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Volvo S60 NRMA Drivers Seat Long-term test

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Volvo S60 front
Volvo S60 rear view
Volvo S60 engine
Volvo S60 Pedestrian warning
Pedestrian detection

Quick Facts

Make Volvo
Model S60 T5
Category Medium
Review Date 8 July 2011
Model Year 2011
List price $51,990
Price as tested $65,415
Mileage 400km
Costs to date None
Reviewed by Isaac Bober, Motoring Editor
Why it's on test

Volvo reckons the S60 is capable of besting the three big Germans: Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz. We want to see if it lives up to the claim.

While the Volvo XC60 has been the standout seller for Volvo dealers, the recently-ish released S60 has done pretty well too. No doubt you've all seen the TV and billboard Ads spruiking the S60's "German whipping" ability. Well, that and the fact the thing is a safety powerhouse is the reason we wanted to get our hands on one. We wanted to see just how useful all of its goodies are, and whether the Swede can really mix it with the Germans.

Our long-term test car is a standard S60 T5, which has a manufacturer's list price of $51,950 and that makes it competitive with the likes of Audi A4, BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. If you were being really picky, though, you could always be comparing it with things like Skoda Superb and new Volkswagen Passat, but we won't go there just now.

So, we decided to option the S60 with the sort of things you might option it with. We went for heated front seats ($325); laminated side windows ($525) and these reduce wind and road noise to nothing; air quality system ($550) which purges the stale air inside the car each time you unlock it; and a personal car communicator, which includes keyless entry and Volvo guard alarm ($1575).

Then we decided to push the boat right out and ask for the Driver Support Pack, which includes lane departure warning; distance alert; adaptive cruise control; collision warning with full autobrake; queue assist and blind spot indication system ($4990). Volvo then added its Teknik Pack, which includes sat-nav; active bending lights; park assist camera and high-performance multimedia ($5500). All of this pushes the list price up to $65,415 which, while it is a lot of money, is actually pretty reasonable when you consider just how much stuff you get for your dosh and the fact the S60's competitors don't have the safety gear to match.

We've had the S60 for almost a month now and, to be honest, it hasn't seen a lot of action. What with people on holidays, off sick or attending car launches, etc its spent a lot of time in car parks. But that's all about to change.

The S60 is now in my hot little hands and I'm not going to let it go in a hurry. And the reason for that is not just because I'm greedy, but also because, even after only a day or two, I really enjoy driving it.

Powered by a 2.0-litre turbocharged four-cylinder, making 177kW (at 5500rpm) and 320Nm (from 1800-5000rpm) the S60 feels gruntier than those numbers might suggest. Indeed, there's a real sense the thing is straining at its leash, and that's not something you could ever have said about a Volvo.

That the oomph doesn't overwhelm the front-end is testament to just how hard Volvo has worked on the chassis, making a front-wheel drive feel more like an all-wheel drive than a traditional tail dragger. Sure there's a bit of weight in the wheel but no more than you'd get in an Audi, and the weighting is consistent, so at least it's something you can get used to. That said, a little bit more feel through the wheel wouldn't go astray.

I haven't had to put fuel into the thing yet, but I reckon the manufacturer's claim of 8.3L/100km wouldn't be too far off the mark. And the six-speed Powershift transmission is easily the best dual-clutch transmission I've ever experienced. Too often these things can be jerky at low speed, not so the S60; although there is the slightest delay when moving off from stationary. Other than that, it's excellent; the shift is fast and smooth, and when you're pushing a little bit it'll hold onto gears a little longer endowing the S60 with an incredibly sporty feeling.

And the ride is excellent too. It's firm without being hard, which is something you can't say about its competitors at Audi and BMW – it's compliant, yes, that's the word I'm looking for. The seats add to the comfort of the car by being soft and supportive, and the leather seems hardwearing. We'll know for sure once I've let my toddler loose in the back.

Given I've only been driving the car for a few days I haven't had a chance to play with all of the bits and pieces this car's been fitted with. But I have mucked about with the forward camera, which allows you to see around parked cars. Sort of. Basically, there's a camera poking out discreetly from the S60's nose that, when you're edging out of a driveway with cars parked on either side, allows you to see if there's any traffic coming. It saves having your nose taken off. And it seems to work pretty well.

One thing that doesn't seem to work all that well is the sat-nav. Maybe it's just me, and that's probably the case, but it takes me ages to set a destination and I can't work out how to cancel the destination half way through… so, for the last three days I've had a destination on pause with no idea how to cancel it. More than that, when I was only three kilometres from work, the sat-nav was trying to tell me I still had 47km to go. Hmmm. I'll put that down to a technical glitch and have a proper play around with the system on the weekend.

Next Instalment: We take the Volvo on a ski trip to find out if all that technology is as good as it's made out to be...

Volvo in the snow >

Tags:

Volvo, S60 T5, Medium, Reviews, Station-wagon, Large, Medium, S60, Long-term-test, Motoring Feed

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