Volvo is present in the Indian Market since 2007. Unfortunately, both the S80 and XC90 models have failed to make any serious inroads in the German dominated territory. This was not going to deter the Scandinavian giant and they decided to hurt the German trio where it would hurt them the most – Sports Sedans.
On March 11, 2011 Volvo brought its ‘Sportiest Ever’ sedan - the S60 in the Indian Market and immediately received 100 bookings in just a week.
Considering each Volvo S60 T6 is for 36 lakhs a pop, we wanted to find out what Volvo the S60 is all about. So we got ourselves a media car and got cracking!!
WHAT?? That’s a Volvo? Looks Insane!
Yes it does, there is absolutely no denying that. In order to take the Germans down, the car should have a massive road presence. The old S60 was a lot short on the road presence factor. So the car designers had their work cut out for them and boy did they deliver.
An English philosopher once said, “There is no excellent beauty that hath not some strangeness in the proportion”. This car seems to be designed by the very same guy because gosh it looks absolutely stunning!
Gone are the bland lines and dull looking headlamps that old Volvos used to have and they are replaced with aggressive and sharper lines flowing throughout the body. The S60 looks as if it is going at a 200 km/hr even when it is stationary.
I took the car through the Thane city and almost everyone at the lights gave me a second look and I thoroughly enjoyed them. One biker actually knocked on the window and gave me thumbs up. I guess that sums up the looks of the car – A Big Thumbs Up!
Looks Hot, but does go as good as it looks?
The test car we had was the T6 version. The heart of the T6 comprises of a 3 liter, inline 6 cylinder with a turbocharger on top to provide a massive oomph of 304hp and 440Nm of torque. No Germans in that segment can match that output. Put your foot down and suddenly everything in your rear view mirror turns microscopic – It’s almost magic!
There is no massive explosion of power that you get in a BMW but the power is delivered smoothly through a 6 speed automatic transmission. 0-100 km/hr in 6.5 seconds and the engine keeps on pushing the car to an alleged, electronically limited top speed of 250 km/hr. The best part about the power is that it is very much usable. The peak torque is kept very much under the 3000 rpm mark.
Overtaking in this vehicle is a joy. Adding to that joy is the ‘Adaptive Geartronic’ gearbox. When you are generally trundling along the highway, the gearbox does its job of shifting cogs normally at 2000 odd rpm. But if you suddenly put your foot down, the car recognizes that you are trying to overtake someone and will hold the rpms high.
But sorry racerboys, there are no paddle shifters behind the steering. But you can use the tiptronic mode, if you prefer stick shift to an automatic gearbox. Personally, I would let the gearbox do its job because it does its job the best.
What about the handling?
This is a pretty wide car to drive through the city but the well balanced steering wheel does its job perfectly. Because it is speed sensitive, it is very responsive and very precise thus making sharp turns effortless. Adding further to the joy of driving, this car comes with an electronic AWD system which does a 95/5 front-to-rear torque distribution. But it can send all thepower to the rear wheels if needed.
The suspension can be set up in 3 modes – Comfort, Sport and Advance. Plus, the 18 inches low profile tyres make the car the best handling Volvo ever.
How is it like being inside the car?
The ‘Flowing lines’ philosophy is carried inside the car as well with the center console looking like a little waterfall inside the car. The build quality and the materials used are definitely top notch and at par with the German rivals.
The one thing that is better than the German rivals is the simplicity of the interiors. Everything is where it should be and everything is clearly marked with what it can do. I kid you not, you can learn all the settings and buttons in under 10 minutes
The front seats are very comfy and provide adequate support for long journeys. The dead pedal makes mile crunching so much easier. The moonroof adds a nice zing to your drives. Of course, it has all the regular features such as climate control, rear view camera, etc
What about entertainment?
Entertainment buffs will be thoroughly satisfied with this car because it has 12 speakers, Volvo premium sound system with Dolby Pro-logic. It has an Aux port and USB support along with a 5 inch screen just in case you want to watch a movie. Unfortunately, the display lacks touch-screen functionality but the steering mounted controls more than make up for it.
The car also comes with an in-built satellite navigation software but it was a bit too confusing to operate. We relied on common sense instead to find our way.
Have they compromised on the safety aspect to make it more ‘Sporty’?
Surely not! This is probably the safest sedan in that particular segment as of right now. The list of safety technologies is so huge that it would have taken me a year to explain you each and every functionality.
The most interesting one was the Pedestrian Detection system in which a front mounted camera scans the road and if it finds any pedestrian in the way, it will automatically apply the brakes to bring you either to a dead stop or slowdown the speed of impact depending on your vehicle speed.
Sure, it has the regular safety features such as alertness monitoring system, blind spot warning system, park assist and adaptive cruise control. For a full list please visit: http://www.volvocars.com/in/all-cars/volvo-s80/details/pages/features.aspx
Anything that I will not like?
I suppose there are few irritating little foibles in the car. Remember that I come from an Indian background:
- First, the indicators are on the wrong side. So every time you indicate to go left, you end up cleaning the windshield.
- The NVH levels could be improved. Because of the low profile tires, there is a lot of rustling noise in the cabin.
- The backseat is not very spacious and an average 5.10 guy can feel a bit cramped. Volvo, will you consider the long-wheelbase model for India if China gets one?
- The different types of warning systems are good if you are not concentrating. But when you are really concentrating hard on driving, the pings and flashing lights can get a bit nanny-ish.
- The high performance version of this car is only available in petrol so expect a single digit fuel economy figure. You can have the car in a diesel engine - D5 Kinetic priced at 27 lakhs, D5 Summum priced at 32 lakhs but don’t expect a T6 level of performance from them.
- How can Volvo India forget to give a spare wheel in a car this expensive?
- The horn – the biggest safety on the Indian roads – is very tough to depress. It does take time to get used to the same.
- It may be the sportiest Volvo ever but it is certainly not the sportiest car in that segment. The BMW 3 Series still edges ahead in terms of handling skills.
Where do I test drive it? I don’t see any dealership
I admit there are very limited dealerships of Volvo in India. But Volvo should take it up seriously to get establish more outlets now that they have four products. It is going to take some time, but every manufacturer has to go through this phase. Eventually, I am sure, Volvo will get there.
Any last thoughts?
I just wish Volvo hadn’t marketed it as the ‘Sporty Sedan’ but instead marketed it as Grand Tourer cause the S60 T6 is just a perfect car for endless mile crunching. The suspension could have been softened a wee bit to make it a perfect long distance cruiser.
In India, where BMWs, Audis and Mercedes’ are becoming a very daily thing, the Volvo S60 garners more attention because of its exclusivity. The lucky owners will enjoy the swooshing performance coupled with the occasional thumbs up from the fellow road users.
Overall, the car did leave us wanting for more of it!
Definitely a Thumbs Up!
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