Volvo S60 – The Blind Choice!

Volvo S60 – The Blind Choice!

December 23, 2020 / 0 Comments / 148 / ROAD TEST REVIEWS
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Volvo S60 is the latest offering from the Swedish carmaker and is slated to launch in March 2021.

In the winter of 2017, I received a call from Volvo and they invited me for the Media Drive of the XC 60 to Chennai. I was super excited and went around telling everyone about it. While some reciprocated to the excitement, some were, unfortunately, hearing about Volvo cars for the first time.

That’s when I realised there is a significant difference in the way this brand is perceived compared to the German trio. Do their cars deserve more recognition in the luxury shopping space?

We drove to the Volvo S60 to Java Rain resorts, in the mystic hills of Chikmagalur to find the mysterious answer.

 

Pros:

+ An Excellent overall package of style, supreme comfort, tech and safety
+ The best Volvo we have driven to date. A serious attempt from Volvo to make it a driver-oriented car
+ Built like a submarine! The tank is too mainstream for a Volvo
+ Supremely comfortable front seats deserve a special mention. Absolutely no signs of fatigue after a long day’s drive
+ 14-speaker Harman-Kardon music system is better than some of the multiplexes. Trust me, not kidding
+ Although designs are subjective, the striking looks are a serious head-turner and screams for attention
+ Fantastic Geartronic 8-speed gearbox has a negligible lag, nill during sedate driving
+ Excellent craftsmanship of materials used in the cabin. Premium quality everywhere, Nappa leather seats are uber premium
+ Volvo believes nobody would be killed or seriously injured in an accident in Volvo
+ Pilot assist worked much better than expected on our roads
+ Fantastic illumination from the headlights lit up the road like a mini stadium

Cons:

– The ride quality is slightly firm and not the most compliant of all
– The T4 variant is capable of handling better numbers. 190 hp although adequate doesn’t do 100% justice to the car
– Limited dealer-service network is a challenge compared to the widespread network of its arch-rivals
– Paddle-shifters are sorely missed, essentials like sun blinds are surprisingly omitted
– Large tunnel at the rear is a hindrance for the 5th passenger, best suited for 4 onboard
– Touchscreen infotainment system demands too much attention from the driver and is also the not most user-friendly
– Omission of diesel engine altogether cripples buyer’s options. ~9 kmpl with 60L tank capacity translates to short cruising range
– Windows take their own sweet time to toll up/down
– Spare tyre is a temporary tyre and of course a non-alloy

 

Exterior

One glance at the Scandanavian design and the sheer opulence is jaw-dropping! The signature vertically slatted grille with the Volvo branding occupies most of the real estate in the front. If there was a competition to identify a car maker with their DRL’s there is absolutely no way you would lose it as long as it’s a Volvo, interestingly they double up as indicators. The headlight packed with Light-emitting diodes does a phenomenal job of lighting up the road ahead. The front parking sensors are effective in sensing the obstacles in close proximity. Although it would be too naive to judge a car’s luxury coefficient by the way it looks, I wouldn’t mind being judgemental. The engine bay is well insulated and the parts are sourced from various European countries. The India-specced T4 variant of Volvo S60 churns out 190 hp and 300 nm of torque. The 18” alloy wheels, however, look like they are borrowed from the 330i M Sport. In my humble opinion, the resemblance is more than acceptable. If there was 1 reason why I would pick the S60 over its rivals apart from the fact that it’s going to take me places safer, it would be the unrealistically fantastic rear design the rear lights are something that I can drool over all day and night. Dual integrated end pipes enhance the elegant and powerful impression from the rear.

Interior

Scandinavian design and Swedish craftsmanship combine to create the cabin of Volvo S60, which displays upscale materials throughout and extreme attention to detail. If the 2nd question in the same competition was to identify a car maker with their interiors, I bet you would walk away with the crown, thanks to the signature AC vents which are a bi-product of 4 zone climate control. The craftsmanship of the materials used is top-notch. Although the 9-inch infotainment which can be operated with gloves has a fantastic response to touch, it demands too much of attention from the driver and it’s not the most intuitive. I wish there were some dedicated buttons for basic controls. You get 3 upholstery colour options and 2 wooden inlays to choose from. The dashboard is wrapped in leather for the uber premium experience. The front seats of Volvo S60 are wrapped in perforated fine Nappa leather are the most comfortable I have ever been in. I would confidently honour them with the USP tag for this car. They are electrically adjustable with memory functions. You get a dead pedal which is really big.

We really loved the unconventional start/stop button with the beautifully crafted drive selector. The steering feels solid with controls for semi-autonomous driving on it. The large 12.3-inch driver display houses simple and elegant instrument cluster, something that we prefer over the new age funky designs. Read, Nissan Magnite. A very important feature to note is the speed limit of the S60 is capped at 180 kmph which aligns with the vision of the carmaker that nobody will be killed or seriously injured in a Volvo car from the year 2020. After a hard day at work, Volvo ensures you don’t worry fiddling with cables to juice up your flagship smartphone courtesy the wireless charger. The panoramic glass roof floods the cabin with light. It’s tinted to reduce glare and has a powered sunshade

Last but not the least the 14-speaker Harman Kardon music system in Volvo S60 is outstanding and I would rate it a well deserved 9.5/10, the bass, the vocals are top-notch and there is absolutely no jarring up to 90% of volume level.

