Volvo S60 T6 AWD – 2010

Last year’s “Naughty Volvo” campaign that launched the S60 had me dare the Volvo twitter account (@volvocar_SA) to give me car to test out. They did. So we’re off to a good start. So, the 2010 Volvo S60 replaces the previous generation shape to align the all-new XC60 design language with a more aggressive grille. (Think whale shark) It also features revised engines and is built on the XC60 chassis. Full model line for now is a 2.0Turbo, 2.0Diesel, and this, the 3.0turbo All Wheel Drive. Volvo says this new S60 repositions it, as per CEO Stefan Jacoby’s 2010 address at the LA Auto Show, not only in direct competition to the likes of Audi, BMW and Mercedes, but reaffirms the unique Volvo identity. Unfortunately, I think somehow they drank that one by the wayside. Volvo’s were always strange in the way that they never quite had models that directly competed (E.g. Mercedes C-Class vs. BMW 3 Series) and here again. The larger S60 competes against the BMW 3 Series, but where does the S40 fall in then? Confused, yet a nice Volvo quirk. More worryingly, is that this Volvo has a bit of an identity crisis. A high school student that doesn’t know if it wants to be a professional sports star, or follow the grades and be an accountant. The variant I drove was the T6 AWD (3.0turbocharged 224kW 440NM), which is the top of the line model currently available. The campaign positions this S60 as a “naught Volvo” … I know, it’s like a young Cher, but hear me out. This S60 needs to capture the current mid-segment market that is dominated by BMW’s and Audi’s. The Mid 30 exec that still wants something with a badge, performance and a slight sporty appeal. The S60, although qualifying on unique looks, and outright performance (0-100km/h in 6.3sec) makes a good case, it unfortunately leaves some gaps. It has one hell of an engine, with loads of grunt at any speed, and a fantastic AWD system that glues the power delivery to the road. The problem, comes in with the suspension and the gearbox. Volvo has employed the Sports suspension here and it leaves a lot to be desired, as it crashes over bumps (could be the 18inch wheels) and undulations. The gearbox, although great in sport mode, is still a little too tailored too relaxed driving. To ad insult to injury, the seats are supremely comfortable. Problem how? Well if we’re trying to be sporty here, I don’t want to float from door to door as I throw the S60 into corners. So they have ticked some of the boxes, and ticked em good, and then left others in the days of the station wagon Volvo. Don’t get me wrong, it’s an excellent car, I just think it’s trying to juggle too many balls, and dropping some in the process. If you want a sporty car, it’s half way there. If you want a supremely comfortable cruiser, it’s half way there too. There are however some things they got spot on: Safety As with any Volvo, this car is packed to the brim with standard safety equipment, including the usual package of airbags, ABS, EBD, Advanced Stability control and the list goes on. This model came with optional City Safety, a system that should stop those low speed bumper bashings from happening. It worked the one time I didn’t intend to try it, stopping the car before I rolled into the car in front of me. There’s some T&C’s that come with that, so read your manual carefully, and don’t trust it to save a bad driver. Another options is BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) which notifies you of motor vehicles in your blind spot through a little orange light right by the mirrors. It works well, but you could just look in your mirror you lazy ass. Interior The interior is truly another Volvo masterpiece, with a simplified layout, and all the functions operating through the central LCD screen. Every material and button is of phenomenal quality, to the touch, and to the eye. There is loads of space, as well as boot that can swallow at least 2 golf bags. I cannot fault the interior at all. Exterior Although it might not be to the liking of everyone, by George thank God it doesn’t! Finally, a Volvo that splits opinion. I really like the looks, the short, tight rear, and mammoth front end (which is a bit of a bitch to park. Thank goodness for park distance control front and rear) Everywhere I stopped, I had at least 1 person ask me about the car, and commented that they liked the looks. Something I’ve never heard about a Volvo, so they’ve done something right. Performance and Drive Train The engine is a beauty, with loads of grunt in any gear, and the Haldex all-wheel drive system allows instant power delivery to the wheels. There’s a nice 6 cylinder growl when you get up in the rev range and I love the way the all-wheel drive system balances the power delivery just right, without understeer or heavy nose dives. Once again, I can’t fault these two. If I could fix one thing, I’d give it adaptive suspension. I think it would make a more complete 2-tone package, that allowed you to tear off the traffic lights and around the bends in sport mode when you wanted, but also allowed some more relaxed cruising in comfort. The suspension is really the only big sore that keeps that from happening, so if you can go for the adaptive suspension, I probably would. That said, be careful on the options list, it seems there are quite a few boxes to tick, which is a pity, as Volvo’s of old used to come standard with the works. Overall, it’s an amazing car, is unique in its own right, whilst offering a supremely luxurious interior and some fun when you want it. Most buyers will feel this is a perfect fit, and for the majority, it works incredibly well. Sure, if you really want a focused, sporty drive, you’d probably opt for its competition, but it stands out from the crowd, and for that, I can’t fault it. More detail on the web here – Pictures referenced off