Monday, January 10, 2011

Volvo S60:Stylish sporty safe and spacious

Volvo has maintained a low-key presence in the Indian market until now in so far as cars are concerned. The Swedish company is , however , looking at expanding its car line-up in India. Not only that , they are taking an aggressive step towards achieving this goal. We already know of two cars from Volvo that are set to appear in the Indian market soon: the XC60 and S60. The company is also looking at launching the V60 , which will open up an all-new avenue for cars in India.

Let’s leave two of these cars aside for the moment and look at the most exciting of the three – the S60. No doubt , the XC60 is an amazing product and sells very well in Europe and the V60 will be an equally interesting product. But with the S60 , Volvo are set to change the rules of the game. How? We landed up in Italy to find out exactly that.

First of all , the Volvo S60 is an all-new car , be it on the design front or the technology front. Give it one look and you don’t need to be told that it is like no Volvo of the past. The aggressive snout with bug-eyed headlamps (choice of styling can be subjective in this case) and a bold grille with a diagonal stripe that symbolises the Volvo badging make for a striking front end. The tail-lamps are pretty much like what we have seen on previous Volvo sedans.

Inside , the new S60 has travelled a lot since its last version. The dash , console , switches , gear-selector , A-C knobs – everything looks techy , up-to-date and , most importantly , uncluttered. The seats are quite low and snug and tend to give a sporty feel along with the comfort of a premium sedan. Space at the rear is going to be the most important factor with which the Volvo will try to score brownie points over their competitors. But do the exterior and interior form the only points of consideration in respect of the new S60?

The answer is ‘No’. What is more to this new Volvo is the way it drives. It must be for the first time that Volvo are talking of dynamics , driving pleasure and sportiness more than ever. And they do mean it to some extent. The S60 feels sporty and goes round corners brilliantly. It might not be able to match the extreme sporty nature of one of its Bavarian competitors , but the balance that this Volvo achieves between agility and comfort is something to put your money on.

Driving around the countryside with ample corners on offer in the hilly sections , there was no cause for complaint as regards the way the car behaved round bends. To my surprise , the steering was well weighted and quite sharp. i won’t call it point-and-shoot precision , but it surely is a vast improvement over the Volvos that I have driven in the past.

The engines on offer in the S60 are the T6 (3.0-litre petrol) and D5 (2.4-litre diesel). The T6 is for the enthusiastic soul. With 308 PS of peak power and 440 Nm of maximum torque , this turbocharged , six-cylinder engine is quick. The linear delivery of power and torque ensure a smooth drive. Mated with the T6 is a six-speed auto box with sequential manual shifting , but without paddle shifters. The S60 comes with an all-wheel drive configuration that aids its handling and road grip to an appreciable extent.

For a cleaner fuel option , the D5 is on offer , which is much slower than the T6. However , being diesel , the torque output is almost similar to that of T6 at 420 Nm. The immense amount of torque available on tap ensures a good run round the city. However , after having driven the T6-powered S60 , there was a little disappointment on account of its slightly sluggish performance.

Safety is synonymous with Volvo and there are a couple of new technologies incorporated into the S60 that will set a new benchmark in this department. Pedestrian detection along with full auto brakes and Queue assist are the ones that deserve special mention and have been discussed in a box elsewhere in this article.

Looking at the Volvo as a complete package , the S60 is stylish , spacious , technologically advanced , powerful and equipped with great safety features. The car will hit the Indian market before March 2011. A good price tag is probably the only important thing for Volvo to Beat their competition now , since their offering has got all the rest!

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