Volvo S60 First Drive Review
It’s been a while since Volvo has made any noise in India, but we can hear them loud and clear right now. There’s a new S60 in town, and it is launching here next year. This is the third generation of the S60, and is now based on the new SPA platform that is shared with a number of other Volvos on sale in India. The S60 is an entry level luxury sedan, rivalling the likes of the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE. Interestingly, this was the first model from Volvo that was not offered with the option of a diesel in any market. Lets dig a little deeper and understand what this Volvo is all about.
On the outside, the S60 is a looker. I think the latest generation of Volvos have really nailed it on the styling front, with simple clean lines and the S60 is no different. The Volvo S60 is only being sold in India in the Inscription trim and gets a grille with vertical slats —a signature of that trim line. The headlamps are most distinct bit of its identity, with the Thor’s Hammer DRL signature. The S60 also gets the rather cool bending lights that allow the beams to swing from side to side depending on your steering wheel position. The taillamps look really good too. I like how uncomplicated the lines are — they give the S60 an air of sophistication that other cars in trade in for more aggressive looks. While they’re all trying to get more sporty with M body kits and the likes, the Volvo, particularly in this white paint scheme looks serene. The S60 also looks rather similar to the S90, which is great considering how good the S90 looks but I suspect it could cheese off S90 owners a bit.
The interiors carry over that sense of serenity from the outside. The layout will be rather familiar if you’ve sat in any of the bigger Volvos (ie. other than the XC40) in the recent past. You have a large, 9-inch vertical touchscreen infotainment screen flanked by two vertical air vents. There is open pore wood that runs the width of the dash and is generously inlaid in to the centre console as well. There’s a digital instrument cluster — very straightforward and easy to read, conveying just the important bits of information to the driver. The seats are comfortable and hold you well, with a good amount of support. The combination of leather and wood, along with bits of brushed metal lend the cabin a sense of richness and for the most part, the finish levels are faultless. However, I do have to admit that these interiors have started to feel their age. I remember seeing them first on the XC90 five years ago, and while they’re still classy and functional, stuff like the fonts and graphics on the display and the plasticky steering-mounted controls do feel passé. The competition — the C-Class and the 3 Series — have really stepped up the game on the interior front and the Volvo doesn’t give you the impression that it is ahead of the curve any more. The backseat does provide generous amounts of room though. In terms of knee room, you are pretty well off and the bench is comfortable as well.
The S60 does boast of safety features and driver aids enabled by a front radar and cameras. It gets adaptive cruise control, lane keep assist, and city safety which detects pedestrians and animals, sounding warnings and even braking if necessary. It can also steer out of the way of oncoming traffic and prevent you from running off the road.
The S60 will be sold in India with only one engine — a 2-litre turbo-petrol that puts out 187bhp and 300Nm of torque, mated to an 8-speed automatic. And much like its styling, the drivetrain doesn’t even pretend to be sporty as it only comes with front wheel drive. There’s three driving modes that tweak the way the drivetrain behaves — Eco, Comfort and Sport. Eco mode dulls down throttle responses but obviously boosts fuel economy. Comfort is the balanced setting, while sport does make the throttle more responsive. And I must say, when you give it the beans, this Volvo will move! Not that you should be giving it the beans all the time — it is best enjoyed when being driven in a relaxed manner. It is far more enjoyable to drive it with a light foot and enjoy the refined, quiet experience. After all, this isn’t a drivetrain that lights your heart on fire when you drive it hard. It is effective — it has adequate punch and it is very refined — but it doesn’t particularly excite. And so it is best to work those strengths more.
The ride quality is a real highlight on the S60. It has steel springs and the dampers aren’t adjustable so you’ve got one default set up. It is extremely comfortable, and takes on bad roads with ease. One of the roads to our shoot location is extremely rutted but the S60 took it on confidently — never scraping the under body, and keeping the occupants inside comfortable. Even at speed, the ride is planted and it feels settled on our undulating highways. This pliant set up however does lead to some degree of roll in the corners. After all, this is no 3 Series. However, it does have an eager front end that bites in well and a sharp steering that lacks feel. Should you want to go corner carving, the S60 will indulge (but not thrill) you.
The S60 is all set to launch in March 2021. It has been a few years since its international launch so while it is an all-new car in India, it still remains a three year old car. Its strengths lie in its ability to keep you comfortable, while remaining unhurried and easy going. It certainly feels special from both the inside and the outside, and is capable of giving more traditional rivals a run for their money when it comes to outright desirability. If it is priced well — between Rs 40-43 lakh ex showroom — it should make a solid case for itself.