Driven: Volvo S60 D4
New looks, better features and safer than before. But now it’s only available as a diesel
When Volvo launched the S60 in India in 2011, it was touted as one of the sportier sedans in the Volvo line-up. It looked nothing like Volvo’s classic boxy design, and the Scandinavian carmaker was banking on its latest entry-level premium sedan to turn its fortunes around in India.
But with the sheer dominance of the German trio, it was getting difficult for the S60 to find customers in our market. After two years of lukewarm sales, Volvo decided it was time for its line-up to go under the knife. Which brings us to this revised S60.
The refreshed S60 has got a makeover inside and out, starting from the front, which now looks more mainstream than it did before. The rounded and dynamic family looks of the S60 make way for slimmer headlamps, a wider grille, stronger ridges on the bonnet, repositioned daytime running lights and reprofiled front bumper. The S60 continues to looks stunning, with its almost coupe-like profile given how the flowing C-pillar extends all the way to the tail lamps.
The cabin, however, isn’t as appealing as the exterior design, but Volvo has tried to add some zing inside with an attractive adaptive digital display, backlit dials and buttons, and new chrome accents. All this introduces a much-needed shot of brightness and excitement to the interior. The floating central console that is unique to Volvo cars is quite attractive. Practical too.
The sporty leather seats offer great all-round support and do a brilliant job of holding the driver and passenger in place. Things aren’t too bad at the back either, but the rear seat is best for two people, since the bucket-shaped seats won’t allow a fifth passenger to travel in much comfort. The S60 is available in three trim levels – D4 Kinetic, D4 Summum and D5 Summum – and standard across all models is full leather upholstery, sporty seats, new multimedia system, rear parking sensor (camera for D5) and LED daytime running lights.
Across the world, Volvo is making a shift to its new four-cylinder diesel unit, but for India, it’s gone with the existing 5-cylinder, 1,984cc, turbo-diesel motor, churning out 161bhp and a healthy 400Nm of max torque. The motor itself feels a bit short on refinement compared to its German rivals, but there’s enough mid-range punch and the unit feels quite peppy in the city, even at part-throttle.
The initial turbo-lag is kept well in check and the motor doesn’t disappoint much on the highway either. If there’s something to fault, it’s the not-so-quick six-speed auto ’box that takes its own sweet time to react. Also, the D4 doesn’t have the paddle-shifter that’s offered on the D5 variant, and that hurts.
If there was one thing the S60 was famous for, apart from its looks, it would be driving dynamics, and this one continues the tradition. Throw this Volvo into a corner and it holds the line without much drama. Since all the power is sent to the front wheels only, there is a hint of understeer while approaching high-speed corners, but even then, things never go out of control. And even if they do, this sedan has enough safety features to keep you out of trouble.
After driving it around in mixed conditions, the S60 comes across as an impressive product that is bogged down by Volvo’s poor sales and after-sales footprint in India. With stunning looks, great comfort, decent performance, excellent safety features and creature comforts, the S60 D4 Summum makes a strong case for itself. But in this country, the Volvo brand isn’t up there on the desirability scale, and it is this, more than the product itself, that is hurting the S60’s performance in India.
5-cyl, 1,984cc, 161bhp, 400Nm, 6A, FWD, 0-100kph: 9.2sec (claimed), Top speed: 215kph (claimed), weight: 1,665kg, fuel tank: 67.5 litres, Rs 32.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
The S60 with its facelift is on par with its German rivals as far as styling, performance, driving dynamics and comfort level go. In fact, the S60 looks stunning in flesh. Plus, its competitively priced too. You can definitely buy this Volvo if you want something different than the more popular luxury sedans. But you’ll have to live with poor after-sales.