The Scandinavian mid-sized luxury sedan remains a curiosity to many. Volvo’s S60 is far from the first stop for premium badge hunters. But as EFTM discovered recently there’s little to moan about this innovative Swedish alternative to the big German three. EFTM recently took possession of the Volvo S60 T5, dressed in an attractive R-Design suit and the limited edition race-track inspired Volvo T6 S60 Polestar.
The 10 Minute Test Drive
The Volvo S60 interior is a simple yet well-groomed, luxurious place to be. An excellent 7’’ colour screen beams bright and is controlled by a smallish rotary dial control knob. The centre console control hub resembles a telephone dial pad framed by more buttons for climate control and other features. If you find a more comfortable seat than what is found in any Volvo then I’d like to know about it. Even with the aggressively contoured R-Design or Polestar sports seats you can be assured of a heavenly dose of leather comfort, think 10-ply tissue.
Everything about the dash layout indicates Volvo was determined to cut down on clutter and other unnecessary design elements, it’s clean and simple. But perhaps disappointingly irrespective of what S60 model you invest in, as you climb the range the expected lavish appointments are limited to only minor details. One example is the Nutbuck leather with blue stitching on the Polestar flyer, unfortunately there’s a bit of sameness to every variants interior.
The instrument cluster gives the boot to the classic analogue look, with a fully digital and customisable display.
Our time was spent behind the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine and 3.0-litre six-cylinder inline T6 with Polestar engine software, enhanced turbo and All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) thrown in for good measure.
Although poles apart the first option is hardly an underperformer. With an eight-speed transmission the smaller engine has a significant spring to it, reaching highway speeds in 6.3 seconds. However from the driver’s seat it doesn’t feel as wiling as BMW’s 328i even though the figures suggest it should.
The Polestar makeover for the standard T6 engine transforms an otherwise sedate looking luxury sedan into an undercover rocket. Rolling acceleration is where the Polestar comes into its own with a wave of torque sending the exclusively blue Polestar shooting off into the distance. There are more blistering performance cars out there, but if you want to sit alongside a HSV or FPV and not feel completely outdone this is the car for you. Plus at least you know they’re as rare as hen’s teeth with only 50 allocated to Australia so far.
Both models handle admirably, with predictable well-honed road manners. The Polestar is obviously a better handling package with a host of suspension upgrades including two-way adjustable shock absorbers, which incidentally you need to adjust manually. The S60 doesn’t handle crappy roads all that well, but nor do BMW, Audi or Mercedes.
Ins And Outs
Let’s start with the T5. The 2.0-litre direct-injection four-cylinder, 16 valve DOCH turbocharged petrol engine is matched to an 8–speed adaptive Geartronic transmission with sports mode. This set up produces figures of 180kW @ 5500rpm and 350Nm @ 1500-4800rpm. With the R-Design package you score extra bling such as diamond-cut dark grey alloy wheels, R-Design sport seats, body kit, wing mirrors and rear spoiler, LED Daytime Running Lights, Active Bending Bi-xenon head lights and dual exhaust tailpipes.
Active Bending lights really are cool, it’s remarkable to witness the high-beam remain on without sending oncoming traffic into a tizz. Sensors send the light beam shooting all over the road and surrounds, illumining dark spots yet diverting light away from approaching light sources. Tech at its best.
The Polestar engine is a larger capacity 3.0-litre inline six-cylinder with 257kW @ 5700rpm and 500Nm @ 3000-4750rpm. You lose two cogs on the T6 Polestar which instead is equipped with a six-speed Adaptive Geartronic with sports mode and gearshift paddles.
Polestar exclusive features include a 2.5’’ stainless steel exhaust with 3.5’’ dual tailpipes, Brembo brakes, 19’’ Polestar graphite alloy wheels and substantial suspension upgrades.
Both S60’s feature a ludicrously placed temporary spare wheel, it just sits strapped on the floor of the boot. One of the more random things I’ve seen in a car, you’d literally have to remove it to use the boot.
A launch control feature is fitted which operates basically in the same way as the formidable Nissan GT-R, minus the severe neck snapping effect. That damn GT-R has altered my perception of speed forever, the Volvo system sees 100km/h arrive in 4.9 seconds. You simply turn off the traction control, stomp on the brake, apply the throttle to the floor and let the engine and turbo spool up to 2000rpm and let go. This is the only time I felt the performance Volvo had gone down in my estimations, it didn’t feel all that quick at least from the driver’s seat.
Volvo is very heavy on safety technology, as it should be. But in my view most of it is either way too intrusive, annoying or simply gimmicky. If you really need a red light glowing at varying degrees of intensity to warn you about tail-gating then should you even hold a licence? If it takes the most shocking series of alert tones and lights I’ve seen go off in a car to warn of an impending collision then again what are you doing, updating Facebook?
One feature I found handy was road sign recognition, if equipped the S60 can read speed signs. It sounds dubious, but it really works. Never have I been more conscious of how many speed signs are actually around, the system reads them accurately at least 95 percent of the time. It can’t seem to read the variable electronic speed signs on Sydney’s motorways nor can it see around the odd foliage obscured sign. But hey, still pretty innovative right?
The Manufacture’s List Price (MLP) of a base Volvo S60 T5 starts at $63,890. The as-tested Volvo S60 T5 R-Design was $70,990. Options fitted included the Driver Support Pack. Our Volvo T6 Polestar was MLP $99,950 with no options fitted.
Fuel economy on the T5 is rated at 6.4L/100km, I tended to draw closer to 8.0L. The performance edge of the Polestar sees the figure blow out to 10.2L/100km, remarkably I almost equaled that at 10.4L.
EFTM Rubber Stamp
Volvo owners have always been the butt of jokes, I’m not sure why? Perhaps because in years gone by they had about as much dynamic flair as a tombstone. These days Volvo offers viable, economical, good-looking alternatives to the traditional German gang. The T5 R-Design is a sophisticated, clever piece of engineering excellence. The S60 T6 Polestar makes you feel like Scott McLaughlin minus two cylinders. Both of the Volvo S60’s tested here score the EFTM Credit Rubber Stamp of approval.
Trev is a Technology Commentator, Dad, Speaker and Rev Head.
He produces and hosts two popular podcasts, EFTM and Two Blokes Talking Tech. He also appears on over 50 radio stations across Australia weekly, and is the resident Tech Expert on Channel 9’s Today Show each day and appears regularly on A Current Affair.
Father of three, he is often found down in his Man Cave.