Volvo S60 T5 is a Little Slice of Swedish Heaven: Review
My earliest memories of Volvo consist of two things. The first was of abnormally boxy cars puttering around town with rather unpleasant people driving them. The second of a Volvo wagon up on two wheels, hammering apexes because the driver was late for a sale on herrings or meatballs in Sweden. That two-wheeled race car was Tom Walkinshaw Racing’s 850 wagon (pictured below). It was piloted by both Rickard Rydell and Jan Lammers in the British Touring Car Championships, and is one of the most iconic racing shots ever. This however, is not a race car. Rather, it’s Volvo’s latest offering — the 2015 S60 T5 Drive E, and by our account, it’s pretty quick. Question is, does this car have the same DNA as that race car that’s seared into the minds of Volvo fans everywhere? RELATED: See More of the All-New Volvo S60
Obviously, I never expected this to be the same as that BTCC racer. It is a soft family car, which has heated seats throughout the cabin, and a heated steering wheel. It has all the accoutrements afforded to you if you were at a five star resort. There is no roll cage (yet), but in its place an interior that’s been designed superbly and materials that feel miles above anything within its class. None of the cabin has any hard or scratchy plastics. Everything is soft, everything is cushy, especially those wonderful front bucket seats.
My wife described the seats as being "enveloped by an old worn baseball glove." They just fit your body perfectly. I took the car for a three-hour drive up to Wisconsin to visit the Ringbrothers shop, and during that time I never got tired, never had to shift my weight, and never felt like I needed to get the hell out of the seats. They are supremely comfortable.
What made that trip even easier was that the Volvo has a better ride than most of its competitors. It’s softer than any of the BMWs, especially since those cars are fitted with the standard run-flat tires. But that comfort and soft suspension still is able to keep up with sharper, more aggressive turns that this car so loves to plow right through. You see, there’s a monster lurking under that gorgeous Swedish bonnet.
RELATED: See Photos of the Hotted Up Volvo S60 Polestar
While the Drive E makes the car more economical, Volvo’s engineers went nuts and gave this luxury car a twin charged 2.0-liter four cylinder that has all the torque needed to get you somewhere hysterically fast. It's rated at 305 horsepower with torque pegged at 298 lb-ft. That’s quite a bit for a family sedan. However that number becomes even slightly crazier when you consider that this model is actually FWD.
Usually, when you have massively overpowered FWD cars, you’re met with enough torque steer to rip your arms from your torso., and with 305 horsepower, this should have immediately wanted to go for the nearest ditch. It doesn’t though. You just stomp the gas and are somewhere else entirely, traveling at rather high rates of speed. Volvo’s engineers have somehow negated that leery torque steer with either some form of Swedish magic, or more likely, the torque vectoring system this car has installed.
Even though you will be instantaneously far away from your initial starting point, the noise inside the cabin is something left to be desired. It sounds fake, which is sad because this engine actually makes great sounds … if you put down the back seats. After the seats are down, the car under hard acceleration sounds like a race car. Ok, maybe not a race car, but it's nice.
RELATED: See Photos of the Volvo Concept Coupe
The exhaust has a shrill turbo/supercharged whine to it, with a few pops and whistles. It’s absolutely maddening though when automakers do this. Volvo made a brilliant engine, one that sounds particularly good. They then silenced it to within an inch of its life. Obviously, the company’s goal is to market this car to a wider audience. But what would have been the harm in putting some form of electronic dump on it? Why not a system similar to the one Jaguar uses with the F-Type?
It’s usually those small issues that tend to nag you when dealing with a fantastic car, especially when you’re trying to consider the car as a whole. Besides my somewhat pedantic need for a louder exhaust, this car is a piece of near Swedish perfection.
Given the choice between this Volvo or the new BMW 3 Series, the Volvo is making a serious effort to sway your vote. This is a sincerely good car, and puts the Germans on notice. The Swedes are back, and they’re coming after you. Just not on two wheels this time.
RELATED: See Photos of the Volvo V60 Polestar Wagon
Engine: 2.0L Inline Four Cylinder
Horsepower: 305 Horsepower
MPG: 24 City/ 35 Highway
Extremely quick for its segment
The seats are superb
Gauges turn red when you turn on Performance mode
Doesn’t sound great unless you drop the back seats.
Exterior is a bit uninspired.
There are way too many buttons on the dash.
RELATED: See Photos of the Volvo S60 TTA Racecar
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