The charming cliché
“Are you testing every Volvo on the market?” asks a friend when presented with my latest test car, a Volvo S60. The sarcastic undertone of his enquiry carried a sprinkling of truth though… with so many new Swedish models on the market I feel duty-bound to test as many as possible and report back to you.
OK, so perhaps I really enjoy their new products and rate them at least as highly as those of the popular German trio. My better half claims her next car will be a Volvo V40 and I’m thrilled about that. Here are a few summarized points why you should consider a Volvo S60 as your next car:
I feel like I’m beating the dead horse of car reviews but all modern Volvos simply ooze Scandinavian avant-garde. They’re sleek and stylish with crisp details and great proportions while – apologies, dead horse – the minimalist interiors are chic, functional and fuss-free. It’s like driving around in a Beomaster 1900.
Volvo offers the S60 range with six engines, three gearboxes, front- or all-wheel-drive and four trim levels so you can drive out of a showroom with the exact car you dreamed of. On top of that, they can be coated many trendy paint hues with mouth-watering interior colour and trim combinations. I freakin’ love it.
The S60 you’re looking at now is a T5 Elite which means it packs a two-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol engine; the agro five-cylinder T5 wasn’t invited to this new S60’s party. In top spec, the motor kicks out an extremely healthy 180kW (245hp) or 350Nm, achieving 100km/h in 6.3 seconds and averaging 6L/100km.
The S60 is exactly like the many V40’s we’ve tested – it’s an absolute joy to pilot. They all have a pleasing combination of smooth power delivery, solid build quality, excellent ride comfort and handling. The sportier models with big rims and low-profile rubber can be hard at low speeds but never at severe levels.
Our test vehicle had just that: huge 18-inch wheels, but the trade-off for its firm damping was phenomenal traction. Its front wheels just gripped and gripped, never really bothered with torque-steer and lent the S60 a sure-footed and involving ride when we hustled through some corners.
The S60’s steering was a tad harder than you’d experience in a V40, the wheel is on the large side and the mechanism isn’t pin-sharp but you’d be surprised how well you can place a new Volvo into a corner or let it dance around town. The brakes are also worthy of praise and are easily modulated.
It goes without saying that the S60 is one of the safest cars on our roads with active and passive safety systems working in your favour. Each S60 comes standard with Volvo’s City Safety system, more optional safety kit and a fresh American Insurance Institute of Highway Safety “Superior” rating for collision prevention.
While not always class-leading in terms of space, Volvos offer extremely versatile and well-thought out interiors. The floating center console gimmick means that the dashboard is uncluttered while a TFT monitor and digital instrumentation (depending on model) keep things even more tidy and entertaining.
The Xenon headlights with cornering function are just as excellent as the Performance audio system; given a clean audio source, the latter can easily be maxxed-out without distortion. Elite models feature a bigger screen while every S60 has the obligatory list of automatic and electrically adjusted features.
Volvo’s S60 starts at N$330,000 for a small turbo-petrol Manual and goes right up to N$527,000 for the nastiest turbo-petrol with AWD and lots of “get out of my way” parts strapped on. There are two other turbo-petrols in between, as well as fuel-efficient turbo-diesels – all at reasonable prices.
Your chosen spec level makes a bit of a difference in price but Volvo’s value proposition and standard features are very impressive. What little optional extras are left won’t cost you two limbs (a set of wheels is N$6,800) and obviously your new S60 will arrive at your door with a five-year/100,000km maintenance plan.
That’s right, cars can be charming. Well, I think so and you’ll just have to deal with it. Whenever I had a Volvo parked next to other cars in my driveway, I would pick the Swede. It boils down to a combination of all the above points and may even sway skeptics like my sarcastic friend.
0-100m: 6.0s / 91.8km/h
0-200m: 9.3s / 117.4km/h
0-300m: 12.1s / 136.5km/h
0-400m: lost signal
1/4mile: lost signal
Altitude Sea level
Road Dry tarmac, level
Occupants Driver, no passengers
Fuel level 1/3