I’m rolling down the road in the calmest way possible. It is not just because the road is clear of traffic or that the tarmac has gentle curves; no. The reason is this car, the Volvo S60, still feels like one of the poshest front-wheel wheel drive cars ever produced. Relaxed and composed, I’m not the least bit compelled to give the engine the full beans.
The mill is a T5, which is a step down from the T6 but larger than the T4; if you are not up to speed on Volvo’s nomenclature. It means that the Volvo S60 T5 is powered by a 2.0-litre inline-four that gives 240hp and 320Nm of torque.
Yes, it is powerful for a non-massaged, hotted-up engine. A small engine also gives a smallish economy – 8.3l/100km. A six-speed Powershift – a dual-clutch gearbox – is charged with transferring power to the front wheels.
When urged forward with extreme prejudice, the S60 will respond with a 7.5-second 0-100kph time. That’s very respectable, in spite of it managing to feel heavy getting off the starting line. But it does get up to speed quickly, much like how a boulder starts slow then gets faster as it accumulates with momentum. The S60 is like that and will hit a top speed of 230kph in short order.
You won’t feel it going fast. The NVH has been booted up by many levels till the only thing that hints of speed is the rumble of the steering, the speedometer and the constant blur you see on the other side of the glass.
The S60 truly settles around 130kph, where the car seems most at ease with itself. Ride is supple enough to take in the road and firm enough to make the car stable, giving you plenty of on-the-road confidence.
Handling is actually quite good that it has plenty of grip, obediently adjustable and quick to respond, especially when you’re traversing the B-roads. Long flowing curves can be taken without dropping any speed and the steering provides enough chatter. Apart from that, you’ll pretty much be left alone, to your thoughts, your music and your passengers.
And, it is a fine interior that you’ll be spending time in. Leather upholstery, soft seats and air-conditioning vents on the B-pillar for the rear adds more comfort. The interior is also generously spaced allowing for good elbow and knee room, as well as good ventilation. Cozy would be a good word to describe the interior’s ambience. Which really does not compel me to drive it as if its tail is on fire!
Right now, I have the choice of keeping my foot on the pedal or let the car take over. The smarter-than-average computer system lets you set your speed and the distance you want to keep from the car in front. The system knows when to apply the brakes and will do so till you come to a complete stop.
It still needs your hands to be on the wheel and eyes on the road, the human factor is still very much important and the world is still some ways away from a fully automated car. Right, Adaptive Cruise Control with Queue Assist and Distance Alert switched on.
Eventually, I reach a busy city with appropriately lethargic traffic made up mostly of weekend shoppers. There are more than a few things going on outside that needs more than just a pair of eyes to see. The S60 comes with a gamut of sensors that tells you of objects in your blind spot or if you’re about to hit something you shouldn’t, like a bag of walking flesh for instance.
It also works with pesky scooters that suddenly decide to jump into your path. This causes the S60 to automatically hit the brakes hard, thus avoiding an accident altogether. Insert expletives as required.
Safety, then, is still an important piece of the Volvo jigsaw and it is good that they have sensors that look out for people and things outside of the car. The reduced chances of damaging the bodywork – of the human, not the car, of course – is also a good thing, especially for the wallet.
Brilliant then the S60 has become. If you stack the various German contenders against this Swede, you’ll find that the Volvo can do more than hold its ground. With the amount of tech and interior plush at its disposal, anyone will be hard pressed to strike out this latest S60.