2011 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Road Test Review

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For a number of years now Volvo has tried, with limited success, to crack the high-performance market. When you've made your bones as the safety innovator, then suddenly try to convince everyone you're credible in the sporting department too, that's no easy task.

Volvo even introduced "R" versions of its last generation S60 and V70 models, hoping to bridge the gap between its safety reputation and performance aspirations, but to no avail. Even with modest goals, the "R" cars simply didn't sell. Looking to move only 3,800 units, a mere 1,600 "R" cars found takers. Still though, that isn't the end of the high performance Volvo. Spend a day with the 2011 S60, you'll find new meaning in the literal translation of the word Volvo, which means, "I roll" in Latin.

The 2011 S60 does indeed roll, motivated by a 300 horsepower 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine, which also produces 325 ft-lbs of torque at just 2,100 rpm. Nail the throttle, all four wheels propel the sleek sedan forward like they're being fed by a small-block V8. The car rushes forward. We clocked an unofficial run to 100 km/h in just over 5 seconds.

Yes y'all, the "R" car lives.

Three suspension systems are offered, the Touring chassis emphasizes ride over handling, the Dynamic version favours handling over ride, and for those who want it all, Volvo's optional FOUR-C (Continuously Controlled Chassis Concept) allows drivers to set suspension response to suit the task at hand.

The car we tested was equipped with the Dynamic offering. We found it comfortable over rough patches and well controlled in cornering maneuvers. The only gripe was an excessive amount of tire roar. However, ride was both smooth and comfortable, in addition to entertaining. The S60's steering exhibited sharply accurate turn-in and the readily modulated brakes contributed beautifully to the experience. The Volvo's prowess on twisting roads is aided by a system tagged "Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring". Redistributing engine torque to the outside wheels in a turn, CTCTV reduces understeer and makes the all-wheel drive Volvo corner tightly.

Capably obedient to an enthusiastic driver, the 2011 Volvo S60 is unquestionably a sports sedan of the first order, one requiring no compromising of comfort or safety. After well over eight hours of driving the 2011 Volvo S60, we felt no fatigue whatsoever. Much of this is due to the S60's seating. Both handsome and comfortable, the seats are nicely firm, well bolstered and remarkably supportive. Over an entire day, there was no fidgeting to find a comfortable position. One simply settles into the seats and drives the car. It's like the feeling you get from slipping into a well-worn pair of jeans, stylish, yet ready for whatever.

Still though, safety is Volvo's primary aim. The S60 introduces yet another first in that arena. "Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake" uses radar and a camera to spot pedestrians in the path of the car. At speeds of up to 35 km/h, the system will stop the car if it is about to hit a person. Volvo officials say the company has an overarching goal to completely eliminate fatalities in its products by 2020.

That all this is wrapped in one of the most sensuous automotive bodies on the road is yet another plus. The 2011 S60, starting at just $45,450, is a Volvo standing proudly in the mid-size luxury sport sedan segment, and deservedly so.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Sport Sedan, Volvo, 2011, S60, $40,000 - $49,999,

Organizations: Volvo

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