You may have heard that the new S60 is the sportiest Volvo ever built, that it revives its creator's reputation for cool Scandinavian design without sacrificing safety, that people will notice you driving it in the supermarket parking lot but that you're not likely to run over any gawkers.
It's all true.
The Swedish automaker that cultivated a cult of pragmatists is now going after enthusiasts.
"The number '60' in our model range nowadays indicates our sportiest models," explained Tomas Ahlborg, Volvo's project director for the model. "With the all-new S60, we are placing ourselves right on the car enthusiast's radar screens."
When powered by the most potent of three gasoline engines offered, the S60 T6 can hurtle from 0 to 60 mph in 6.1 seconds. The 3-liter, turbocharged inline 6-cylinder engine revs out 300 horsepower harnessed to a six-speed automatic transmission that can also serve as a manual shifter.
Even with that awesome output and all-wheel-drive, the power plant goes easy on the fuel, burning unleaded at the rate of 18 city and 26 highway mpg for an average of 21 mpg. Budget about $2,142 per year to refuel.
Unfortunately, the price tag for the T6 can be rather daunting, especially with all those irresistible options.
The review car carried a base sticker of $37,700 that rose to $46,200 with options. That goes with the territory for high-performance luxury cars.
"Success in this segment means a lot for the brand's image and we are convinced that the all-new S60 will be one of the strongest contenders," said Gerry Keaney, Volvo's senior vice president of marketing.
Coming a decade after the first-generation Volvo S60 was launched in 2000, the second generation was eagerly awaited. About 600,000 of the compact sedans cruise the world's roads today, primarily in the U.S. and Europe.
Volvo, as you recall, was part of Ford Motor Co. from 1999 to 2010 but was cut loose as the Blue Oval struggled to survive the recessionary tide. China's Geely Holding Group now owns the brand.
As a company, Volvo is still considered Swedish, even though the S60 is built in Ghent, Belgium. But the word "Volvo" is Latin, meaning "I roll."
Few cars roll like the T6. You can drive it like the family sedan without suffering automotive anemia, or you can push the envelope and unleash breathtakingly aggressive power. There's no turbo lag. And the all-wheel drive makes the 18-inch tires feel incredibly well attached to the road.
While performing like an athlete, the S60 T6 combines high-tech innovation in every aspect of its electronic control.
Among the most impressive safety features is something called "pedestrian detection with auto brake," which can detect people walking in front of the car. The system sounds a warning and automatically applies full braking power if the driver does not respond in time. Pedestrian detection and the related collision detection come with the optional technology package that also includes lane-departure warning.
In this kind of car, you don't mind hitting the brakes from time to time. The large, ventilated discs are quite decisive when it comes to stopping the car. The other electronic backups are provided, including anti-lock system, electronic brake-force distribution, stability and traction control.
Volvo touts the S60 as the first sedan on the market with Advanced Stability Control. With a new roll angle sensor, it is possible to identify skidding at a very early stage. Advanced Stability Control resists lateral forces, thus improving handling in hard maneuvers.
The S60's sense of style is impeccable inside and out.
Designed to resemble a coupe with four doors, the snub-nosed sedan creates a windswept profile with rear roof pillars stretching to the tail lamps.
The roofline and a contour line along the shoulders present a double wave from the headlamps to the tail lamps. Among the skin tones you can choose, one seems unique to Volvo: "Vibrant Copper," the review car's attention-grabbing color.
An exterior styling kit lets the buyer customize the appearance front and rear skid plates, a front deco frame, side scuff plates, exhaust tailpipe finishers and 18-inch alloy wheels.
Inside, the instruments and center stack angle toward the driver to create a sensation of focus and control. Designers did a remarkable job on the center stack, creating a compact set of controls that are well packaged but may require you to leaf through the owner's manual.
The upholstery choices of beige and black can be invigorated with the new highlight shade Beechwood Brown for a two-tone effect. Inlays are available in Charcoal, Shimmer Graphite aluminum or Urbane Wood.
WHAT'S NEW: All-new second generation, new body, standard features, power.
PLUSES: Performance, style, safety, innovation.
MINUSES: Price, warranty.
BOTTOM LINE: A Volvo for enthusiasts.
Copyright 2011 Scripps Media, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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