Issues also strike with the new eight-speed automatic gearbox: shifts, though smooth, could perhaps be a lick faster in a ‘driver’s car’, and the insistence of the system to wait for a ‘safe rpm’ level before downshifting can cause problems, especially on these tight winding country roads. A front-wheel drive configuration doesn’t help matters either, despite a next generation traction control system that uses wheel sensors to harness power more directly from the injectors directly. Chuck the Volvo S60 into a corner at the limit (normally one gear higher than you’d like) and the result is an armful of understeer, given the extra speed that’s been taken in.
What’s become apparent early on is that the ‘sportiness’ of the S60 is questionable. Even the sensation of speed is muted, thanks to a strained noise from the four-cylinders under heavy acceleration, and you’ll be hard pressed to believe you’re sitting on more than 300 harnessed stallions.
That’s not to say though there isn’t any dynamism to the S60. The steering for instance is beautifully weighted, providing just enough give that you won’t rip your shoulders from their sockets during tight cornering but keeping you well connected to the front wheels throughout. Trace amounts of lean are batted aside by a low centre of gravity and good balance from the rear wheels. And the brakes, though initially a little difficult to find the balance, offer good amounts of stopping power and a reasonable amount of travel through the pedal. Take the S60 for a spin about the tight and twisting turns (easily do-able thanks to good ride comfort and excellent cabin acoustics) and you’ll be surprised just how entertaining the experience can be.
Yes, there are a few rough edges to the Volvo S60’s new look, a momentary drop-off in power in the lower gears and a nannying gearbox amongst the key offenders. That said, it’s an impressive display from the new Volvo 60 family and the new modular engine platform. While the Volvo may not boast the same dynamism as a BMW 3 Series (or 4 Series come to that) or the same luxurious veneer of a Mercedes-Benz C350, it’s a big step forward from the Scandinavian corner. Even if it doesn’t yet put the Concept Coupe in the shadows.
|Engine:||In-line 4-cyl / turbocharged / supercharged / 1969cc|
|Power:||302bhp @ 5700rpm|
|Torque:||295lb ft @ 2100-4500rpm|
|Transmission:||Eight-speed automatic AW TG-81SC / front-wheel drive|
|Front suspension:||McPherson Strut / Coil Springs / Hydraulic Shock Absorbers / Stabilizer Bar|
|Rear suspension:||Independent Suspension with Coil Springs / Hydraulic Shock Absorbers / Stabilizer Bar|
|Brakes:||300mm (front) / 302mm (rear) / Antilock Braking System (ABS) / Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD) / Electronic Brake Assistance (EBA)|