It’s very clear that the new S60 is part of Volvo’s new lineage.
Since being rescued from a dull existence under Ford ownership in 2010 by Geely, a Chinese company, Volvo has been allowed to really let their Swedish heritage and reputation for design and quality flourish. In fact, the S90 remains one of my favorite new sedans available today; it’s very good and has a character that makes every drive feel like an occasion. Happily, the folks at Volvo have taken much of the content and design from the S90 and squeezed it into a smaller package for the all-new S60. So, to see if I’d fall in love all over again I spent a week with a 2019 Volvo S60 T6 Momentum.
On the outside it’s very clear that the new S60 is part of Volvo’s new lineage and just like the S90, it’s a great looking car. The styling represents a great balance between elegance and sportiness, with sharp lines, nice proportions, tasteful wheels and LED lighting all around. The Momentum, which is the entry level trim, and the upscale Inscription look very similar on the exterior with a more formal business-like appearance.
The sportier R-Design (reviewed here) gets more aggressive looking rocker skirts, fasciae and wheels. Our Momentum tester came finished in Birch metallic, a nice subtle silvery metallic white, and sporting the optional ($1000) 19” wheels that look fantastic and help show off the large brakes. Sheer size aside, the S60 does a very effective job at capturing the elegance of the S90 in a more compact dimension.
Similarly, the interior of the S60 also shares a lot in the way of design and materials with its larger sibling. To be fair, some of the materials in the S60, such as some pieces of the door panels and center console, are not as premium as you’d find in an S90, but we’re also talking about a sedan at a very different price point. The dash layout is very clean and minimalistic, as you might expect from the Swedes, and nearly all controls are managed through Volvo’s Sensus 12.3” dash mounted touch screen that operates in a very similar fashion to a tradition tablet.
The system is very different from what you’ll find in most cars today in that it offers many more screens, information and content, however all that means it can be cumbersome to operate. For example, for climate controls you’ll need to swipe until you reach the climate screen, then navigate the icons until you’ve found your desired setting. I will admit though, it’s a slick looking system and looks right at home centered in the Volvo’s dash.
The rest of the interior is equally good looking with lots of matte black accented by metallic tones such as the Iron Ore inlays in our tester and polished aluminum and knobs – all feel great. In the Momentum trim you can select between a couple of seat upholstery options including a light textile weave, black leatherette, and black, amber or blond leather. Our tester came with the black leather, and as expected in a Volvo, the seats are simply amazingly comfortable. The Momentum also comes with a full-length panoramic glass sunroof, which was a blessing on this warm spring week.
Up front there is plenty of head and legroom, and storage for daily carry items is adequate with two cupholders and some extra storage under a sliding cover in the center console. The center armrest has a relatively small storage cubby, and the door pockets are awkwardly shaped but work well. In the back, head and legroom is generous for the segment – a worthwhile advantage if you intend to frequently carry adult passengers in the back.
Volvo has been stepping up more than just design in recent years, focusing more and more attention on the driving dynamics of their cars. They are using their performance once again as a marketable trait, not unlike BMW. The S60 does actually share a lot of its underpinnings with its larger sibling, the S90, as it’s built on what Volvo calls their Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), essentially a chassis that can be re-worked for the requirements of many different shapes and sizes of vehicle.
Volvo has also made a move to a totally four-cylinder powered lineup, with a greater emphasis on forced induction setups to squeeze out impressive levels of performance. So, by sharing a similar chassis and powertrains between their various models Volvo is able to maintain a very similar driving experience across their line-up.
The S60 is no exception and comes available with two four-cylinder options. Both 2.0L engines, the T5 is available only in the entry-level FWD Momentum; it’s turbocharged and puts out 250 horsepower. The larger T6 is equipped on all other all-wheel-drive models. It’s both turbocharged and supercharged, making an impressive 316 horsepower and 295 lb-ft. of torque at 2,200RPM. The twin-charged setup leverages the supercharger’s low RPM induction capabilities to eliminate lag while the turbo spools up higher in the range. It’s a very effective design and it means that the T6 has plenty of raw thrust regardless of whether you’re accelerating from a stop or passing on the highway.
The only time lag is experienced seems to be within the electronic throttle itself, quickly mashing it to the floor will have you waiting longer than expected for a reaction from the powertrain. Beyond that, the eight-speed automatic does a great job keeping up with just about any situation and the T6 is a very pleasant dance partner to live with, save for one trait. It does sound like a four cylinder, especially on cool morning start-ups, and that seems slightly countered to the S60’s refined character.
From behind the wheel the S60 is a very good balance between comfort, refinement and sportiness. Make no mistake, the S60 is not as sporty or performance oriented as say the BMW M340i. It handles well and is plenty of fun on the backroads, but the steering and suspension are just not as crisp or as sharp. The S60 has a more refined and luxurious ride and it’s quieter on the highway which makes it better to live with on a daily basis for me, and likely for most people who don’t commute to work on mountain roads.
Of course, when you are in the mood for a little extra control, putting the S60 into sport mode does provide you with a very capable sports sedan with a surprising amount of grip and control thanks to brake-based torque vectoring and the AWD system’s ability to send up to half of the car’s power to the rear wheels.
Efficiency is obviously one of the factors leading Volvo’s move to four cylinders and the results here were fairly strong, through potentially not all they could be. After a week of commuting I saw an average of 9.4L/100km, strictly on 91-octane fuel as per the requirement for the T6. Given that the S60 is not a light car and does boast more than 300 horsepower and AWD, it’s a good number, but not significantly different than I’d expect from a six-cylinder competitor.
Pricing on the S60 is right in line with similarly equipped German competitors. The entry level Momentum, like our tester starts at $42,400 with the T5, and at $47,400 for the AWD T6 here. There is an AWD R-Design model at $52,400, and the top-line Inscription at $53,900. Interestingly though, even the Inscription doesn’t come loaded and there are a number of packages and stand-alone options than can be added at any trim level. Our tester, despite being a Momentum got just about every option box ticked off, pushing the as tested price to $61,965, a long way from the starting price.
In going through the options our tester got the $3,400 Momentum Plus Package, which adds a lot of nice luxurious touches such as more upscale interior and exterior lighting, navigation, fog lights, four zone climate control and drive model selector (comfort, sport and economy). It also had a $1,250 Climate Package that adds heated rear seats and heated steering wheel (this really should be standard in Canada). The $1,800 Vision Package adds a surround view camera park assist system, blind spot info system, auto dimming mirrors and retractable rear view mirrors.
An additional $1,500 Convenience Package adds a HomeLink garage door opener, adaptive cruise control and a compass in the rear view mirror. Ours also got the $1,000 wheel upgrade to the 19s and count $1,500 for the real leather seats. Lastly, our tester had the $1,200 Harman-Kardon 600W 14-speaker sound system, which does sound great even if it’s not the $3,400 Bowers & Wilkins system available in the Inscription model.
Volvo has a very serious contender in the mid-size premium sports sedan segment on their hands with the S60. In a segment that’s been dominated by BMW, Mercedes-Benz Audi for years, Volvo is not standing down. It doesn’t feel quite as special as the S90 despite being so closely related, and a few little quirks such as the cumbersome infotainment is a tough pill to swallow when it comes to a car that’s already trading at a premium price. Regardless, I do think this a better car to live with day-to-day than many of its competitors, and therefore well worth a test drive.