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With its top-end and entry-level sedans still fresh out of the bubble wrap, Volvo’s devoting some much-needed attention to the most popular meatball in its Swedish lineup. And in its evolution into the S60, the middle-child S70 isn’t only getting a name change: it’s also getting a sleek set of lines that banish its formerly frumpy look to the bargain bin.

Last week Volvo staged dueling debuts in Manhattan and Stockholm to unveil the S60, and to give us a better idea of what’s going on underneath its new suit. Sizewise, the S60 is just a bit larger than the small but nearly perfectly formed S40, which was introduced late last year. But power-wise, it’s quite a different animal, with five-cylinder engines ranging from 160 to 247 hp, depending on which turbocharger is installed, if any.

The new sedan is aimed squarely at the Lincoln LS, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. It’s actually built on the same platform as the S80 and V70, but is significantly smaller, which gives the new sedan a completely different set of handling characteristics, engineers say. These new road manners are matched to a more slender, muscular exterior design inside and out that’s more than a little reminiscent of the bigger Peugeots.

2001 Volvo S60 2

2001 Volvo S60 2

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Executives from the Swedish automaker wanted a sedan that conjured up the look and feel of a coupe. "With the Volvo S60, we believe we have succeeded in combining the classic elements of Volvo design with a strong sporty influence in a very efficient package," said Volvo's Design Director Peter Horbury. "And on top of all that it is safe, roomy and practical too."

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