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Old 9th May 2011, 10:22   #1
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Default Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

The Volvo S60 T6 AWD has been launched in India at a price of 34 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you'll like:

• A F-A-S-T European muscle car; 304 BHP & 440 Nm of torque
• Astonishing grip, stability and braking
• Premium build quality, inside out
• Light and easy to drive in the city. Flies low on the highway
• Loaded with kit, including turn with steering headlamps, reversing camera, adaptive cruise control etc.
• 5 star safety tech. Laser assisted braking, driver alert control, lane departure warning and more

What you won't:

• Lacks the badge value of chief German competitors
• No spare wheel. No runflat tyres. Ridiculous for Indian driving conditions!
• Cramped back seat. Also, rear bench placed too low
• Small 380 liter boot
• Poor ground clearance (130 mm) on rough roads. Scrapes away to glory
• Volvo's wafer-thin dealer / service network

Photo credits : Stratos

NOTE: Click any picture to open a larger higher-resolution version in a new window.
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:22   #2
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

No one goes to war without arms & armour. The stupendously high growth numbers of our luxury car market have got the attention of every premium brand that exists today. Equally, the fierce competition (especially between Mercedes & BMW) keeps all the players on their toes. Volvo knows it doesn't have the brand recall of the Germans, and is better known for commercial buses in India. Thus, to differentiate itself, Volvo brings a beefed up S60 to the sports sedan segment. Beefed up, and how. 300+ horsepower engine, an AWD system, loaded to the gill with features, packed with a 5 star safety kit, priced bang against the BMW 330i and substantially cheaper than the Audi A4 3.2 FSI.

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Of course, top of the line petrols don't really bring the volumes home; that's the job of the cheaper diesels. Yet, these cars create a brand halo effect that rubs off on the marque's other cars. After all, in this segment, it's all about the brand, isn't it? Volvo has gotten a competent product. The challenge is to make it to the initial shortlist of potential customers...the first round of considered cars for someone with a 35 lakh budget. Product recall is of paramount importance, and that's where Volvo has to work the hardest.

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The S60 is a direct fully-built import from Europe. Developed at a time when Volvo’s car division was owned by Ford (current owner is Geely from China), the S60 is based on the same EUCD platform as the Ford Mondeo, Volvo S80 and XC60 SUV. This is not your usual, boxy and conservative looking Volvo. Though you still won't mistake it for anything other than a Volvo, the design is sufficiently contemporary. While the heavy nose isn't much to my taste, the car does look aggressive, especially when viewed dead from the front. The coupe'ish roof is snazzy, and the sharp shoulder line brings character. My favourite view is the rear 3 quarter (refer below), though overall, the Audi A4 still has the best design from this segment. I'm not a fan of the quirky C Class or the Bangle'd 3 series at all. We didn’t expect the Volvo to attract any attention on our highway drive, but were proven wrong. The S60 turned a lot of heads, and also made some people stop and inquire about the car. It could be because of the bright colour too? Either ways, after checking out the car for a little time, the standard question was “kaunsi gaadi hai ye?” (Which car is this?).

Since it’s a CBU, paint quality is top notch and panel gaps are small & consistent all around. Build quality is solid, as is the case with all cars in this premium segment.

Aggressive and in-your-face. Still, you won't mistake it for anything but a Volvo:

Strangely enough, even with the xenons, I didn’t find the low or high beams to be satisfactory. They don’t turn night into day at all. In fact, my C-Class’ regular non-xenon headlamps are better. I also found the low beam to be positioned too low, and the high beam too high:

Bright rear LEDs:

215/50 R17 tyres mounted on 5 spoke alloy wheels. The car handles so well on the 215 patch rubber, I can only imagine what she will be like on sticky 235s!

Notice the vertical, dotted line on the ORVM. The mirror area outside of that is more convex, giving you a wider view. The camera lens (right below) keeps an eye out for objects in your blind spot, and warns you accordingly:

We lovingly termed this device, mounted on top of the windscreen, as the "Big Brother" who is always watching you! Look closely and you'll see a camera, lasers and many other sensors that are continually monitoring your driving style, and the road ahead:

Large sunroof. Wind deflector protects your hairdo!

