Volvo S 60
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Expert Rating
: 8/10
: 1 Yr / Unlimited kms (Whichever is earlier)
Ex-showroom price in 
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32.65 Lakhs-38.25 Lakhs

Strong Areas

  • Contemporary styling
  • Powerful performance
  • Spacious interiors
  • Spot-on ergonomics
  • Excellent all-around safety

Weak Areas

  • Low mileage
  • Small city practicality
  • Dust-prone interiors
  • Average value for money
  • Limited dealership network
Volvo S 60

Volvo launches S60 and makes its intention clear of wanting to be known name like Mercedes, BMW and Audi in Indian car market.

Volvo launches S60 in India with a simple intention of becoming a main stream luxury car player in the Indian car market. S60, Volvo's most affordable car plans to compete head-on against the likes on Mercedes Benz C Class, BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Will or can S60 help Volvo realise this objective, read on to find more.



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Volvo officially came to India in 2007 but the Swedish carmaker simply hasn’t managed to get onto the Indian luxury car buyer’s radar. Mercedes, BMW and Audi all figure prominently and have plenty of top of the mind recall but mention Volvo and people give you a quick ‘Aah, yes’ and then forget about it. No doubt, the recently launched and highly capable XC60 has created a small ripple but Volvo is still by and large unknown in India. However, that could change. Volvo wants to go mainstream with its latest and most affordable model in its range, the all-new S60. The rakish and Sporty saloon, which appeals both to head and heart, will go head-on against the likes of the BMW 3-series, Merc C-class and Audi A4. Volvo believes it has a sound strategy to lure customers away from the Germans. With the S60, Volvo is dangling a ferociously powerful petrol motor to entice buyers and, if that’s not enough to hook them, there’s a punchy and practical diesel to warrant a closer look too. All this at very attractive prices. But is that sufficient to make the S60 truly desirable? And is it good enough to offset Volvo’s brand weakness in our market? A rigorous road test answers these crucial questions.
Like all modern Volvos, the S60 is designed with a very aggressive, almost rakish profile. Almost no design cues are carried over from boxy Volvos of old, and there is a lot in common with the design language of the carmaker’s more recent cars like the XC60. Yes, the strong shoulder line and the chrome diagonal on the grille are still there, and the S80’s coupe-like roofline is retained as well. But this is clearly a new design direction and it works superbly. We also like the way the nose of the car is tipped slightly forward too, giving it an aggressive stance.
The S60 was engineered when Volvo was part of Ford and, as a result, the car is built on the same EUCD platform as the Mondeo. The steel monocoque chassis uses MacPherson struts up front and multiple links at the rear, and the engines are located transversely, Placed well back in the engine bay for better weight distribution. Using a Ford platform is no bad thing, especially if you want a car to ride and handle well. And Volvo claims this is its best driving car ever, its engineers having made a number of improvements to the S60’s chassis. These include a stiffer front subframe, stiffer strut mount tops, stiffer bushes, a 10 percent quicker steering rack and a new steering column that’s twice as rigid.
The petrol T6 also gets a Haldex four-wheel –drive system, which has a combined rear differential and clutch. Incorporated into this system is a unique ‘torque vectoring’ system, which works in conjunction with the yaw and roll sensors of the ESP or stability control program. As soon as some understeer is detected, the torque vectoring system sends more power to the rear wheels so that the car can be pointed into the corner more easily. The idea is to use power rather than brakes to bring the car back in line. Weight distribution on the diesel front-wheel drive, however, is more skewed to the front, upto 62 percent of the weight resting on the front wheels.
Volvo, in all probability, makes the safest cars in the world and while this car is its entry saloon in India, the S60 comes with a suite of safety features, some of them unique to this car, which could shame even a Merc S-class (see box). And all that safety kit at this price is phenomenal.
