2011 Volvo S60 T6
If encroachment is a sin in football, it is a bold deed in automobiles.
Volvo of Sweden has engineered itself into that place with the introduction of the all-new S60 T6 sports sedan.
It is an unaccustomed venue for a company steeped in a tradition of homely values of solid and stolid transportation modules renowned primarily for their dedication to safety.
Volvo also finds itself spiritually adrift from its home country, torn from its roots first by America’s Ford Motor Co. and now, in a seemingly incomprehensible turn of events for a company that had never appeared to the public as being threatened, owned by a Chinese entity, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.That certainly doesn’t represent Volvo in most people’s minds and, thanks be, the new owner has mostly left Volvo to its own devices—as had Ford before it.
The newest of those devices is the 2011 S60 T6 sedan, a coupe-like four-door built in Sweden that cheekily encroaches on the sports coupe and sedan establishment in Germany and Japan.
It brazenly sets itself against the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Lexus IS, Acura TL, Infiniti G37 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. On paper, and somewhat surprisingly in the driving experience, it has the wherewithal with a 300-horsepower, turbocharged six-cylinder engine linked to a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive.
“It is our sportiest, most dynamic and emotional offering to date,” says Frank Vacca, the S60’s brand manager.
That is not just a partisan’s exhaust smoke. From the newly sculptured exterior to the richly crafted interior, as well as the performance enhancements, anyone approaching the new S60 should first clear the brain of thoughts about earlier Volvos.
The first thing you notice, after an appraisal of the outside and inside styling, is the jump off the line. Mash the push pedal and the turbo torque spools up without hesitation. The surge continues unabated right up to illegal speeds.
The feel is traditional Volvo-solid but the steering has quickness and the tires deliver a bite that hustles the S60 rapidly around curves with minimal input from the driver. Yet the suspension system has enough give so that unexpected heaves and gaps in the road surface are not upsetting. This is a driver’s car with a nice boulevard ride.
Yet this is a Volvo, after all, with a reputation to maintain, so it incorporates state-of-the-art safety technology.The one that gets the mouth agape is the pedestrian detection system.
Say you’re driving slowly in an urban area and an inattentive child or some fool steps or runs out in front of you. The S60, without prompting, slams on the brakes and stops before metal collides with flesh.
Other safety systems warn if you wander from your traffic lane and maintain your cruise control distance from the car ahead, right down to a stop. When traffic starts moving again, a touch of the throttle re-engages the cruise control and the interval.
There’s also an optional front-view camera that provides a 180-degree view to the right and left that shows up on the navigation screen, as well as all the now-usual safety stuff like side air bags, and stability and traction control.
Another safety option is a blind-spot warning system. It is intended to augment the original blind-spot warning invention, called outside mirrors. The problem is the vast majority of motorists never learned how to properly adjust them, so they continue to live with blind spots. In lieu of adjusting your mirrors correctly, you can spend $700 on Volvo’s system, which illuminates the warning in—you guessed it—the side-view mirrors.
The S60 is neither large nor particularly economical. With 93 cubic feet of passenger space and 12 cubic feet in the trunk, along with a length of 15 feet 2 inches, it is classified as a compact, like most of its competitors. Its weight of 3,901 pounds and the powerful turbo motor earn it an EPA city/highway fuel consumption of 18/26 miles to the gallon.
There’s plenty of space, comfort and support up front in seats that hew to Volvo tradition. They are shaped to fit the torso, with good lateral support, and are upholstered in soft leather, as are the doors and other surroundings. But the outboard back seats, though nicely shaped and contoured, are tight for all but smaller passengers. The center position can carry a fifth person temporarily with minimal comfort.With all the attention to detail, Volvo missed one. The sun visors do not slide on their support rods and so do not adequately block sunlight from the side.
Base price of the S60 T6 is $38,550. That includes an electric parking brake, garage-door opener, tire-pressure monitoring, 18-inch alloy wheels, heated outside power mirrors, auto-dimming rear-view mirror, cruise control, tilt-and telescoping steering wheel, trip computer, satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.
The test car, with options that included pedestrian detection, navigation, premium audio, rear park assist camera, motorized sunroof, xenon headlights, heated front seats, rain-sensing windshield wipers, headlight washers and a blind-spot warning system, bumped the suggested sticker to $47,100.