Twin, meaty tail pipes sing a sweet melody at high rpms:

Subtle rear spoiler treatment:

Shark fin radio antenna mounted on the roof. Just like 'em BMWs:

Small rubber flaps placed ahead of the wheels have a dual purpose; one is aerodynamic (reducing rolling resistance from air), and the second is to control frontward splashing:

No need for sensors on the door handles. As long as the key is in your pocket, just tug on the handle, and the door will open:

Last edited by GTO : 24th May 2011 at 11:18. Reason: Spell check
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:23   #3
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

The S60 gets pure keyless entry; thus, you merely walk up to the car and pull the door handle. As long as the smart key is in your pocket, the door will open. The doors of the C Class, 3 series and A4 shut with a thud; the Volvo’s close with a deep T-H-U-D. This car feels more like the proverbial tijori-on-wheels than any of its competitors. In fact, I found myself opening & closing the driver’s door, several times, only to enjoy the sound . As is typical of most CBUs, the interior part quality is fabulous. There is not a single piece of material inside that feels lacking in premium’ness. Each button, control and texture (including the seats) boasts of outstanding construction quality.

The overall design is rather uninspired though, and borders on dull. If you are a fan of swoopy, curvy and futuristic looking interiors, you'll be disappointed. The S60's interior does lack the design flair of some competitors. Even the gear lever looks so boring, and is reminiscent of the units in American cars from the nineties.

The front seats are the best I’ve sat on in a long time. They are well-sculpted and wrap around you. Even the under-thigh region gets beefed up padding for A+ support. European cars usually have ultra-firm seat upholstery, be it Mercedes, BMW or the others. The Volvo’s seats, on the other hand, are neither too firm nor too soft. Volvo has gotten the compound just right. Either front seat can be electrically adjusted. Within a matter of minutes, I was at home in the S60. It’s not tough to get accustomed to the car, save for the center console and its innumerable buttons. The multitude of seat adjustments gives you a perfect driving position, while the primary driving controls are easy to figure out. The center console even tilts toward the driver for that "cockpit effect". The front neck restraints (head rests) are the tallest I’ve ever seen; they nearly touch the roof with only an inch of clearance in between! The steering is thick and chunky. Yet, its design feels like that of a regular executive sedan. Volvo should have given the T6 AWD variant a sportier steering wheel. The one on the BMW 3 series & even my Civic are far more sporty. Further, the dual-tone (black & beige) steering finish does not look tasteful. A completely black wheel with brushed aluminum accents would have looked far better. Also, you really need to stretch your thumb out and press the horn pad hard to honk. Lastly, the steering's leather cladding is rock hard to the touch. Like in most modern cars, the A-Pillar is thick, yet it doesn’t create significant blind spots (as in my C220). The driver’s frontal & lateral view are satisfactory. On the flip side, for a car that prides itself on safety, rearward visibility is rather poor. The high parcel tray doesn’t help matters, while the three (rear) neck restraints block out 40 – 50% of the rear windscreen. The (internal) rear view mirror is strictly average too. When you turn around to reverse, with your head in between the front seats, the rearward visibility is pathetic. Sure, there is the camera, but what if I prefer not to use it (or am driving a lesser variant without the camera)? The center console has way too many buttons. We counted about 40 in all, including the stereo and climate control switches! Also, the number of buttons on the steering wheel is overkill. Get this, there are 15 different controls when, honestly, the only two that are required are for the audio & phone. I also find it surprising that, in a car that’s clearly driver-oriented, the steering has no paddle-shift gear controls. The driver (center) armrest is not height adjustable, but it’s placed high enough to rest your elbow or forearm comfortably.

This is a poor choice of car for those on the back seat. Space is similar to the cramped 3 series, and that’s really not saying much. Then, the rear seat is placed so low that anyone over 50 years of age will scamper in the opposite direction. Once seated, you realize that the window sill is too high for comfort, and the tall front neck restraints completely block your view out. Due to the limited glass area & visibility, I felt claustrophobic within a couple of kms on the backseat. Further, the 5th passenger will feel punished because he has the tall transmission hump (on the floor) to contend with. I sat behind the driver’s seat when it was set for a 6 footer…and stepped back out in all of 10 seconds. One positive at the back is that the coupe-like C pillar doesn’t obstruct headroom. It’s sufficient for even 6 feet tall passengers, though that’s probably because the seat is placed so low. The other positive are the rear neck restraints; they are a comfortable place to rest your head on. The seat itself is supportive, though I personally prefer a backrest that is more reclined. 5 tall adults is a distant dream in the S60. Think more like 2 tall occupants (on the front seat) and 2 medium sized (at the back).

