Test drive of the Volvo S60 T6 2019 in Santa Monica

Volvo Car today is “Made by Sweden”, “Owned by Geely” and for this all new S60 sedan, is “Manufactured in America”.

Yes, Volvo is now truly a global brand with its products sold across the globe and moving tenaciously into all segments lead by German car brands, especially BMW, Benz and Audi.

Volvo, the premium car brand was re-born with Geelys’ USD11 billion investment a few years ago, and has been paid back completely with the sales success of the Volvo XC90 SUV.

Now comes a brand new factory in Charleston, South Carolina where the new S60 will be built for the global market, which is why it was test driven in America. At this global introduction, it was presented in two variants.

A Polestar Engineered T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid with upgrades to the car’s wheels, brakes, suspension and engine control unit, boosting the S60 T8 combined output to an impressive 415hp.

It delivers a 0-100km/h acceleration time of just 4.3 seconds and has a governed top speed like German supercars at 155mph.

Also test driven was the S60 T6 that Volvo says will accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 5.3 seconds, making it as fast as the BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, VW Arteon and Lexus IS.

This S60 T6 is confirmed for Malaysia in the third quarter of 2019.

Handsome looks

Yes, the S60 is very angular with defining lines that set it apart from the impressive S80.

It is very well proportioned and sits with heft and “anger” on the road – “anger” as it has a very aggressive nose treatment and a side profile that indicates its true intentions as a sports sedan that should not be taken lightly.

The S60 was designed by a team led by a woman designer formerly from Bentley Motors, who stressed the need for an aggressive looking Volvo.

Living quarters

Like the rest of the new Volvo family, the cabin of the S60 is stylish, modern, simple in execution yet expensive in finger touch and feel.

Like the all new XC60, this cabin follows some of its lines and materials used, but on closer inspection, the design is different in many ways.

The signature “Volvo control panel” tablet sits in the centre console where the Volvo Cars’ Sensus Connect infotainment system is fully compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto and 4G, and keeps drivers connected at all times.

The intuitive control is a tablet-style touch screen interface that combines car functions, navigation, connected services and in-car entertainment apps.

The S60 uses the latest version of Volvo’s Sensus Connect infotainment system, with standard Apple CarPlay/Android Auto and a built-in Wi-Fi hotspot.

The 9.0-inch portrait-oriented touchscreen and four-tile main menu are familiar from other recent Volvos.

The infotainment system in the S60 boasts a number of improvements, including 50% greater processing power, faster startup, backup camera access, navigation recalculation, and better voice control – all this for improved driver interaction.

The seats are comfortable and easy for most torso sizes and rear comfort for three average adults will be no issue as this Volvo S60 is a smidgen larger than the current BMW 3-Series (one inch longer) and also Audi A4 (two inches longer).

The 96-millimetre new wheelbase stretch benefits rear seat legroom, which is now class competitive. Headroom also improves, especially in the rear.

The four-zone climate control offers good cooling for front and rear passengers, while the Bowers & Wilkins stereo is still one of the best premium systems in the business.

The drive

The previous Volvo S60 T6 came with a 2.0L Drive-E engine that produced an impressive 306bhp and a smooth 400Nm of torque. The 0-100km/h sprint was completed in a just 5.9 seconds with a governed top speed of 230km/h.

It was quick on the drive but slow in its sales as it did not capture the imagination of Malaysian premium car buyers who leaned more towards the 3-Series and C-Class.

However, Malaysian buyers will likely lean towards the S60, not just for its impressive performance but for its dynamic and aural delivery.

On the test drive that started in morning traffic, the S60 was composed on the road and its well insulated cabin kept the Santa Monica traffic noise away so the tunes being delivered by the Bowers & Wilkins could be enjoyed.

Things were equally brilliant along winding country roads and up the hills, where the S60 eagerly attacked turn after turn with its 17-inch low profile tires working hard and a very exciting engine note coning from under the bonnet.

The steering was well-weighted and communicative and the S60 felt quite agile, despite having three adults inside and a hearty breakfast consumed an hour earlier.

The adaptive suspension was well-controlled. It was not upset by mid-corner bumps and was never jiggly at low speeds on the badly maintained mountain roads. The suspension was firm but well damped and comfortable.

The 8-speed automatic got the job done and if you wanted more action, we could use the paddle shifters to shift faster and get more grunt from the engine.

What we thought

So, there is a lot to like about the new S60. It is certainly more dynamic than its predecessor and is the sportiest model in the range.

From our test drive, the S60 T6 is a genuine rival to the segment leaders in the premium sports sedan class but possibly the biggest hurdle will be actually getting the people into the showroom to take it for a test drive to really appreciate its dynamics and features.

Final word

Like all other new Volvo models on sale today, the S60 will impress at showroom level with its looks, features, safety equipment and performance figures.

The only niggling issue to prevent it from being a segment bestseller is the Malaysian buying perception of the Volvo brand against its German rivals.

This is taking time and Volvo with Geely funding has the time. It’s just that Malaysian buyers will be missing out on a premium, fun experience.

Volvo S60 T6 Specifications

Engine: 16v DOHC Petrol Turbocharged

Capacity: 1969cc

Transmission: 8-speed Geartronic

Max power: 316hp

Max torque: 395Nm

0-100km/h: 5.3 seconds

Top speed: 235km/h

Price: TBA

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