

Space/Practicality: ****

Equipment: *****

Security/Safety: *****

Value For Money: ***