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2018 CarWale Track Day: Volvo S60 vs Audi S5

Introduction

Both these cars produce in excess of 300 horses and have AWD to provide immense traction. The Audi S5, in fact, has all the ingredients to excel here. A powerful 3.0 litre V6 engine, a quick gearbox and AWD are only some among a long list of features packed into the German car. The Volvo’s engine, on the other hand, displaces just 2.0 litres and has four pots instead of six on the Audi. But the numbers it produces are mind boggling. It makes more power than the Audi, almost as much torque and is nearly 200kg lighter. Will it be an easy victory for the Volvo then? Let's find out.

What makes them special?

Both these cars are sportier versions of their standard siblings. Apart from cosmetic upgrades they both get far more powerful motors and better suspension. The Audi S5 is powered by a turbocharged V6 petrol motor good for 349bhp and you get firmer suspension as compared to the A5 for better body control too. You also get fancier rims and some cosmetic additions to tell your neighbours that you are driving something more special than the standard car. But out on track these things don’t really matter. Instead the punchy engine, intelligent Quattro system and the firmer suspension should help it perform well. 

Another important thing to note is that whereas the Audi S5 is just a faster version of the A5, the Volvo S60 Polestar is a whole different beast as compared to the standard machine. As soon as you lay your eyes on the Polestar it comes across as more dramatic, thanks to the signature blue colour and massive 20 inch rims shod with sticky Michelin rubber. The low slung body kit just adds to the drama. But, this car isn’t just a cosmetic upgrade. The Polestar’s body shell is 80% stiffer and the suspension and brakes are completely different too. You also get adjustable dampers which the S5 doesn’t get. Then there is the engine which is special thanks to the amount of tech it has. A few years ago, Volvo decided that downsizing is the way forward and swore it won’t make engines displacing in excess of 2.0 litres and four cylinders. So to make the Polestar a straight-line rocket, Volvo has supercharged and turbocharged the 2.0 litre motor which helps it produce a scarcely believable 367bhp! That’s 18bhp more than the Audi, which has a 3.0-litre V6!

What I think it can do?

Exiting the pits, my first impression of the Volvo is of a car that feels stiff, committed and extremely fast. The engine too has a strong surge around 3000rpm which just makes it feel extremely sporty. Then there is the AWD system, which combined with the sticky Michelin rubber gives it a leech-like grip, stability and composure. All this served to give me much confidence, despite this being my first time inside a Volvo S60. But the main problem with this particular model of the Polestar were the brakes which were well past their best. They were slowing down the car enough, but they were wobbling and didn’t give me any assurance, especially in corners like C4 or C8, where braking hard and as late as possible is very important. Overall the Volvo felt fast, agile and fun, but the brakes were going to be a question mark especially when Rayomand will push to set a lap time.

With the Audi there aren't such issues and where the S60 felt stiff and more committed the S5 is a bit of a softy in comparison. It rolls more into corners but not overtly so and the 3.0-litre V6 engine has an extremely linear power delivery which just makes going faster easier. Then there were the brakes which were strong and effective. When you push the S5, it just envelopes around you, giving you loads of confidence to go fast easily. If I had to fault the S5, then it has to be in terms of weight. It doesn't feel as light footed as the Volvo, especially in faster corners like C1 and tight bends like C10. 

Track test

Rayomand felt pretty much the same about the both these cars. He wasn’t surprised at all by the fact that the Volvo, despite the wobbly brakes set a faster lap time albeit by a slender margin. This he felt, was mainly because the Volvo rolled less into corners and it was able to carry more corner speed through the faster bends. This feeling was confirmed by the apex speed at turn 7 which was a massive 6 kmph faster than the Audi. But the Volvo also tends to understeer more which hurt its corner exits speeds, as you have to wait a bit longer before you mash the throttle. The exit speed at C1 confirms this, with the Audi possessing a 3 kmph advantage as you can get on the power earlier. 

Despite being down on power, the S5’s motor felt stronger across the rev range and it managed a much higher stop speed too. The S5 also has more neutral handling manners. It is very predictable with minimal understeer and a huge amount of traction. The brakes performed really well too and remained fade free despite pushing hard for over three laps.  

Final Words

 

Of the two cars, the Volvo S60 Polestar set a faster lap time, but both Rayomand and I were of the opinion that the Audi S5 felt the better car of the two. Its neutral handling manners, eager engine, sweet V6 sound track, strong brakes and huge mechanical grip just made it feel better when we were really going for it. Make no mistake, the Volvo S60 Polestar is an incredible machine. But the fact that the brakes were in a poor state, never really gave us the confidence to push its limits. With better brakes the S60 Polestar could have posted an even quicker lap time and might just have won this test.


Pictures by Kapil Angane and Kaustubh Gandhi


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Volvo S60 Price in India

CityOn-Road Prices
Hyderabad₹ 46.28 Lakhs onwards
Chennai₹ 47.09 Lakhs onwards
Mumbai₹ 49.65 Lakhs onwards
New Delhi₹ 46.75 Lakhs onwards
Kolkata₹ 44.28 Lakhs onwards
Bangalore₹ 51.58 Lakhs onwards
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