The Volvo S60 was easily the biggest surprise during this year’s All-Stars test. That’s because, at first glance, the spec sheet looks familiar. With 300 hp and all-wheel drive, you might guess that the new S60 T6 is a rehash of the old S60R, an entertaining car that was never a front-runner in terms of driving dynamics. Despite sharing the old R’s power rating, the off-kilter warble of the old five-cylinder has been replaced by the smooth hum of a 3.0-liter in-line six that’s fortified with a twin-scroll turbocharger. (A 250-hp, turbo five-cylinder is the new S60’s base engine, though.)
The S60 T6’s power is routed through a revised all-wheel-drive system that now employs torque-vectoring technology. In this case, we might have to redefine the term “torque steer.”
Between the smooth ‘n’ punchy straight-six’s 325 lb-ft of torque and that trick all-wheel-drive system, the S60 is so agile it feels as if it’s hinged at the B-pillar — just point the wheel, mash the gas, and you’re off in a copper-hued blur. (Volvo might make this car in other colors, but “vibrant copper metallic” seems to suit it, like silver on a Mercedes-Benz or lime green on a Lamborghini.)
The interior is a Scandinavian masterpiece, like Elin Woods and unlike a Stieg Larsson novel. The S60 provides all the luxe accoutrements you’d expect in this class, from a killer sound system to wood inlays that look like they belong in a Thos Moser catalog. But it’s all a bit softer and more inviting than you’d expect. Novel idea: you don’t need great big bolsters and carbon-fiber trim to remind you that you’re inside a fast car.
With the S60, Volvo has managed to carve out a distinct product in an impossibly crowded field. The S60 retains its Swedish personality (it’ll tow 3307 pounds, for some reason) but now challenges the class leaders on refinement and handling. The R is dead, all hail the T6.
– Ezra Dyer, Writer
BASE PRICE RANGE: $32,300-$38,550
ENGINES: 2.5L turbocharged I-5, 250 hp, 295 lb-ft; 3.0L turbocharged I-6, 300 hp, 325 lb-ft