In recirculation mode, the climate control system did an excellent job of keeping us cold. In addition, the driver & front seat passenger get their own climate control zones (individual temperatures can be set for either). What I found annoying is that the climate control would automatically switch from “recirculate” to “fresh air” mode after a while. In terms of refinement, the cabin is extremely well-insulated. Even at speed, there is negligible wind & tyre noise. It's nearly Mercedes S-Class like. While engine noise is superbly controlled upto 3,500 rpms, the sporty exhaust note post that revv range is audible. In terms of storage, the glovebox is not wide but runs deep. There is a dedicated spot on the glovebox lid to park the owner’s manual. The front doors have wide & deep door pockets, and can fit a 1 liter bottle each (though it’s quite a twist & turn exercise to get that bottle in). There are 2 coffee holders in the front, between the seats, and a deep storage spot under the driver’s armrest. For rear passengers, there is only a small cubicle on either door, and the seat back pockets to fall back upon. Of course, the rear ash tray can double up as a storage spot for the odds & ends too.

I fail to understand Volvo’s logic in not equipping this car with something as basic as a spare wheel! Such high-performance cars are at their best on the highway. But what kind of long distance touring will its owners do, without a spare tyre! Good luck with a sidewall cut when you are away from any metropolitan city. Sure, Volvo gives a puncture repair kit with the S60, but we all know that is only effective for the smaller, simpler punctures. Heck, forget highways, what will you do if the car ends up with a flat tyre right outside your office? How terribly inconvenient & a shocking oversight.

Look closely at the thick window glass. Ajmat says that the window glasses have a thick seal, to ensure heat is retained during the Scandinavian winters. That also explains the Mercedes S-Class like insulation from outside noise:

Steering wheel should have been sportier. Boring to look at, boring to hold. Black & beige combination looks cheesy:

Dials are easy to read. MID displays data on average FE, instantaneous FE, which safety systems are on / off, current speed, average speed and various other warnings (windshield washer fluid low, which seat belt needs to be worn etc.):

The best front seats in the business:

Memory seats + full electric adjustment:

Choose from three driving modes. "Comfort" is best for the city and with the family, while the petrolhead in you will be addicted to "Sport":

Keep the brake pedal pressed & hit this engine start button to fire up the 6 cylinders:

Placed unobtrusively on either front door. Volvo's BLIS (Blind Spot Info System) has cameras placed under the ORVMs that keep an eye on objects in the driver's blind spot. If there is a vehicle, even a biker, in your blind spot, the triangular orange light flares up:

Upon engaging reverse gear, the screen displays a live video, as well as a graphical outline of the car with proximity bars (on the right). Further, depending on your steering input, it shows you the resultant track (with that steering input) in yellow. The camera is effective even at night:

Center screen displays information on the currently playing song, artist & album. At the bottom, you'll see data on the currently chosen climate control settings. The center screen also allows you to customize the car (vehicle settings, light preferences, safety systems, metrics etc.). Unfortunately, this isn’t a touch screen. Audio system gets full marks. After playing with the settings, I was able to get my preferred “night-club” kinda sound. Very balanced, deep bass and nice treble:

Extremely cluttered center console takes getting used to. Dual-zone climate control, whereby driver & front passenger can set their own individual temperature preferences. Easy to adjust the airflow as there is a switch in the shape of human body that lets you direct the air to the face, chest and / or feet:

Gear lever lacking in design flair:

Narrow foot well. No wonder there isn’t a manual transmission, where will you place the clutch pedal?! XL size dead pedal can easily accommodate XL size footwear:

Glovebox isn't much wide, but very deep. Notice compartment on the inside of the lid to hold the owner's manual:

Deep storage compartment under the driver armrest, with USB & AUX connectors as well. You'll see two cup holders and a removable ashtray on top:

Supportive rear seats but....

