Auto Review: Sport driving – the Volvo way

By Bill Heald - ReminderNews
Feature Article - posted Fri., May. 6, 2011
- Contributed Photo

It can be really hard to change the image of a company that has been perceived a certain way for years. In the case of Volvo, it’s not that their cars have been saddled with a bad image; it’s just that it was kind of a boring one. The Swedish company has become synonymous with safety, and the styling (especially of their station wagons) looked, as a fellow auto journalist once said, more like the box a car comes in instead of the car itself.

But while Volvos continue to be on the leading edge of safety technology, they have also done impressive things with both styling and performance. Oh, and I left out luxury, for this week’s review is about a Volvo that has all these qualities and then some. The S60 is a top-notch sedan, with a powerful all-wheel-drive drivetrain, really comfortable cabin with the latest gadgets, and a safety résumé that has some of the latest high-tech aides to not only protect you in the event of a collision, but also  to help prevent one in the first place.

The engine on the S60 is a 3-liter Inline Six that is fortified with an intercooled turbocharger, and it generates an impressive 300 horsepower with 325 lb.-ft. of torque. This formidable mill is teamed with a six-speed Geartronic automatic transmission that has a manual mode for those desiring more control over the driving experience.

This transmission puts the power to the road via Volvo’s electronically controlled all-wheel drive with Instant Traction that comes into play if you should encounter slippery conditions. Dynamic Stability and Traction Control is also part of this advanced drivetrain, and incorporates Corner Traction Control that can alter power to help correct understeer during tight cornering. Got all that?

Wait, there’s more. Three chassis tuning options are available, including Dynamic, Touring (both available at no extra cost) and Volvo’s optional Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept. We had the Dynamic Chassis, which delivered a firm but still suitably compliant ride, and excellent handling with flat cornering and good steering feedback. This is one of those great sport sedans that feels smaller than it actually is, and is a lot of fun to usher through stretches of curvy tarmac. Volvo’s substantial safety résumé was further enhanced by the optional Technology Package, including Adaptive Cruise Control, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Driver Alert Control, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake and a Lane Departure Warning.

Inside, Volvo does something I think is kind of special in that the interior styling is not only attractive, but aesthetically unique. The instruments are clear and visually clean, and the controls are logically arranged and easy to master. Room and comfort are excellent up front, and even though I wasn’t expecting it based on exterior appearance, the rear seat is likewise very roomy, with outstanding lower back support and an executive-quality armrest and map lights.

The 2011 Volvo C60 T6 AWD is EPA-rated 18 MPG city/26 highway and we averaged 25 MPG during our week with the vehicle. With options, our MSRP came to $46,200.

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