Slinky. Sexy. Good looking. Curvaceous. Words once used to describe the better half of Abba are now used to describe Volvo cars. The D4 S60 stands tall in this list and A Wheel Thing gets reacquainted with the good looking Swede.Powersource.
It’s a fuel efficient (4.2L/100 km, from a 67.5L tank) 2.0L diesel, with 133 kW (4250 rpm) and a torque figure that helps the acceleration (7.4 seconds to 100 km/h) of 400 Newton metres. What’s important about this is where it’s delivered: from 1750 to 2500 rpm. This gives almost unrivalled flexibility, safe overtaking and off the line, head snapping, acceleration. A 1614 kg dry weight helps, too…
Bolted behind (or, in the case of a transversely mounted engine, next to), the engine is an impressive eight speed auto.
It’s smooth, slick, virtually imperceptible in its shifts although there was some noticeable vibration at low revs. Naturally there’s a paddle shifter setup inside but the tractability of the diesel really negates the need for it to be used.
Volvo tag their engines with a “Drive-E” nomenclature; effectively it’s a shorthand way of saying it’s gearing towards economic usage, where possible and is backed, technologically, by Stop/Start (turns the engine off when the car has been brought to a rest and the brake sensor reads that) as an example. But it goes further than that, it’s a philosophy that embraces the whole car: better fuel economy, less emissions, recyclable materials and more.
Long nose, short tail, slinky looks in a teardrop style. Swiveling headlights at the front, boomerang neons at the rear bookend a svelte, lithe figure.
There’s folding wing mirrors, puddle lamps, grippy (very grippy!) Continental types, some tidy alloys inside, LED driving lights, exhausts buried neatly inside two chromed exits and not a hint of the boxiness Volvo was famed for. It’s not utterly beautiful but there’s more than enough appeal in its curvaceousness to catch the eye.
It’s here that the S60 starts to show its age; touchscreens are de riguer nowadays and the S60, being a little older than some, misses out. Volvo have released the XC90 (coming to Australia soon) with a touchscreen setup and there’s little doubt this will point the way for future Volvo machines.
The centre console has long been a “dislike” for A Wheel Thing; it’s messy, busy, requires more time than is safe to figure out which button to push and a touchscreen will go a long way to alleviating this. There is a colour screen in the swoopy dash, which will show all of the info selected via the jog dials in the vertical, floating centre section.
Audio is available via a well matched speaker set, plus Bluetooth streaming, USB and Auxiliary inputs; stored stations can be accessed via the phone keypad but the interface is still not intuitive. There’s voice control for the navigation as well, with th lot coming under the umbrella name of Sensus.
The seats are well padded, comfortable to a tee and supportive just where they need to be. Being heated ($375 option) helped during a cold snap in Sydney, warming the body whilst a light drizzle of warm air directed towards the footwells kept the tootsies toasty. Of all of the buttons on the console, the aircon ones seem to be the least “lost”, which is a boon on a cold day. There’s also aircon vents mounted vertically in the B pillars to feed the rear seat passengers.The dash is the one Volvo owners know and love; a multi faceted display, with a customisable look via a push switch and jogdial on the left hand indicator, which allows a choice of information screens as well. It’s relatively simple and offers the driver a chance to personalise the look. There’s memory seating positions, plenty of room in the back for most passengers, 60/40 split fold rear seats that lead to a reasonable (339L)cargo space (and non full sized spare).
The steering wheel has a good, chunky, heft to it, plus is home to a number of buttons for audio, cruise and is mounted on a metallic V. Naturally there’s paddles behind the tiller for those that choose manual shifts.
Being a Volvo, there’s safety acronyms aplenty: ABS, HBA (Hydraulic Brake Assist), EBA (Emergency Brake Assist) which also activate the Emergency Brake Light system (flashes hazards under emergency braking), DSTC (Dynamic Stability and Traction Control), SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) and more. Bottom line: it’s a Volvo. You’ll be safe.
On The Road.
The console may be a bit tired, but the road manners of the S60 are anything but. That diesel engine is the highlight of the S60’s road ability; 400 torques in that rev range provide unsullied usable acceleration and overtaking, with a seamless, linear surge once the torque comes on song.
It’s not without a flaw, being the typical “should I, can I?” of turbos once they’re off boost and the D4 is no stranger to that. It was most noticeable in slow freeway traffic, when it was under 1500 revs; a stand on the loud pedal, a second’s hesitation, a deep gulp of air before the Continentals hooked up and grabbed bitumen.
Handling is as cool and precise as you’d expect a car from Sweden to be; point, shoot, go. The steering loads up nicely on either side of centre, responds to a gentle touch and really only says torque steer when the S60 is powering up through the ratios.
The ride quality is sublime; the aforementioned Continentals hang on, yet also dial out a lot of the minor bumps and ripples on the roads. The suspension rarely felt unsettled and lent a strong feeling of confidence and control across a variety of road surfaces, from tarmac to bush dirt. The brakes were sensibly weighted, with only a bit of travel before a progressive pedal activated a well modulated system.
The S60 started at a tick under $62K; with options fitted such as Blind Spot Information Service (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, a Driver Alert System (Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Active High Beam Control, Forward Collision warning and more), it topped out at $69015.
Is it worth it?
Where do I sign?
Head to www.volvocars.com.au for info on the fabulous range and including the forthcoming XC90. For service details and costs, contact your local Volvo dealer.
For A Wheel Thing TV: 2016 Hyundai Sonata Active
The Car: Volvo S60 D4 Luxury.
Engine: Transversely mounted, four cylinder, 2.0L.
Transmission: eight speed automatic.
Power/Torque: 131 kW/400 Nm @ 4250/1750-2500 rpm.
Weight: 1614 kg.
Economy: (combined, claimed) 4.2L/100 km.
Dimensions: (L x W x H in mm) 4635 x 1865 x 1484.
Warranty: three years, unlimited kilometres.