....very limited legroom. Even an Altis is more comfortable at the back:

Rear air-con vents placed on the B-Pillar. Fair amount of throw. Adjustable air volume, and can be completely turned off too:

Strangely, the cup holders on the rear armrest remain exposed (and look ugly!). In most cars, they can be concealed with a lid. This takes away from the effectiveness of the armrest:

Rear sunshade standard, though it has to be expanded / collapsed manually:

The transmission hump on the floor is about 4 – 5 inches tall:

380 liter boot is shockingly small in capacity; even a Maruti Dzire has a bigger boot:

Imagine the look on the uninitiated owner's face when, after a puncture, he casually opens the boot for the spare wheel! View the full-size picture (click on thumbnail below) in which the 'ContiMobility" puncture repair kit is clearly visible:

Last edited by GTO : 24th May 2011 at 11:22. Reason: Spell check
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:23   #4
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Keep the brake pedal pressed and hit the engine start button to fire up the 6 cylinders.

The 3 liter turbo-charged, inline-6 cylinder engine is rated at 304 BHP (@ 5,600 rpm) and 440 Nm of torque (starting at a low 2,100 rpm). Within the city, the S60 is light to drive. And thus, convenient to live with on a daily basis. The throttle is very easy to modulate, progress is linear and there are no jerks like in some of the competition. The movement from 0 kph is smooth. If there is turbo-lag, you don’t feel it and the transmission must be doing a great job of concealing the same. The steering is light at low speeds…so light that you can chuck the car in and out of traffic gaps with one hand. You will remember how we weren't impressed with the 330i within urban confines. The BMW's steering was too heavy, the ride too stiff and the engine lacked low end torque (link to 330i review).

As competent as the S60 is within the city, it's on the open road where the real fun begins. This 6 cylinder engine is surprisingly revv-happy for a European petrol. She high-revvs like a hyper Honda, past its 6,600 rpm redline and all the way to 6,900. Volvo rates the car for a 6.2 second dash to the 100. Flooring the accelerator results in instantaneous acceleration, along with that push-into-the-seat feeling for the driver & passengers. Progress is rapid, and the S60 will completely annihilate the 330i & A4 in drag races. The mid-range is punchy too, while responsiveness is common-rail diesel like. The torquey motor doesn’t have a flat spot throughout its revv-range. You can overtake anything on the highway, and in far lesser time than you anticipated. Frankly, the stupendous power delivery takes some getting used to in our driving conditions. The engine & transmission's response to your input is immediate; any gear, any time, any speed….just floor the accelerator and the S60 AWD lunges ahead. Even within town at 45 kph, the motor is ticking over lazily at just 1,300 rpm. Bury the magic pedal, there is a quick downshift and…you guessed it, the S60 leaps forward. The beauty of this turbo-petrol is that, although it sounds sporty at higher rpms, yet upto the normal driving range of 1,500 - 3,500 rpm, it’s very quiet and refined. No passenger will complain of “engine noise” over everyday commutes. On the highway, at a 100 kph, the engine is silently working at a mere 1,900 rpm in 6th gear. The dual nature of this motor impresses, a true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde personality. The engine is as much at home in rush hour traffic as it is on the open road at 200+ kph. And at 200, the Volvo is still accelerating. In terms of outright performance, the S60 T6 AWD matches the best from a segment above (namely the 530d). The C250, 330i and A4 3.2 FSI aren't even in competition here.

The 6 speed automatic transmission is exceedingly competent. The shift quality remains smooth and quick, whether downshifting or upshifting. The transmission is never “hunting” for a gear and nearly always, ends up being in the right ratio. Shift quality is smooth enough that, unless you are looking at the rpm counter, you’ll never know when she upshifted. The gearbox also has a tiptronic mode, where you can manually climb up & down the ratios. Personally though, I’ll tell you to leave the box alone in “D” mode. A complaint I have with the engine & transmission is this. Sometimes, when decelerating from high rpms, and completely unpredictably, there is a strange vibration felt from the engine. Not expected from a car of this segment and feels very un-premium. This vibration was sometimes felt at 5,500 rpms, and then other times at 4,500 rpm. Don't expect this car to be fuel-efficient either, or deliver a long highway tank range. Expect 5 kpl in the city and 6 - 7 on the highway. Our spirited highway run burnt 58 liters of petrol in 370 kms.

There are three other short-comings with the transmission. One, there is no way to hold a gear at the redline, say when you are just entering or in the middle of a corner. The minute the engine hits 6,900 rpm, the S60 will upshift. Second, where are the paddle shifts in a car that's so clearly driver-oriented? Third, I consider it sacrilege to not offer a 6-speed manual transmission option in the S60.

