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Operating previous Volvo entertainment and navigation systems was akin to performing open heart surgery at the bottom of the ocean with one arm tied behind your back. The new Sensus system thankfully saves us from having to make any more tortured analogies.
Currently available on theand the , Sensus will be rolled out across other models in Volvo's range as they're refreshed and updated.
As one would expect, specifics for the Sensus system vary depending on the car's specifications. For example, the video playback and navigation features described below are only available on models equipped with a 7-inch high-res screen. A 5-inch screen is standard on the S60/V60, while the 7-inch screen is standard on the T6, and is an AU$1425 or AU$2400 option throughout the rest of the S60/V60 range.
This review is based on our time with the system on the.
The top shelf S60 T6 comes fitted with a high-resolution 7-inch screen high on a dashboard recess. The menu system can be operated by either a knob on the right of the dashboard or controls on the steering wheel's right spoke.
Using the knob is compromised by its uncomfortable position midway up the dash on the right, and it's all too easy to confuse the OK/Menu and Exit buttons located in the centre of the dial. We found the scroll wheel and series of buttons on the steering wheel much more convenient to use, but as there's neither a home menu nor a Mode button, switching between inputs and functions requires a stab at the Nav, Radio, Media, Tel, My Car and Cam buttons on the dash.
The menu design is pleasingly modern, and for the most part is logically laid out. There are, however, a few features that aren't completely intuitive.
For instance, when you're listening to some music from an iPod or a USB stick, it's not at all clear how you go about changing the album or folder. To do that, you need to scroll up or down to see the track list and then hit Exit to view the preceding folder or album. Incidentally, hitting the Media button doesn't bring you automatically to the device you're currently listening to; you have to reselect it every time.
When you're on the navigation map, by default there are handy bars across the top (track info) and bottom (climate control). If they disappear, it's probably because you've pressed Nav one time too many. To bring back the info bars, just press the button again.
Another good thing to remember is that the T9 number pad on the dashboard serves not only as a way to dial numbers, but also as a way of entering nav destinations or searching through a phonebook; it's certainly quicker than using the onscreen rotary letter selector.
From the My Car menu, an owner can configure various car options, including the S60's various safety features, whether the wing mirrors dip when reversing and how long the interior and exterior lights stay on after you leave the car.
Across the S60/V60 range, entertainment options include Bluetooth for both music streaming and hands-free telephony, an iPod/iPhone-compatible USB port, auxiliary jack, AM/FM analog radio and a disc slot. A 7-inch screen is in lieu of the standard 5-inch unit; DVD and DivX playback and navigation are optional on the T5 and D5, and standard on the T6.