There is something that feels very right when you settle into the cockpit of a Volvo. It could be the chunky steering wheel (which is a delight to hold) and oversized indicator and wiper stalks, which are better suited to equally huge hands. Perhaps it’s those wonderful seats, which seem to suit just about any body type.
It could even be down to the confidence you feel knowing that the Swedish carmaker puts occupant safety above all else. But if someone were to suggest that this feeling of “rightness” is stemming from the fact that Volvos are fun to drive, you’d probably balk at the idea. After all, these cars are safe and sensible. If you’re a thrill-seeker, you’d look elsewhere.
Volvo, however, is trying to persuade drivers to abandon this conventional thinking with its S60 T5 Drive-E.
If you still thought Volvos were conservative, then this particular model might just change your mind. Recently updated, the S60 pictured here has a sleeker and more elegant front end compared to the pre-facelift model. The test car, which came with 18-inch matte black wheels (a $9k option), further enhances its road presence.
Equally pleasing is the car’s interior. The front seats, as mentioned earlier, are the best in the business, for they offer the most optimal blend of cushiness and support. The new feature in the cockpit is the brand’s Adaptive Digital Display. First seen on the V40 hatchback, this display varies the look of the instrument cluster, depending on which of the three themes are chosen.
In stark contrast to the niftiness of the Adaptive Digital Display is the cumbersome infotainment system. Because the infotainment controls are spread across the centre panel, operating it can be a befuddling experience. That’s a pity, because the updated system now offers in-car Wi-Fi as well as Internet radio.
Easy to comprehend, on the other hand, is the reason for this vehicle’s brisk performance. Powered by a turbocharged 2-litre engine that churns out 245bhp and 350Nm, Volvo says that the S60 T5 can accomplish the century dash in 6.3 seconds.
The motor, however, doesn’t just offer muscle; it has an eco-friendly side, too. Activate the Eco+ setting and the car will attempt to lessen its carbon footprint by dulling the motor’s responsiveness and reducing the air-conditioning’s throughput. The former is acceptable, but given our climate, the latter is unbearable.
Eco+ also activates the car’s coasting function, which decouples the gearbox from the engine when you lift your foot from the throttle at highway speeds. This function is immediately deactivated, however, once you step on the brake or accelerator pedal. Given the automobile’s comfort-biased ride, it’s no surprise that it excels at cruising rather than bruising. If you want to tackle corners, they’d best be the gentle, winding sort.
The S60 probably won’t appeal to enthusiasts. But for drivers considering a junior executive saloon that’s speedy, sensible and safe, look no further than this Swede, because it feels just right.
ENGINE 1969cc, 16-valves, inline-4, turbocharged
MAX POWER 245bhp at 5500rpm
MAX TORQUE 350Nm at 1500-4800rpm
GEARBOX 8-speed automatic with manual select
0-100KM/H 6.3 seconds
TOP SPEED 230km/h
CONSUMPTION 16.7km/L (combined)
CO2 EMISSION 139g/km
PRICE INCL. COE
$190,000 (after $10k CEVS rebate)