2011 Volvo S60 T6
by John Davis
It's been a decade since the stylish Volvo S60 first arrived, signaling the Swedish carmaker's welcome departure from its traditionally boxy design language. The S60 also marked a more aggressive and sporty direction for the brand. Well,10 years is a long time to wait for a redesign, but the 2011 Volvo S60 T6 is finally here.
Built on a revised Y70 platform, the same one used by the S80 as well as the previous S60, wheelbase is up almost 2-and-a-half inches, with overall length up an inch. Size is now similar to rivals like the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, Audi A4, and BMW 3-Series.
Touting more assertive styling, the S60 is spearheaded with a larger grille, more aggressive headlamps, and a decisively sculpted hood. Its taut, shapely profile is highlighted by what Volvo refers to as a double-wave form line that flows from front to rear. A short deck combines with a concise rear overhang for classic sport sedan character.
In the U.S., initial power for the all-wheel drive S60 T6 comes from a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6. Output is 300 horsepower. A 250-horsepower, front-wheel drive 5-cylinder car will soon join the lineup as a 2012 model.
We found that the T6 turbo delivered strong acceleration, both off the line and in mid-sprint. Power on the T6 flows through a six-speed automatic only, but with manual shift mode. The standard all-wheel drive system was engineered by Haldex.
But the S60's most impressive performance attributes come from its refined handling properties. Enhancements include a faster steering ratio, stiffer suspension springs, and an all-around more rigid structure than the previous car. Three suspension tunings are offered including a new generation Four-C Active Chassis with three damper modes. Our first outing in the new S60 proved that it can indeed corner hard while retaining plenty of grip and balance.
We also observed that the upscale interior of the new S60 successfully combines a sporty cockpit feel with classic Swedish styling cues. The gauges have a bright, contemporary look. There is also a driver canted, floating center stack. A signature Volvo touch that is beginning to look dated.
Also true to Volvo form, front seats mimic pieces of high-end furniture. They are thickly padded, well bolstered, and very comfortable.
As to Volvo's reputation for advanced safety, the S60 has the world's first Pedestrian Detection System with Full Auto Brake. This radar- and camera-based system can bring the car to a complete halt in order to avoid a pedestrian. Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Departure Warning are also available, as is a grille parking assist camera with a panoramic field of vision.
The rear seat of the S60 gains two inches of legroom over the previous car. Folding seatbacks, and separate pass-through door, expand an already useful trunk.
The 2011 Volvo S60 T6 takes a big leap forwards in performance, without forgetting the brand's heritage for safety and comfort. It's a combination that we think will bring a lot more practical minded enthusiasts into the Volvo family.
For more on the 2011 Volvo S60 T6, be sure to catch MotorWeek's Road Test on episode #3020 which begins airing January 22. MotorWeek is broadcast on PBS television stations nationwide, and on HD Theater where high definition cable and satellite service is available.