Man, am I out of place,’ I thought. Me in my faded jeans (and not the stylish kind either) and equally faded chequered shirt in fair Verona. ‘As if this isn’t enough, now I have to drive a Volvo. Why couldn’t it have been something more exotic?’ I complained to myself. It’s just what that country does to you, methinks. Everything just has to be red, loud and desirable. Which, I thought, a Volvo could never be. Until now.
Agreed, the ‘vibrant copper’ S60s that I sampled were not red (or loud, for that matter), but they definitely looked the part. Standing in a 16th-century structure’s courtyard and bathed in bright sunshine, the S60 certainly got more than a few admiring glances (so what if the shade looks like a derivative of the plain Volvo beige). I, for one, couldn’t believe that a Volvo can look as fetching as the S60. And that’s where Volvo’s already won the battle, I think.
The coupe-like lines of the S60 look better than any of its rivals like the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, in my opinion. But at the same, there’s no mistaking that you’re leching at a Volvo. The car’s face is full of pedestrian safety-conforming angles even though it registers on the sportier end of the styling spectrum, almost aggressive, even. The high and canted-forward waistline provides the ends for the swooping roof, while the wheel arches are flared enough to accommodate 18-inch wheels if need be. At the rear too, a sportier version of Volvo tail-lamp design dominates, while a roof-mounted shark fin and a mini spoiler add their respective touches to the proceedings. The silver trim at the bottom of the car starts at the front and ends in a diffuser-type thingy at the back. On the inside, the S60 drips with luxury. The seats have got to be some of the best in the business, while legroom at both ends is great. For once, I used a GPS screen that actually worked which meant that getting lost was a real feat. The centre console is angled towards the driver, while the rest of the instrumentation is clear and easy to use. Looks purposeful and makes you wonder if it’s as promising to drive as it looks.
The six-speed auto‘box is seamless, though it’s just a wee bit slow when it comes to downshifting in canyon-bashing mode. Yes, you can actually do that in this car. The cars we drove came with all wheel-drive and 18-inch wheels with grippy Continental rubber. Add to that the excellent Italian roads and you have the recipe for a good time indeed. The S60 corners with great poise and high-speed stability is excellent. Even lane changes at triple-digit speeds are taken care of without any drama.
So far, the S60 is impressive, but its party trick is the Full Auto Brake system to avoid hitting pedestrians and other vehicles. Essentially, what the system does is, apply full braking force if it detects a pedestrian, a vehicle, a pole or some such thing in your way. Up to 35 kph, it comes to a complete halt, as we tested it first-hand on Bob the dummy. Repeatedly, we drove at Bob between 35-40 kph and every time, the car came to a halt without hitting Bob. This system, which uses a radar in the front grille and a camera mounted near the inside rear view mirror, also works in conjunction with the Adaptive Cruise Control to maintain a constant distance at high or low speeds from the vehicle in front of you. Long story short, all if it works very well. Will we get it in India? Well, we’ll have to wait and see.
The same goes for pricing and variant options. At the time of going to press, the S60 is still to undergo the process of homologation, but it won’t be too long before we know, so watch this space. With the launch of the XC60 followed by the S60, Volvo seems to be shifting into a higher gear in India and a promising one at that. That Volvo makes the safest cars in the world is common knowledge and with the S60, they’ve fused safe with stylish. Sounds like they’re on to something and people better take notice.
Volvo S60 D5/T6
Displacement: 2400cc, I-5 / 2953cc, I-6
Max power: 205 bhp@4000 rpm / 304 bhp@5600 rpm
Max torque: 42 kgm@1500-3240 rpm / 44.86 kgm@2100-4200 rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic
Type: Power-assisted rack and pinion steering
Turning circle: 11.3 m
Front: McPherson struts with hydraulic shock absorbers
Rear: Independent suspension with hydraulic shock absorbers
BRAKES (front and rear): Discs with ABS and EBD as standard
Front: 300-336 mm ventilated discs
Rear: 302 mm discs
ABS: Standard with EBD and ESP
L/W/H: 4628/2097/1484 mm
Wheelbase: 2776 mm
Kerb weight: 2110 kg / 2220 kg
Fuel tank: 67.5 litres
PERFORMANCE (All figures claimed by manufacturer)
0-100 kph: 7.8 sec / 6.5 sec
Top speed: 230 kph / 250 kph