2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-EPosted on February 12th, 2015
Game changing sport sedan
By Nina Russin
Volvo has thrown the old playbook out the window and rewritten the rules for the new S60 sport sedan, with engine technology that is truly revolutionary. Traditional wisdom dictated that four-cylinder engines stretched fuel economy but sacrificed power. A supercharged and turbocharged four-cylinder engine in the Volvo S60 T6 develops 302 horsepower and 295 foot-pounds of torque while averaging 35 miles-per-gallon on the highway according to the EPA.
A new eight-speed automatic transmission provides large overdrive gears to further improve gas mileage during low-load situations. The engine automatically shuts off at idle to save gas in stop-and-go traffic. The ignition turns back on as soon as the driver takes his foot off the brake pedal.
Volvo is known for its leadership position in active safety technology, with features such as City Safety with pedestrian detection standard equipment on the mid-sized sedan. Optional blind spot detection adds cross-traffic alert, lane keep assist and front and rear parking aids.
A new Sensus Connect infotainment feature works via a smartphone app downloadable to either Android or iPhones. It includes emergency notification of police and emergency medical personnel in the event of a collision, enables car owners to schedule service visits using the app, adds apps such as Pandora, Stitcher and Yelp via cloud-based technology, creates a WiFi hotspot and adds an on-screen owner’s manual.
Priced from $39,000
Pricing begins at $39,000 for the S60 T6, excluding the $925 destination charge. The test car adds a platinum package with Harman Kardon premium audio system, bi-xenon headlamps, rearview camera, adaptive cruise control, collision warning with brake assist, drowsy driver alert, power retractable outside mirrors, grocery net and ambient lighting. The platinum package also adds navigation to Sensus Connect, displaying maps and directions on the car’s center stack screen. A climate package adds heated front and rear seats, heated steering wheel, heated windshield, and interior air filter.
Other options include 19-inch alloy rims and the blind spot information package, bringing the final MSRP to $47,575.
Test drive in Arizona
While other OEMs have developed their own versions of blind spot detection, pedestrian detection with auto-brake and lane keep assist, Volvo’s technology works better. One of the reasons is the Swedish sensitivity to ergonomics that impacts everything from seat design to gauge cluster graphics and the use of warning lights.
The lane keep assist feature is a good example. Rather than annoying chimes to warn the driver he is drifting out of the lane, the Volvo system uses subtle haptic feedback through the steering wheel before the car applies braking to move the vehicle back towards center.
Blind spot monitoring utilizes LED signals in the A-pillars that illuminate when vehicles in adjacent lanes pass through the driver’s blind spots, making it easier to safely change lanes in dense traffic.
The rearview camera image is crystal clear in bright sunlight whereas competitive systems can be hard to see. City Safety with pedestrian detection employs a combination of visual and audible cues to warn the driver about obstacles in his path. If the driver fails to react, the vehicle automatically brakes, coming to a complete stop at speeds under 20 miles-per-hour.
Unique engine design
But the S60’s tour-de-force is its engine: one of the sweetest machines I have yet to experience. The supercharger and turbocharger are mounted within a single housing. When the driver steps on the gas, the supercharger kicks in to provide instant boost. Once the vehicle reaches about 1,700 rpm the supercharger disengages and the turbocharger takes over.
The advantage of this setup over a traditional supercharger is size. The supercharger can be smaller and lighter since it is only responsible for boost at the low end. The turbocharger is likewise small and easy to package under the hood.
Although Volvo provides formula-style shift paddles on the steering wheel for manual gear selection, the S60 is a rocket ship in fully automatic mode. When I needed to pass a slower vehicle on Bush Highway to car accelerated to 80 mph in the blink of an eye.
Engineers boosted chassis rigidity using a combination of high strength and ultra high strength steel. By doing so, they were able to tune the electric power steering system to replicate the performance of a traditional hydraulic unit. On-center response at speed is exceptionally good. The advantage of EPS is weight savings under the hood, and fewer mechanical parts to wear out during the car’s life cycle.
The four-wheel independent suspension consists of MacPherson struts up front and a multi-link setup in back. Stabilizer bars on both axles keep the chassis flat in the corners. Taking several decreasing radius turns at speed, the chassis remained glued to the pavement and I felt well in control.
Visibility around the perimeter is good. I was able to adjust the driver’s seat for a clear forward view. A tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel enables smaller drivers to maintain a safe distance from the front airbag. Wind, engine and road noise intrusion to the interior is minimal, enabling passengers to enjoy the upscale audio system.
The S60 interior takes its cues from contemporary Scandinavian furniture, with seating that is as beautiful as it is comfortable. Lower lumbar support is very good. A dead pedal reduces leg fatigue on longer drives.
When the driver enters the car, a thin film transistor gauge cluster display springs to life in a sweeping motion. The gauge cluster displays instant and average fuel economy, odometer and trip meter readings, posted speed limits, and ambient temperature.
It took me a few minutes to figure out the audio controls, but the knobs are easy to reach from either front seating position and large enough to work with gloves on. Volvo’s floating center console creates a storage space next to the driver.
Redundant steering wheel controls enable the driver to change audio channels, use the phone and cruise control with minimal distraction.
The trunk is quite spacious, easily accommodating groceries, luggage, golf bags and smaller camping equipment. Cyclists will be better served by one of Volvos wagons, crossovers or sport-utility vehicles, all of which offer a taller and more spacious cargo bay.
The Volvo S60 comes with front, side and side curtain airbags, whiplash resistant headrests, daytime running lamps, City Safety with pedestrian detection, Sensus Connect with post-collision notification and tire pressure monitoring.
The factory warranty includes complimentary factory maintenance for the first three years or 30,000 miles. The Volvo S60 received a five-star overall crash test rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Like: A beautiful, powerful sport sedan with excellent fuel economy and segment-leading safety features.
Model: S60 T-6 Drive-E
Base price: $39,000
As tested: $47,575
Horsepower: 302 Hp @ 5700 rpm
Torque: 295 lbs.-ft. @ 1800 rpm
Antilock brakes: Standard
Side curtain airbags: Standard
First aid kit: N/A
Bicycle friendly: No
Fuel economy: 24/35 mpg city/highway
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