The active suspension gives you 3 settings to choose from; Comfort, Sport and Advanced. You’ll do well to toggle between the first two, depending on whether you are driving with a light foot or heavy. The “comfort” mode leads to compliant ride quality (compliant, not plush), even over imperfect roads. Ride quality is livable and this is probably the mode you should stick with when driving with your family. Except over the sharpest of bumps (17” wheels after all), no one will be complaining of the ride in “comfort” mode. It must be added that the C Class, indisputably, remains the segment benchmark in terms of ride quality. Note that at expressway speeds however, the S60 is actually more comfortable in “sport” mode! Reason? "Comfort" mode is too soft for 100+ kph and leads to a feeling of bounciness on the expressway. It is the sport mode that leads to a completely flat ride at speed.

The suspension noticeably firms up in Sport mode. The S60 is equipped with a torque-vectoring system, and I can tell you from experience that it’s more than just a marketing term. Under hard cornering, brakes are applied to the S60’s inner drive wheel at the same time as power is supplied to the outer wheel. This greatly reduces understeer and maintains a beautiful balance between the front & rear ends of the car. Thanks to the torque-vectoring & AWD systems, the sheer composure on fast corners is mind-boggling. Further, the Haldex AWD and limited slip differential continually split the torque between the front & rear, depending on the driving conditions. Even mid-corner bumps don’t upset the S60’s composure at all. My C Class is at least 2 – 3 levels below this type of dynamic brilliance. On a fast ghat section, using the sheer grip levels on offer, you can literally muscle your way up or down. Best part is, under really aggressive cornering and with the accelerator pedal, you can make the tail slide out ever so much, before the ESP pulls it back in line. Master class! High speed stability is stupendously good. 180 feels like 120 and that isn’t an exaggeration. Absolutely stable, not a hint of nervousness and the car staying flat. The S60 can mask speed much better than any of its direct competitors, and probably cars from a segment above as well. The steering is sufficiently heavy at high speed, though it’s not rock hard as some hydraulic steerings (and which I prefer). Also, for a driving machine, the steering feedback is nowhere in the league of a BMW pure-hydraulic unit. In fact, the only thing you miss while hard cornering is a fully communicative steering wheel. Nearly all cars from this segment have great brakes; that’s a given. The Volvo’s are even better. Stopping capability is astonishingly good, and the rapid deceleration capability actually makes you push harder on your spirited drive. These giant brakes greatly enhance your confidence levels on the open road.

The S60’s ground clearance is woefully poor. While she didn’t have any trouble clearing the small – medium sized highway speed breakers, traveling through a village road was an impossible task! The underbody scraped over 10 times in a 2 km stretch. This particular village patch really wasn’t that bad and the Mercedes C Class would have breezed through it without complaint. What makes it worse is that the S60 was scraping her underbelly with only 3 occupants & light luggage on board. On rough roads, you literally clench your butt, waiting for the underside to scrape again.
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:23   #5
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

