crankandpiston heads to Nice, France, to test the new Volvo S60 T6 and check out the company’s new engine range.[Not a valid template]
It was difficult not to be impressed by the new Concept Coupe Volvo unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show. All curves and bulges and representing a future design direction for the Swedish marque, it surely brings to an end the square-jawed dross boxes of old driven traditionally by geography teachers. It’s much the same story when we consider the new S60 saloon.
A refresh of the ‘cute’ second gen first unveiled three years ago, the 2014MY S60 is part of Volvo’s new 60 cluster (which also includes the XC60 SUV and V60 estate), a range it has called ‘the most extensive development of existing models in the company’s history’. Like its predecessor it boasts curvaceous lines, all of which though have been sharpened and given a much sportier character. The new elongated headlights and wider front grille are subtle yet striking, as are the new bonnet grooves and lower front bumper. Boasting new taillights, the rear boasts a similar tightened look, including some rather cheeky integrated dual exhaust pipes. Bedecked in Rebel Blue and sitting on rather swanky 10-spoke 18-inch alloys, it’s certainly a big improvement for what Volvo terms its ‘driver’s car.’
You’d be forgiven for muted enthusiasm on the inside, which in typical Volvo fashion – much as we found with the XC70 Polestar last year – offers nothing to get wildly excited about. Saying that, there are some neat touches. There’s useful storage space behind the floating centre console, the minimalist layout of which makes navigating the updated infotainment system a piece of the proverbial. The upholstery and leather seats have been elegantly put together, and there’s plenty of head and legroom too, front and rear. The (rebel) blue ribbon though goes to the sports leather seats, which offer not only a low driving position and good lumbar support but which are also almost impossibly comfortable. Myriad new driver assistance technologies – Lane Keeping Aid, Park Assist and Pedestrian Detection to name a few – are a saving grace, since falling asleep in the hot seat is a possibility.
A new face though is just part of the S60’s redesign, the other arguably more significant element being the 2.0-litre T6, the top tier of a new family of four-cylinder Volvo engines built around the same platform and which saves an impressive 45kg on its predecessor. Boasting both a supercharger and a turbocharger (or Superturbo), the new T6 pushes out a 302bhp and an impressive 295lb ft of torque, enough for a 5.9 second 0-100kph time. Given that a prototype of this same engine/model package also competed – and scored podiums – in the 2011 World Touring Car Championship, we’re expecting something pretty impressive around the winding mountain road of our test route in Nice, France.
At first, such proves to be the case. Good low-end torque means that the pick-up is excellent, especially on Stop/Start restart (it may focus on performance, but the S60 T6 still returns an impressive 3.9L/100km of fuel consumption). There’s an audible ‘whoompf’ too as the turbocharger kicks in at the 3500rpm mark, much sharper pick-up also making its presence felt and linear acceleration from then on getting you up to speed quickly. What is a little disappointing is the slight drop-off in pick-up in the lower gears. Though momentary, it can nevertheless spoil the momentum.