Why would I buy one?
- Swedish elegance
- Silent engine, good on-road dynamics
- Comfortable and practical cabin, lots of safety tech
Why would I avoid it?
- Single powertrain option
- No diesel trim on offer
- Sparse dealer network
This new-generation Volvo S60 has come in after a long gap with the discontinuation of its second-gen. The carmaker has sort of made up for this delay, as this next-gen sedan gets a major overhaul in its latest avatar. It might not be an attention magnet, but it’s a big step up from its older design. Yet, it’s very much in line with other Volvo models and gets a spacious cabin for four that’s packed with so much of new tech. And, with a sorted ride and suspension for our road conditions, it’s quite hassle-free as well. Also, it would have been good to have a diesel option for great mile-munching capabilities. Still, this petrol engine-gearbox is adequate enough for the most part. We still think Volvo might surprise us with a wider selection of engines upon its launch in March 2021.
Engine and Performance
Volvo is offering this S60 with a single petrol only option. And the engine we are talking about here is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder unit mated to an eight-speed automatic gearbox. Volvo says these four-cylinder powertrains reduce weight over the front wheels and improve agility and responsiveness to driving inputs. Well, the T8 plug-in hybrid version is unlikely to be launched in our country in the near future.
What we get is the T4 Inscription trim powered by this 1,969cc engine that pumps out 190bhp of power and 300Nm of torque. It’s a silent engine, and not just on the move, but even at start-up or idling, you can hardly hear its noise. Only when the tacho needle goes beyond the 3,000rpm mark is when you can hear the engine's whirring sound. But it will never get very prominent if you keep the revs below this mark. Which, for that matter, is quite easy as there's loads of torque available even when you can cleanly rev through the power band till its 6,500rpm redline.
Then, there’s the option of choosing between four driving modes. There's Eco, Comfort, Dynamic, and Individual to suit your driving needs. This adjustable drive mode setting alters the throttle response, with it getting from comfortable to a sportier setting as you toggle between the modes. The Eco mode, as the name suggests, shifts gears early and at low revs in favour of fuel efficiency. But then the throttle response gets sharper as you move from comfort to dynamic. The gear shifts even hold on for long till the tacho needle crosses the 4,000rpm mark. Here you can also feel some quick progress being made. Power delivery remains instantaneous and very linear without any delay.
Even the gearshifts are quick and remain pretty seamless, not letting you feel any jerks. Then there's the option of putting it in the manual mode and taking control. This is when you do feel the need of paddle-shifters behind the steering wheel. These would have added to the fun and convenience. But then, there’s ample of torque to pull away from traffic or make a quick sprint to overtake. The car calmly cruises along the highway at triple-digit speeds without even making you feel the need to make gear changes. It sits nicely in a higher gear and drops a gear or two quickly when you put the pedal to the metal.
Ride and Handling
The S60 is also pretty impressive when it comes to ride and handling. It underpins Volvo’s new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform like the XC40 SUV. The carmaker has replaced the older Ford derived chassis for this new one. It’s equipped with a double wishbone front suspension and an integrally-linked rear axle. Gladly, its suspension is nicely tuned for our road conditions. The only things one will have to be careful about are bigger speed breakers and deeper potholes. But that's something one has to anyway be cautious of with every car that comes with a long wheelbase. Otherwise, it does a commendable job of isolating the occupants from the road undulations and noises in the cabin. Even the jolts are absorbed well and never did we have any problems while traversing broken road sections and diversions.
Furthermore, just about a little less than three turns lock-to-lock isn't bad for this lengthy sedan. And it’s very quick, so parking and going about in the city is no hassle. The steering is quite communicative too and well-weighted. It plays an important role in keeping the driver engaged and have fun even when pushing the car hard around bends or corners. It remains planted and makes the driving experience enjoyable yet secure, thanks to the sticky tyres and confidence-inspiring brakes.