SAFETY systems on the Volvo S60

In addition to the multitude of airbags, ABS with EBD, ESP, traction control and reversing camera systems, Volvo equips the S60 T6 AWD with some cutting-edge safety features. A rundown on each below:
  • Turn with Steering lights: Headlamps that move in the direction of your steering wheel. Thus, if you are entering a dimly lit lane on the right, you'll see it illuminated even before you move the car there.
  • Lane Departure Warning: Works on Indian highways, as we found out! The system easily recognises the white lane markings of our highways, and will give you an audible alert if you are drifting off to another lane, driving over the white unbroken road markings, or not sticking to between the lane markings on either side.
  • Blind Spot Information System: Volvo's BLIS (Blind Spot Info System) has cameras placed under the ORVMs that keep an eye on objects in the driver's blind spot. If there is a vehicle, even a biker, in your blind spot, the triangular orange light flares up.
  • Torque vectoring: Under hard cornering, brakes are applied to the S60’s inner drive wheel at the same time as power is supplied to the outer wheel. I can confirm that this system greatly reduces understeer and maintains a beautiful balance between the front & rear ends of the car.
  • Driver Alert Control: detects tired and / or distracted drivers. The S60's camera monitors the car’s movements between the lane markings. Any irregular movements, and a message prompt on the MID will ask you to take a break.
  • Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake: The system detects pedestrians in front of the car, and gives an alert (audible alert + blinking lights on the windscreen) to the driver. If the driver doesn't respond, the S60's brakes will automatically be applied. The system uses information from a radar, and an advanced camera that detects human shapes and movement patterns.
  • Collision Warning with Full Automatic Braking: If the distance to a vehicle ahead suddenly decreases, the system will alert the driver with blinking lights on the windscreen & an audible warning. If the speed is less than 35 kph, the S60 will also prevent a collision by applying the brakes and bringing the car to a complete stop.
  • Adaptive Cruise Control: You can set the desired cruising speed, and the distance to be maintained with the vehicle ahead, in the S60's cruise control. The Adaptive cruise control system will continually monitor the gap to the vehicle ahead and, in case you approach a slower vehicle, the S60 will automatically "adapt" its speed to match that car. System works from 0 - 200 kph.
  • Laser Assisted Automatic braking: Primarily for urban safety. If you get too close to the vehicle / object in front, and at a speed of <15 kph, the S60 will apply its brakes automatically. If the situation occurs between 15 - 50 kph, the S60 will drastically reduce its speed.

While some of the features have inherent value, the others are irrelevant to India. For instance, when driving within the city, keeping the gaps that us Indians are used to (and I mean, COMFORTABLE gaps), the beeps & alerts drove us crazy! A cycle passes from the front of the car = BEEP. A pedestrian is toward the front LHS of the car in a busy market place = BEEP. These systems definitely need to be localised for Indian driving conditions. In their current form, the sensors are hypersensitive & something or the other keeps beeping every 5 minutes. On the final leg of the drive, I switched most of the systems off.
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Other Points:

• There is no easy way to say this : It’s probably because of the stability, or the heavier steering, but I enjoyed driving this car more than the legendary Mitsubishi EVO X (Link to review (Mitsubishi Lancer EVO X : Test Drive & Review)).

• The Audi A4 3.2 FSI has lesser outright power & is slower than the Volvo, yet the Audi's driving experience is equally ferocious. Also, there is another Audi that offers equally stunning performance as well as diesel practicality : The Audi A4 3.0 TDI.

• The reason that we’ve included on-road prices in the price comparo is that, CBU cars (S60, EVO X & A4 3.2) command higher road taxes than locally assembled cars (C250 & 330i).

• Except for back seat space, there is not an area where the S60 T6 AWD doesn’t match (or beat) the E Class and 5 series. Be it refinement, features, safety, power or handling. This is a hugely accomplished car.

• The XC60 (Link to review (Volvo XC60 : Test Drive & Review)) didn’t leave much of an impression on me. But, by gawd, the S60 304 BHP is something else.

• Also available with a 5 cylinder diesel engine (i.e. the S60 D5) with a front-wheel-drive layout. Starting price of Rs. 27 lakhs.

• Quote of the drive from Moderator Stratos : “Encounter a tricky situation in a regular car, press on the brake, and you’ll be okay. With the S60 in a tricky situation, press the accelerator instead and you are okay”.

• The S60 T6 AWD can annihilate those cars that we otherwise consider “fast”. Example : We passed a Cruze on the highway as if he was standing still. Some 20 minutes later, we pull over to the side for a Marlboro. Over 5 minutes pass, and a young lawyer driving that Cruze stops next to us. Says “Man, I tried to keep up with you!”. My response “I didn’t even realize you were making an effort”.

• For GBP 600, you can bump the power up to 322 BHP and nearly 500 Nm of torque. Link.

• 2 year / 60,000 kms warranty with all services included. Unfortunately, no news on any extended warranty packages. BMW's optional 5 year / 100,000 km all-inclusive contracts remain the industry best & give unbeatable peace of mind.

• I HIGHLY recommend buying a space-saver spare for those highway runs. Tell the wife to pack light (admittedly, that's a feat in itself).

• This is the most powerful engine that the S60 is available with, anywhere in the world. Good on Volvo to bring it here.

• There is a rectangular storage cubicle right behind the “floating” center console. It’s actually useless as you’d never keep anything there.

• You can browse through your iPod playlists, artists, albums etc. from the steering itself. Use the scroll wheel on the RHS of the wheel.

