2011 Volvo S60
Date Posted: February 9, 2011
By Zack spencer
Built to be a competitor in the premium compact class. Does the S60 have what it takes against BMW, Mercedes and others?
The market leaders in the entry-level compact, luxury class have been the BMW 3 Series, Infiniti G, Mercedes C-Class and Audi A4, to name a few. All of these cars have a unique take on what a compact luxury sedan should be. The latest and arguable one of the best new entries into this competitive segment is the all-new Volvo S60. This model accounts for the lion's share of Volvo's sedan sales and is very important to the future of Volvo, now that it has been purchased from Geely Motors of China. With a starting price of $38,300, the S60 it is right in the meat of this market especially when the high-output T6 (turbo six-cylinder) is factored in. On paper the high output model is a relative bargain, at $45,450, compared too much of the competition.
Roughly the same size as the old S60, this new model has a dramatic stance and shape that is light years away from the boxy Volvo's of old. To make it in this competitive segment you have to have a car that performs but also looks like it performs. The LED running lights are very much in keeping with the rest of this competitive set, the sharper looking nose is attractive and the rear stance is effective due to creative taillights and macho exhaust tips. Volvo has come a long way and this S60 is a good-looking car. The model tested was the T6, is all-wheel drive and comes equipped with 17-inch wheels or optional but 18-inch wheels for just $600 more. The base T5 (turbo 5-cylinder) model is just arriving now at dealerships and will be sold as a 2012 model. This, only slightly less powerful version, can only be purchased as a front-wheel drive model.
For years Volvo has been at the top of the heap when it comes to interior comfort, I place their seats as the most comfortable in the business. Like nothing else in the market, they have a unique Scandinavian approach that is refreshing. Some criticism has been placed on the ''floating'' centre consol that some might find too small or too simple. After a while, the radio and heat controls do become easy to master and the experience is pleasing. The dash and door panels are fitted with soft-touch materials but it could be argued that the textures and colours are a little drab. The centre computer interface is rather small but it does a good job of providing information in an easy to use format similar to the popular Audi MMI system. Overall the interior is very functional and supremely comfortable.
Here are the stats on the S60 T6 and why it is a relative bargain. With standard AWD, 300hp and even more torque, it competes with the $52,100 BMW 335i xDrive, and $52,500 Audi S4 but it is over $6000 cheaper than both. The closest competitor on price and power is the $43,450 Infiniti G37X. The road handling and engine response is similar in feel to an Audi A4, compared to the more athletic feeling BMW. The feedback to the driver is very good through the steering wheel and chassis, providing a nice balance of refinement and sportiness. The engine is the star of the show, pulling effortlessly at any speed and showing no signs of turbo-lag. Not only does the T6 come with standard AWD but also the ability to reduce wheel pull/slip when exiting a corner by briefly applying the brake to the inside wheel. This provides very sure-footed handling.
Not only is this new Volvo the most dynamic car they have ever built but one of the safest. The ''City Safety'' program uses sensors on the front of the car to detect if the S60 is about to hit another vehicle or object. Below 30km/h this system will actually fully brakes for the driver if no action is taken, eliminating an accident. Above 30km/h it will slow the car to reduce the impact. The additional ''Pedestrian Detection'' system uses the same sensors but also has a camera to detect people. If a pedestrian walks in front of the car, the same auto stop feature or brake reduction will take place. In total, the S60 T6 is an impressive car because it has the power and handling required in this segment, interior comfort, good looks and advanced safety. If you want a powerful, fun to drive car for less, then the S60 is worth a look.
The Good, The Bad
Volvo is known for safety advancements and the S60 is the first car with the ''Pedestrian Detection'' auto braking system.
The 6-speed automatic does not come with paddle shifters on the steering wheel.
Power: 3.0L turbo 6-cylinder with 300hp
Fill-up: 11.3L/9.7L/100km (city/highway)
Sticker price: $45,500