Interior Space and Quality
Its interior layout feels way better than the previous ones which looked cluttered with many buttons. This one is minimalistic with a nice big touchscreen. Volvo is offering a choice of upholstery options including leather blond or charcoal, or maroon brown paired with a charcoal interior. Interestingly, the inlays can also be opted for in either linear lime or driftwood. The highlight is a metallic trim running alongside the dashboard which is in contrast with the interior. One more thing worth mentioning is the generous use of leather on the dash and door pads.
The space, quality, and comfort are one of the best you can expect in this segment. Then, all touchpoints are without any hard material and are in fact of high quality to give that nice premium feel. Seat ergonomics are spot on as well. A perfect driver's position can be easily attained thanks to electrically adjustable seats with memory. It even gets a four-way adjustable lumbar support and these seats are quite supportive as they hug you in the right places. What's more, even the passenger seats are power-adjustable and your co-passenger will not hate you for having the utmost comfort only for yourself.
Things in the second row are a bit different owing to the fact that you can't just slide into these back seats and sit very low. But then, there's enough space inside, the seat back is adequately reclined, there's satisfactory thigh support, and a good view of the surroundings. This means that one will be a happy passenger in this space. Still, we recommend you stick to two occupants in these seats as the third person will not be comfortable due to the high hump on the centre floorboard due to the transmission tunnel. The black interior limits the sense of space inside, but then a large panoramic roof adds to the sense of room and makes it feel like quite an airy place.
Now, if you take a look at the boot space, it’s fairly deep at 442-litreswhich will fit in two-three big bags quite easily. But it's important that they are flat in nature. Taller bags or stacking luggage vertically is anyway a little difficult in sedans. And as long as you can lay them flat, you can easily pack in quite a lot of your weekend luggage.
Features and Equipment
What I've always admired Volvo for is that they load their cars with many features as standard. This is quite commendable knowing many manufacturers back here charge money for those as optional extras. The most prominent update is the vertically-oriented nine-inch touchscreen system flanked by vertical air-con vents. It supports Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, is nice to use, responsive and with good feedback. It’s connected to a Harman Kardon sound system to take care of all your infotainment needs.
Another update that owners will like is that the S60 gets a fully digital 12.3-inch instrument panel. It displays a chunk load of data, which is easy to read. Same goes for the main display. Other USPs include a panoramic sunroof, wireless smartphone charger, and a four-zone climate control system amongst many others. Another interesting thing is the waterproof key in addition to the standard remote key. Then, Volvo is additionally offering its new Care key in orange. One can set a maximum speed of the car before handing this key over to their loved ones. Pretty neat!
When it comes to safety, there's no doubt Volvo has been in the forefront to come up with new tech. And this one is also no less to be packed with a lot of safety equipment. It indeed is more feature-rich than its predecessor and now gets a plethora of advanced safety and driver assistance systems. Apart from the usual front and side airbags, TPMS, distance alert, reverse camera and park assist, it gets collision mitigation support and lane-keeping aid as well. Then, there's adaptive cruise control and even pilot assist which provides gentle steering support to keep the car in its lane. And if you still need more assurance, this sedan has already received the highest five-star safety rating from Euro-NCAP crash testing authorities.
This is a great automobile to have. It's a fast sedan, quite practical, good to drive, packed with features, and has got your back with all its safety tech. The Volvo S60 will also match its rivals in pace, practicality, everyday usability, and also those weekend drives. The latter will not just be fun in the S60, but fast and comfortable ones too.
What's its price you may ask? Well, we will all have to wait till next year when the official pricing is announced. Still, to give you an idea, we expect the sedan to be slotted in the Rs 35-40 lakh price bracket. If they manage to undercut its rivals, it most certainly can be a lucrative option for prospective buyers to consider. It will go up against the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class, the upcoming Audi A4 facelift, and even the Jaguar XE when launched.
And still, if the question is - would I chose this one over its German equivalents? Yes, I think I most probably will!
Pictures by Kapil Angane