• A glaring oversight in usability that the Europeans lack, and the Japanese are so good at. Say, you press the “mute” button of the stereo. Then, even if you turn the volume up or down, the sound stays muted. You have to again press the “mute” button to “unmute”. This is unlike most other cars where the audio volume is reinstated if the + / - volume controls are used.

• The rear suspension does make a noise when going about its work. The front, however, works silently.

• Despite the engine’s size and turbocharger, she ran just fine on regular petrol from a highway pump. No knocking at high rpms either.

• The front seats don’t have the ultra-long travel range that we typically see in most European cars (from the Punto to the S Class).

• All 4 windows have “anti-pinch” protection.

• To access ignition standby mode – where the engine isn’t running, but the electricals (stereo, power windows etc.) work – simply press the engine start button without hitting the brake pedal.

• A “brake hold” feature is sorely missed! Premium cars usually come with this feature, whereby you only press the brake pedal once (in traffic) & leave it….the car will stay put in one place. In the Volvo, however, you have to keep the brake pedal pressed (in D gear) when at a red light, for instance.

• Both front doors get a central locking / unlocking button. Both rear doors gets a lock button only.

• The rear seats don’t have weight sensors. Thus, if a passenger occupies the bench without wearing the seat belt, no problem. However, if he wears the seatbelt, only to remove it later, the alarm system goes berserk and doesn’t stop chiming! Thus, either you stay buckled up, or don’t wear the rear belts at all.

• You can access the boot from inside the car, after folding down the center armrest of the rear seat. Of course, that partition can also be used when carrying long objects in the boot (golf clubs, for instance).

• The cabin lights also illuminate the front foot wells (say, when any door is opened). Nice.

• Once in, you have two options to park the smart key; either place it in your pocket or in the slot right below the engine start button.

• The back of the front seats have an inward scoop to increase knee room. That doesn’t help matters at all. The car is still cramped for rear passengers.

• If the audio system is on, and the safety system wants to alert you about something, it will lower the sound, make sure you hear the alert and then, increase the sound back to the original level again.

• Say you deactivate all the safety features, set the air-con on recirculate mode and switch the engine off. When you’ll start again, the safety features are switched on (by default) and the air-con is in “fresh air” mode. Why can’t the car remember my settings?

• Nifty : The glovebox is lockable.

• Nice to see a car with two ashtrays (one for the front & back each).

• We should get a bravery award for taking a car on a 400 kms test WITHOUT a spare tyre, rear number plate (it fell off) and comprehensive insurance (merely 3rd party coverage on the press car).

• Though Mercedes claims that its C250 petrol is a performance edition, let me tell you that it’s not even in contention here. The S60 blows it away to smithereens.

• Bet you don't know what Volvo means. Volvo = I roll.

• Thanks to Stratos for the pictures, & additional comments during the review.

Last edited by GTO : 24th May 2011 at 11:24.
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:24   #7
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

The Smaller yet significant things:

Electronic parking brake; push to activate and pull to deactivate:

For a car this well-equipped, it's strange that the lumbar support has manual adjustment. The ½ price Laura offers electric lumbar controls. I even found the lumbar support adjustment range too limited:

That's the reversing camera, neatly tucked away above the rear number plate:

Feet air-con vents (for rear passengers) throw out a surprisingly decent amount of air. So much so that, our passenger asked us to switch them off (“my feet are too cold”):

Bonnet release lever (as well as the indicator stalks) has a left-hand-drive orientation:

Useful plastic clip on the windscreen to hold your parking & toll ticket slips:

There's bits and pieces from all over Europe in the S60! Example : the headlamps are made in France, the windscreen in Belgium, the air-con compressor in Poland and so on...

Rear seat folds down, and can also split into a 60:40 ratio. With such a small boot, I guess you are going to need all the flexibility you can get:

Nifty storage envelope sewn to the front of the driver & passenger seats:

I love the stance of the car, even with just 215 width tyres. An S60 T6 AWD with 235 mm tyres will look fabulous:

Curvy high-quality stalks are a finger's length away from the steering. Between the two of them, they do too many things though. One car you'll use the owner's manual for:

The smart key only needs to stay in your pocket...

Sunroof is really nice to have on an evening with good weather:

Last edited by GTO : 24th May 2011 at 11:25. Reason: Spell check
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Old 9th May 2011, 10:53   #8
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Great review GTO.

