5 0 5
Plus & Minus
Smooth drivetrain; sleek design; interior comfort
Engine a few herbs short from ideal; ride might feel a bit firm on local roads
The Wheels Verdict: What a change a generation can bring. The new S60 is a far better proposition than it was before and the prospect of keen pricing, a five-year warranty and cheaper servicing could make this a credible threat to traditional German rivals.
WHAT IS THE VOLVO S60 T5?
Volvo says it’s become an SUV company, but it hasn't completely ignored its roots either. A new generation mid-size sedan, the S60 is underpinned by the same Scalable Product Architecture that underpins its SUV-twin, the XC60. The T5 will represent the entry-level drivetrain choice in Australia, powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine.
WHY WE’RE TESTING IT
As the sedan spin-off to the 2018 Wheels Car of the Year winner (the XC60), we’d be mad not to see how good (or bad) the S60 is. It won't land in Australia until August this year, so we went to test it on Scandinavian backroads in Sweden ahead of its arrival.
VOLVO S60 T5 REVIEW
With the launch of the S60 sedan and V60 wagon in Europe this year, Volvo’s XC90 becomes, incredibly, the oldest model in the line-up. Having launched as recently as 2015, it’s still relatively shiny, but the Swedish maker has subsequently released hit after SUV hit, recording back to back Wheels COTY wins with first XC60 and then XC40.
Historically, the S60 was never all that flash as a premium sedan. A sort-of rival to the German heavy hitters like the BMW 3-Series, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and Audi A4, the Swede’s blocky steering and average ride never did trouble that trio much. It somehow managed to both underpromise and underdeliver. But how times have changed.
For starters, just look at the thing. Like the latest barrage of models led by a Thor’s hammer-inspired pair of headlights and slightly wider grille, the S60 is a sweet looking thing. Even up against the premium German triumvirate, or perhaps the Brit’s Jaguar XE, it will doubtless claim new fans. But it’ll also appease diehards, having all of the latest active driving assist tech. Volvo tends to be quite good at that sort of thing.
Newfound success for the maker is a result of Chinese owner Geely, which has entrusted Volvo with a bag of cash, and then taken a refreshingly hands-off approach. The result is a convincing suite of drivetrains, slick aesthetics and some of the latest technology across of its new models.
Step inside the new S60 and there’s a little more room from slightly teased-out dimensions, but unlike the new 3-Series which bust open its shirt as it grew, the Volvo is visually a bit gentler. The seats are comfortable and supportive, and the ergonomics are fine, except for the steering wheel which, though feeling nice in the hand, can put its buttons too close to the palms on turning. In the back is a 442L boot that’s on par with the segment and there’s plenty of storage and thoughtful touches around the cabin, much as you find in the XC60.
Dollar for dollar, Volvo Australia says it will target the equivalent German models but will add more gear, promising a suite of goodies for reasonable coin. We’d expect this T5 to enter the market at a little over $60,000, with inclusions such as the 9.0-inch infotainment system, 12.0-inch digital driver’s display, automated driving assists, heated seats front and rear and retractable rear window blinds as standard.
Underneath the T5’s bonnet is a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine, generating 184kW and 350Nm through an eight-speed automatic transmission. It lacks the punch of the turbo and supercharged T6, and certainly the mumbo of the plug-in hybrid electric ‘twin-engine’ T8, but it’s good for smooth acceleration and cruising along the highway. Volvo claims a 0-100km/h time of 6.5sec which might be possible in perfect conditions but was hampered for us by torrential Swedish rain. We were also driving the front-wheeler which hampered grip. The all-wheel-drive version that Australia is set to receive is a touch quicker and will be doubtless grippier.
We were told Swedish roads - sealed ones in spring, at least - are pretty boring. Perfectly smooth, flat and lacking much in terms of change of direction, it was hard to gauge the S60’s complete road manners. The 20-inch alloys with low profile 245/35 Pirelli P Zero rubber were planted in corners but contributed to a slightly firm ride. While not edgy on smooth Scandi bitumen, they might not roll over rough Aussie roads as smoothly. The ride and handling has moved on leaps and bounds, the steering is well weighted and natural and exterior noise isolation is impressive. It feels like a much more settled sedan and one that’s easy to live with.
Volvo Australia expects stock to arrive in August which will likely be available to customers from September. A sweetener for curious shoppers is that Volvo Australia is considering a five-year warranty and cheaper servicing, which could well elevate this premium sedan offering up the ranks over other premium makers with a three-year guarantee. And if you need more space, the incoming V60 and V60 Cross Country will be well worth a look when they arrive in late-2019.
VOLVO S60 T5 VS RIVALS
Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3-Series, Audi A4, Jaguar XE
VOLVO S60 T5 PRICE AND SPECS AUSTRALIA
Model: S60 T5 R-Design
Engine: 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol
Max power: 184kW at 5500rpm
Max torque: 350Nm at 1500-4800rpm
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic
Price: $65,000 (estimated)
On sale: August 2019
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