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Dances with Volvos

The all-new Volvo S60 sedan is a car with the sporty enjoyment of a BMW, as well as ride quality that trumps an Audi.

He is the head-down boss of chassis and suspension development at the Swedish maker, but it's his flair and commitment to driving enjoyment which have just made a fundamental change to the safety-first brand.

The all-new Volvo S60 sedan is a car with the sporty enjoyment of a BMW, as well as ride quality that trumps an Audi. It even comes with a Momo-style sporty wheel, instead of something which feels like it belongs in a Volvo bus.

So, how does he do it? Firstly, he has backing from senior management to create cars which sell on more than safety. Secondly, he has the engineering brain and experience to do the job right. Thirdly, he has a suspension team who are better than anyone knew on stuff like the black-art work of shock absorbers, springs, bushes and even the basic chassis design. Thirdly, he cannot help himself.

Sallqvist has a wicked sense of humour, rides motocross bikes for fun, and has a bunch of Aussie mates. Then again, he is scared of spiders and snakes, something he realised when he was riding in Australia a while back. "When I was trail riding near Noosa I fell off and the bike went into these bushes. I made someone else pull it out because I was scared of being bitten," Sallqvist laughs.

Volvo is doing more and more tuning work on its cars but Sallqvist does not believe in all-out laps at the Nurburgring. Instead, he sends his team to a bunch of B-road twists and turns in Britain, where the bumps and lumps also create unique suspension challenges. "These are the old Roman roads. Some of them have not been re-surfaced in many, many years. They are very tough," he says.

He is not a fan, either, of high-tech electronic suspension systems, even though Volvo has them - and driver-adjustable steering loading - in its cars. "You have to get the basics right. You cannot mask things with electronics," he says.

The S60 shows what Sallqvist and his team can do and he promises more in the future. He has already done a job on the baby Volvo C30, promising it now has the suspension tweaking to match sporty its looks.

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