Since you have summed up everything with exhaustive detail, I just want to say that the S60 T6 has to be one of the best 'drivers' cars in its class today. Powerful, agile, tons of grip, superb braking, quick and smooth automatic transmission are some of the characteristics of this Swedish rocket.

On the other hand, I would never sit on the low and cramped back seat of this car. The safety features are exciting to look at on paper and may be useful in other countries, but here in India, they are just unnecessary and irritating gizmos that distract the driver and ruin the overall passenger experience. Volvo should have eradicated some of those for the Indian market and lowered the price. The S60 beats the competition in most parameters but stays way back on brand-image. Heck, I know some people who are not even aware that Volvo sells something other than commercial vehicles in India.

That said, this car will surely bring a smile on the drivers face. About the passenger...I am not so sure.

Last edited by Stratos : 9th May 2011 at 10:56.
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Old 9th May 2011, 11:23   #9
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Excellent review GTO !

Did you test the "Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake" feature ?

You are right about the safety features, even I doubt whether these "driver alert" and "auto brake" features would be useful in the Indian conditions.

Can't give you any courage award, but awarding a well deserved 5 star rating.

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Old 9th May 2011, 11:41   #10
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

The side profile looks stunning. The front and the rear - not so much.

In the past 10 years, we've had only 2 instances of sidewall of tyres ripping apart, among 3 or 4 cars we've owned in our family. But we definitely had atleast 3 incidents of batteries dying out and stranding us (mostly at home though). Atleast for us, the possibility of batteries dying out is more than sidewall of tyres splitting! The manufacturers probably know this too.

How much bootspace does a spare 16 or 17 inch wheel with tyres take up? If I were to buy a BMW 3 series or a Volvo S60, I will definitely be buying a spare wheel and will be keeping it in the boot. Going by my statistics, I should probably buy a spare battery too!

Last edited by smartcat : 9th May 2011 at 11:43.
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Old 9th May 2011, 11:53   #11
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Superbly detailed review! Accounting for all things Indian that all auto-mags tend to forget when reviewing a car for India!

Really impressed by the fact that this is fast yet driveable. Makes more sense than the toy cars good only for weekend highway getaways. Though the efficiency (or lack of it) may damp the excitement a bit. Unless ones company or business pays for it, petrol is precious for anyone!

Speaking of the missing spare, in my experience if running hard MRFs, I'd risk a trip without a spare or with a flat spare. Never otherwise. Cost is certainly not the issue, so what was Volvo thinking? Weight? Or trying to bump up the miniscule boot-space?
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:07   #12
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Thanks for the great review GTO. I have driven some of the volvo cars in US and have always loved the overall dynamics of the car. However they had always been left wanting in the overall design/looks dept with traces of there heavy vehicle ancestry pouring into the design. But this latest design of S60 surely is the best till date in my opinion. It looks good from all angles. The front is probably little over done but no complaints.

Volvos surely have a good brand recall in terms of luxury bus service. Hopefully that helps them positively in building up a image in the premium car segment as well.
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:13   #13
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Smile Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Very good review GTO. Never knew Volvo S60 has so much of good things in its sleeve.

About the Japanese - European Usability thing :
Being a software usability guy, I can say both cultures have different views. Europeans generally follow simple usability stuff (come out - following the same way as you get in). Don't make me think.

Where as Japanese have different view - Give more than one option. Give me more. Usability experts feel that's one reason why iPhone did not take off well during its launch in Japan, was due to the simplified nature of iPhone's user experience. But the story is totally different now. :-)

Last edited by rajeshsundaram : 9th May 2011 at 12:21. Reason: re-wrote the japanese part ..
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:17   #14
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Great review GTO as usual. The car looks fabulous and I love this colour.
Is the back seat really that bad? Because the other day I was watching SVP on the C&B show and he seemed quite happy with the back seat of the S60. How does it fare vs the BMW 3 series on that front?
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Old 9th May 2011, 12:18   #15
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Default Re: Volvo S60 (304 BHP AWD) : Test Drive & Review

Fantastic review!! Seems like a blast to drive. I love the rear, and rear 3/4th view. Front not so much, but this car still manages to look good overall. Not having a spare tyre is shocking!!!
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