A shocking omission, however, is the lack of a spare tyre or run-flat tyres. At least BMW’s run-flats allow you to get to your destination at a reduced speed. Volvo only provides a puncture repair kit, no much use if you get a slashed tyre wall, something that’s quite common in India.
Sweden is famous for its classy and minimalist interior design. And the S60 reflects its heritage. For Indian tastes, the straight lines and simple form of the cabin may be a bit too boring but there’s an appealing blend of high quality and robustness that makes it special. Swathes of brushed metal, especially on the doorpads and steering wheel, look really good and the ‘floating’ central console – a Volvo signature – stands out. The Cyclops’ eye vent at the top of the central console is also unique. What also add to the funky appeal of the cabin are the two-tone seats, with their tall anti-whiplash headrests.
As on all Volvos, the seats are among the best around, and thigh support and bolstering are very good. The seats, again feel a half size larger than competitors and we found the front seats to be extremely comfortable even after a long day spent behind the wheel. Rear seat comfort is also very impressive. You sit slightly lower than say in a Mercedes C-class, but legroom, thigh support and especially lower back support are better. And the central transmission tunnel isn’t as abtrusive as on other rear-wheel-drive competitors; better for the fifth passenger.
The quality of the leather, plastics and metal bits is also very impressive, and we were hardpressed to find even a few cheap-looking bits on this car.
However, some ergonomic oddities do exist. You can’t point the air-con vents as effectively as you’d imagine, the mass of buttons on the central console can be confusing, and the cream-coloured leather on the steering wheel is certainly a big mistake in India. It will get soiled in weeks. You do get a pair of large size cupholders in the elbow box and the S60 has a front parking comera as well, which is unique. This video screen-based parking system also has a fantastic graphic overlay that tells you exactly how close you can park; a really nice feature for our congested cities.
The safety systems do their job but also feel like on overkill. While the BLIS (Blind Spot Information System) works well, flashing away to warn you about bikers darting down the left, the Lane Departure Warning is largely useless (as lane markings are far and few between!) and the Collision Warning is a bit too trigger-happy and beeps at the slightest provocation.
Volvo has two powerful motors on offer for the S60, and we’ve tested both. However, it’s the T6 with its 304bhp turbocharged transversely mounted straight six that won our heart. Mated to a four-wheel-drive system via a six-speed automatic, this potent motor delivers brilliant performance from anywhere in the powerband. The four-wheel-drive system is quick to channel power optimally to all four wheel and the motor belts out a thick wad of torque which is delivered with a sporty snarl. Acceleration is strong enough to make passengers initially gasp and this turbo-petrol’s mind-range is nothing short of explosive. In a straight drag, the S60 eats the BMW 330i for breakfast and spits the Audi A4 3.2 out of its tailpipes. The C-class isn’t even in the picture. Get this – 0-100kph in the S60 arrives in 6.3 second compared to 8.10sec and 8.05sec for the most powerful 3-series and A4 respectively and the gap only widens the quicker you go. Another stat to commit to memory is the S60’s 0-200kph time of just 24.4sec which is quicker than even the BMW 535i! The S60 is a seriously quick car and that means you can have bags of fun behind the wheel, especially on an open road.
What makes the T6 even more impressive is the fact that this motor is vey driveable at city speeds. There is very little lag and the engine feels responsive and always alert. The only fly in the ointment is the gearbox which feel slow at times and blunts performance. In ‘D’ the transmission hesitates quite a bit and you need to leave the lever in S mode if you’re driving in a hurry. Also sorely missed on the model are paddle-shifters because it is in manual mode that the transmission feel best. While the T6 petrol revs comfortably to 6700rpm it doesn’t spin as easily as a Bimmer’s straight-six and isn’t as turbine smooth either.
The 2400cc D5 diesel motor is less impressive and doesn’t set benchmarks like the T6. This five cylinder diesel throbs more than a bit at start up and it certainly isn’t a silent as expected from a car in this class either. However, it does spin enthusiastically and smoothens up a fair bit but you are always aware of the odd number of cylinders firing under the hood. Also, noise levels are considerably higher than say on a BMW’s 320d which, in comparison, feels both silent and silky smooth.
