It’s no secret that the key to success for any manufacturer is to provide consumers with an SUV option alongside the rest of their range. With companies like BMW and Mercedes capitalising on “SUV fever” for the last 20+ years, it’s no surprise to also see the likes of Porsche, Lamborghini and even Rolls Royce enter the market to claim their share of the segment Volvo are hoping to take a small cut back from the SUV segment with the release of their new S60 range.
The S60 is not new to Volvo, with the first being released nearly 20 years ago, but the latest version looks to set a new bar for European sedans from both a technology and value perspective.
Volvo’s latest sedan range incorporates both the T5 and T8 specification, the T5 representing the entry level option in terms of spec and price. But it’s the T8 that has got people talking due to its incredible “Twin Engine” supercharged/turbocharged, plug-in hybrid platform.
Volvo has done a great job over the last 10+ years to shake the stigma of years gone and cars like the current T8 R-Design does a great job of making you forget that completely. The AWD system combined with a unique combination of electric drive, turbo and supercharging gives this S60 some of the smoothest power delivery of anything do date. Not to mention the R-Design package looks the business, too.
The engine is a Plug-in-Hybrid 2 litre which may not seem like much but the twin charging produces an impressive 246kw @ 6000rpm and that’s before you factor in an extra 65kw from the Electric motor for a combined total of 311kw.
Behind the wheel of the S60 T8 is where you’ll start to experience what separates a sedan from an SUV, especially when you find yourself on the twisty roads of the Adelaide Hills like we did during this test.
When Volvo designed the T8 Twin Engine, they didn’t set out to compete with the plethora of purpose-built sports cars available from other European brands, but instead wanted to strike a balance between comfort, performance and technology.
Saying that, for those familiar with Volvo’s performance brand, Polestar, will know that Volvo aren’t afraid to sprinkle on a little bit of paprika from time to time. It’s this sprinkling that makes the T8 bring just enough to the table to ensure a very engaging drive. Polestar’s engineers have put the finishing touches to what is already a good drive-train to add that extra level of refinement which sets this model apart from not only the rest of the range, but also other cars in the segment.
From a design standpoint, Volvo have always had their finger on the pulse when it comes to both interior and exterior styling and the latest range are no different. Interior design is essentially the same across the whole range with the S60 T5, T8 and all SUVs now sharing the same dashboard layout and display unit, but that isn’t a bad thing.
The whole Volvo range in 2019 now features an Android-based infotainment unit which is intuitive to new users but also features a full google integration with apps like maps and google assistant as standard, for those that want to be more connected while on the move. There’s also Apple CarPlay available too, so don’t stress if you aren’t an Android fan.
The other noteworthy addition to the latest Volvo range is the ability to option in a full Bowers & Wilkins 15 speaker audio system which sounds absolutely incredible. But even for the most devout audiophile, it’s a steep investment at $5000.
Exterior styling is classically Swedish, with minimalism influencing the side profile as we’ve learned to expect over the years. However, the front end has been designed around a bold LED headlight setup which balances well with a more aggressive bumper and front lip than we used to from Volvo. The rear and seems to be divisive in the styling department, with some loving and some hating the ‘wraparound’ style of tail lights. Regardless, it seems that Volvo has applied the same principles of balance to the outside of the car as it has to the interior and drivetrain.
So, how does the S60 range stack up against the much more popular SUV range on offer from other manufacturers as well as, of course, Volvo themselves?
When looking at Volvo’s sedan offering as a standalone, it’s clear that a lot of effort has been put in from the engineers to create a wonderfully balanced and capable car, but it’s so hard to look past the fact that SUVs offer just that little bit more in versatility for those that need it, which is really unfortunate after driving the S60, especially the T8 as it’s such a joy to steer.
There is a place for sedans in today’s market and that is evidenced by the huge amount of BMW 3-series and Mercedes Benz C-Classes on the roads and it’s clear that Volvo has the cajones to put up a competitor in this mature market.
Time will tell if buyers can look past the fact that you can’t fit 2 strollers easily in the boot of an S60, or perhaps if there is indeed a new type of customer specifically looking for a sedan that’s packed with plenty of tech and performance to back it up.
Managing Director of Volvo Cars Australia, Nick Connor, says that the company isn’t looking to sell millions of S60s, that’s never been Volvo’s game plan even from the beginning, but if they can capture even 1% of the sedan market, that will be a win in their eyes.
The S60 range is definitely worth a test drive if you are in the market for a fast, fun and practical car. The S60 T5 starts at $49,990 MSRP with the T8 R-Design Hybrid model topping out at $85,990 MSRP.