The Volvo S60 is available with a smooth turbo-petrol or frugal turbo-diesel powerplant.
The Volvo S60 is available with a smooth turbo-petrol or frugal turbo-diesel powerplant. Contributed

Volvo breaks out of the box

THERE was no door knocking from people in pristine white shirts with ties and children in tow.

Nor did I start shaking maracas while expanding my wardrobe to include sequins and ruffle-front shirts.

Yet I'm converted. I've changed teams. I'm a Volvo fan.

It started with the new range of sports utility vehicles, the awesome little C30 and now the S60 sedan.

The Volvo of old has been banished. Square, ugly lines are gone, and the stigma is also being left behind.

Pre-2004 Toyota Camry drivers have since taken the mantle as the bane of all other motorists with their hats on the parcel shelf and no hint of peripheral awareness.

This new sedan is another nail in the bloody Volvo coffin. It's still safe (actually the safest Volvo ever produced), but it also presents as a good value option in the prestige category.

Volvo is taking on the German big guns with this four-door offering, now available in petrol and diesel all-wheel drive guise. A two-wheel drive derivative will arrive in the coming months to complete the range.


This is probably the most appealing cabin we've seen in the modern Volvo family.

Like all of the marques nowadays there is a familiar brand theme, although this looks more chic than anything else in the range with refined finishes, soft-touch materials across the dash and doors, brushed aluminium facia (so much better than the strange woodgrain effect in the SUVs) and chrome highlights.

The leather seats are plush and soft, perhaps too soft, yet this is pivotal in Volvo gunning for opulence over performance.

Drivers have electric seat adjustment and there is rake and reach control over the steering wheel. Two cup holders are well positioned in the front console and there are some handy storage areas in the doors.

First impressions of the cabin resonated with space. The S60 actually feels like a much bigger car than its segment, but park it next to a key competitor and there's little to separate them.

Yet it still feels less confined with better rear legroom. Four adults would appreciate the S60's refined road manners over a long journey.

Three across the back seat would be less appealing.

The raked roofline may also cause some issues for taller passengers.

On the road

They call this the most dynamic Volvo ever. And it's hard to argue.

While the S60 doesn't quite have the driveability of the BMW 3 Series or overall polish of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, it's not far off.

We sampled both the oil-burner as well as the turbo-petrol and the pair shone for their ease of operation.

The more potent petrol was the winner in terms of smoother performance but buyers of the diesel won't be disappointed either.

Cruising is what the S60 does best. Under just about all circumstances it feels well behaved and surefooted, courtesy of the all-wheel drive technology.

Get in the mood for pace and a few issues chink the armour.

The six-speed automatic struggles to find the right cog when you stretch your right ankle and it's begging for paddle shifters when you drop it into tiptronic mode.

Performance still remains impressive and both powerplants are strong and willing, yet it's the petrol that is by far the quickest and that's backed by a 0-100kmh sprint time of just over six seconds.

The diesel is no dog though, and it's especially punchy through the mid-range.

On the option list is the Four-C chassis, which enables you to change the suspension for sportier performance, but that sets you back an extra $4175.

One thing you have behind the wheel of the S60 is peace of mind. There's an optional pedestrian detection function that scans the road ahead and brakes itself if the driver fails to respond to warnings.

Then there is City Safety (that is standard), which automatically avoids low speed impacts up to 30kmh.

Plus there are a range of other cool safety extras that are worthwhile considering.

What do you get?

There is more safety gear than Abba hits, incorporating roll-over protection, stability control, traction control and a heap of airbags.

Rain-sensing wipers, cruise control, leather seats, power driver's seat, trip computer, audio with colour screen, Bluetooth/USB connectivity and rear parking sensors are among standard equipment, though you have to dig into your pocket to get all the smart extras.

That pedestrian safety function is available with radar cruise control for $4175. The blind spot warning system costs $1275 while the lane departure warning that detects when you are heading for the white lines costs $2075.

Other gear on the options list are sunroof ($2650), park assist front ($325), sat nav ($4175), power front passenger seat ($2075) and grocery bag holder ($200).

You don't get a spare tyre – just a repair kit.

Other options

There are some German big guns among the competition, including the BMW 323i Exclusive ($76,900) or 320d ($59,700), Mercedes-Benz C-Class C300 ($90,850) or C220 CDI ($62,170), Audi A4 3.2 FSI Quattro ($91,000) or 2.0 TDI ($55,400) and the Japanese Lexus IS350 Prestige ($64,800).


There is good space for the executive or family.

The boot space is reasonable, with a handy lever in the rear for easy rear seat back drop.

Access to the child seat points is easy on the back parcel shelf and you get useful storage spaces in all four doors.

Running costs

Looking for frugal performance, the diesel is the pick. Consumption is a miserly 7.1 litres for every 100 kilometres.

Opt for the turbo-petrol and it climbs by three litres.

Insurance premiums are aided by the city safety function so shouldn't be prohibitive as long as the drivers on the policy of the petrol model aren't too young.

Funky factor

Like a few other styling changes we've seen recently, the S60 looks more coupe-like than sedan.

This is a good-looking machine, boasting the usual airs and graces of Volvo but with a handy injection of athleticism.

The low-down

While the Germans may not be quaking in their boots, they would be having a long look in the rear view mirror.

Even adding a few of the options you'll come in a fair way under the competition in terms of equipment and power.

A Volvo with impressive equipment and curves to rival a supermodel. I'm born-again.


Model: Volvo S60 T6.

Details: Four-door all-wheel drive compact sedan.

Engine: Six-cylinder, 24 valve DOHC turbocharged petrol generating maximum power of 224kW @ 5600rpm and peak torque of 440Nm @ 2100 - 4200rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sport mode and sequential shift.

Performance: 0-100kmh in 6.1 seconds; top speed 250kmh.

Consumption: 10.2 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 243g/km.

Bottom line: $64,950.

Model: Volvo S60 D5.

Engine: 2.4-litre twin-turbo diesel in-line five cylinder generating maximum power of 151kW @ 4000rpm and peak torque of 420Nm @ 1500 - 3250rpm.

Transmission: Six-speed automatic with sport mode and sequential shift.

Consumption: 7.1 litres/100km (combined average).

CO2: 189g/km.

Bottom line: $57,950.

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