The electrically operated carnivorous boot ensures airport transfers and weekend trips are something never to worry about. The temporary spare tyre is neatly tucked inside with some essentials. 

Drive

India specced T4 variant of Volvo S60 balances responsiveness with efficiency, Compact and light, this four-cylinder powertrain reduces weight over the front wheels, helping to improve agility and the way the car responds to your driving inputs. It’s simply the best Volvo we have driven to date. It’s engaging and communicates with the driver. However, it’s important to note that it’s an FWD, unlike its arch-rivals.  The S60 feels extremely planted like a magnet on the road at triple-digit speeds and the cornering at good speeds is something to write about. When you drive the Volvo S60 in a sedate and linear manner, the turbo lag is absolutely nill. But, in case you decide to get ambitious with the throttle input especially in the dynamic mode that’s when you are reminded of its slight existence. I would reiterate that It’s every minute.  

The Bavarians to a better job of pushing you back to the seat but there are a lot of power available in the midrange and the 190 horses on paper do more than just doing justice to the car is not a single moment where you feel you know the car is lacking power which is really fantastic but the biggest surprise for me in terms of the ability was the gearbox. There is a very very minute lag that you typically expect but then apart from that the gear shifts are but a smooth that’s really really commendable and there are three driving modes to choose from one is The Eco where you can extract a lot of mileage from the car it very fuel-efficient not just that the emission produced by the car is very less in Eco mode and then is the Comfort of the right balance between the Eco and the dynamic mode and Dynamic mode is where the party starts you feel the acceleration kicking in really hard and is a fantastic the steering gets pretty heavy. In fact not just in dynamic mode on the steering was a really well in the Eco and the comfort mode as well that’s something I really did not expect from a Volvo especially after the not so great experience that I had in the xc40.

The pilot assist surprisingly worked flawlessly – it sensed the speed of the car ahead of us, calibrated the speed of S60 accordingly and was turning the S60 in accordance with the lane markings.

Ride & Handling 

However, on the flip side what left us slightly unimpressed in Volvo S60 was the firm ride quality. Although the bumps wouldn’t displace you, the ride on potholes of Chikmagalur did not go unnoticed. But the fantastic front and rear seats give a serious attempt in controlling the damage.  The S60 comes to a standstill from triple-digit speeds without any melodrama. Thanks to the fantastic all discs. 

Honestly, I can’t believe I am this impressed with the driving dynamics of a Volvo. The test car returned close to 9 kmpl with mixed driving conditions, this coupled with 60L of tank capacity means you might have to refuel more often than required with a tank range of approximately 500 km. 

Safety

Volvo has set a benchmark in safety, especially with the recent example where the cars were dropped with a height of 30m to check help rescue workers understand the difficulties faced in rescue operations. Just like its larger siblings, the S60 gets a plethora of safety features at your dispersal:

 

 

Verdict

The Volvo S60 is a fantastic package. It drives pretty well considering that it’s an FWD, its a head-turner, its literally loaded with tech and more importantly, its the safest of all. Just that I felt the ride could have been slightly plusher.  However, if God grants me 1 unconditional wish, I would want Volvo to scale up their dealer and service network rapidly because for any car to sell well in India, the service network is as important as the car.

After driving it for 1,000 km, The Scandanavian beauty has left me so remarkably impressed as an overall package that If I was hunting to add an entry-level luxury sedan in my garage, I would head to the only Volvo dealer in Bangalore then the multiple outlets from the German trio or the Brit Icon. 

Shutterdrives Rating: A well deserved 9/10.

Click here to read the comprehensive review of Audi A6.

Roadtrip Diaries by Mohua Chinappa:

Road trips in a luxury sedan are the best way to carry your best song, the green wetness of nature and all along feeling the pleasure of the solitude of a car drive soak your soul.I took this drive, with my best friend after a lot of arguments about which song to listen to and which place to stop for the roadside coffee. As we drove into the winding roads of Chikmagalur, Karnataka, we blissfully left the city behind, with all its baggage. We passed by the occasional pedestrian, the fields, the cows tied together to the traditional village home pillar. This was like a prayer answered from above.

We took turns to drive.

As I rotated the unique drive button, I opened the panoramic sunroof to feel the exhilarating sensation of letting my hair down, the air on my neck and my eyes squinting with the wind. I shut my eyes with the western ghats winds hitting against my face and I must admit I was bewildered why I took so long to take this trip out. Leaving the city behind, as we entered the dusty track, the pure adrenaline rush of the fading street lights, on a weekend of staggering bar revellers, I realised, the real rush for me lies in the sight of the soft morning rays and the finality of my chosen destination.

Java Rain Resorts was the planned destination.

The quiet of the car and the clouds hanging above in my luxury sedan of Volvo turned out to be the best drive towards the end of this epic year of 2020. As I swerved smoothly into the reception of the resort, I could see the majesty of the sedan and also the resort’s magical view of the town ahead. As my baby, the smooth and sexy Volvo, meandered with ease into the property, I parked below the romantic spot of Java Rain Resorts, Crimson Peak. I climbed up to see the city ahead. I must admit I blew a kiss to my parked car below for the drive and the magic of the town ahead as it began slowly getting covered in clouds and my drink waiting to be drunk into the night ahead.

 

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