As on the bigger S80, the D5 engine uses a pair of sequential turbos to force-feed the cylinders and the result is a class-leading power output of 205bhp. The surge of power in the midrange from 2000 to 4000rpm is truly impressive and this makes the car effortlessly lunge forward with just a dab of the pedal. Again, it’s the quickest car in its class (if you don’t include the potent but far pricier A4 3.0TDi) and takes a scant 8.19sec and 17.9sec to get to 100kph and 150kph respectively. The strong midrange also makes it a very good highway cruiser and passing other cars is just a prod of the throttle away. We just wish it was more refined and came with a slightly faster-acting automatic gearbox.
Power is nothing without control. Volvo seems to know this better than most and as a result has done a stellar job of harnessing and channeling powerful motors in the S60 effectively. The stiffened chassis of the car is more than up to the task, the torque vectoring on the four-wheel drive system works like a charm and both the suspension and the steering are well resolved too. As a result the T6 feels well balanced when you corner it hard in ‘Sport’ mode, and the car points into corners very nicely, even holding onto the line on application of the throttle. There is no front engine, front-wheel –drive nose heaviness or understeer and this is most evident when powering out of a corner. The S60’s electro-hydraulic steering lacks the fluid feel of the C-class or the pin-sharp accuracy of a hydraulically powered 3 –series rack but with only 2.6 turns lock-to-lock it’s pretty quick. The high-geared steering gives the baby Volvo amazing agility and you can string it through a series of corners with ease.
The T6 also comes with different suspension settings. In Comfort mode, it feels particularly supple and is ideal for normal driving. In Sport mode, the S60 hunkers down with little suspension movement and feels glued to the road, but it feels a little jiggly on an uneven surface and doesn’t have the flat poise of a C-Class. Also, at lower speeds, the S60’s suspension can be quite jarring and sharp ruts and expansion joints can jolt the passengers. The lack of sufficient rebound damping and the 215/50 low profile tyres are the most likely culprits.
Also unimpressive were the brakes, especially at higher speeds. They do a fair job but feel a bit soggy and lack bite.
Without the adjustable damping and the four-wheel-drive system, the D5 diesel feels like a different animal. The suspension is quite pliant and it cushions passengers well but if you jump into the D5 after the T6, you’re in for a huge disappointment. The ride quality is nowhere as well resolved and the D5 feels lumpy on bad roads. The steering feels lethargic, which accentuates the nose-heavy handling. Unlike its rear-wheel –drive competition, the front-wheel drive S60 diesel doesn’t feel as well balanced and there’s a fair amount of torque steer too.
A turbo-petrol producing over 300bhp isn’t going to be frugal but the T6 didn’t turn out to be the guzzler we expected. In the city it returned a surprising 6.9kpl in the city and 11.1kpl on the highway, if you drive normally. Like most turbo-petrols, fuel efficiency is very sensitive to driving style and even the smallest bit of enthusiasm with the throttle pedal will sends figures south. The D5 diesel way pretty efficient again returning 9.5kpl and 13.4kpl for the city and highway cycles respectively.
Hugely capable saloon sets many benchmarks.
There’s no doubt that Volvo has bent over backwards to entice customers with its new saloon. The S60 still lacks the class and poise of the C-class, the finely honed dynamics of a 3-series or the sheer quality of an A4 but if you look at it on sheer specs or bangs for your buck, the S60 blows the others away. The engines are the most powerful around, the level of safety equipment is unmatched and, despite being an import, it’s amazingly well priced. The base diesel comes for Rs 27 lakh while the top-of-the-line petrol at Rs 34 lakh undercuts an equivalent 3-series or A4. Compared to the scintillating T6, the D5 felt lackluster but it’s the diesel that is ultimately the more practical choice. Either way, the S60 is a convincing alternative to its well established German rivals.

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