2021 Volvo S60 road test review

Tuhin Guha Updated: December 28, 2020, 02:47 PM IST

You can't not like a modern Volvo. Their brand of luxury motoring seems to want you to slow down and smell the automotive roses so to speak. The decidedly Scandinavian aesthetic of the cars also seems to drive home this mantra. So when it was said that the new Volvo S60 would be the sportiest of all its cars, I didn't know what to expect.

But after what seems like an interminable wait, we can now find out. The third-gen S60 is finally ready for an India debut with bookings opening in January 2021 and the car going on sale in March.

Volvo S60 Design

The look of the new S60 seems to convey this rediscovered sporting intent almost perfectly. It's still kept the refined, minimalistic vibe that makes a Volvo stand out in a crowd, but subtle details like the deep elliptical bars on the grille or the more rakish LED headlamps with the inner edges of the DRLs now breaking out of the cluster add a dose of restrained aggression that is very appealing. Similarly at the rear, the double-C motifs in the tail lamps have been made sharper than on the S90 while you have the dual exhaust tips prominently displayed in the bumper.

These details aside, Volvo's designers have done well to not make the S60 look like little more than a scaled-down S90, even though both share the larger SPA architecture. The new S60 is by far the largest car in this segment by way of this, longer(4,761 mm), wider(1850 mm) and lower(1431 mm) than anything else. The fairly straightforward three-box shape on this large footprint has been peppered with elements like the sharp creases on the bonnet and the upward kink to the glasshouse at the rear. Most noticeable, and effective, is the sharp bodylines over the rear flanks which bring more focus to the new S60's determined stance.

Volvo S60 Interiors

The interiors of the S60 draw a more traditional line, sticking to Volvo's very effective formula of simple surfaces, light colours and contrasting materials. As always, the 9.0-inch Sensus touchscreen, angled toward the driver, is the centre of attention. Striking to look at and with slick responses, we only wish it was a bit more intuitively laid out especially since most of the car's functions are controlled through here.

Other than this, most of the reasons we like Volvo's interiors so much apply here too. So everything that looks like metal and wood, feels like metal and wood. All the controls have a crispness and tactility to them and fit and finish is what you would expect in this segment. For the patches of dark plastic around the door pads, some more contrasting wood would be perfect to make them less conspicuous, although in the S60's defence all the touchpoints are soft to the feel. There's no dearth of charge points for your devices, although larger storage bins in the centre console and doors would have been welcome. Surprisingly, there isn't any multicolour ambient lighting on offer, which can make the interiors feel a bit too dark at night.

But with its segment-leading 2872mm wheelbase, the S60's interior's best quality is the space it offers. The one-piece front seats with their cushion extensions and 4-way lumbar support are some of the most comfortable around, but the big highlight is the rear seat. There are masses of legroom here and a wide, supportive bench, although getting into them is a bit of a drop.

Volvo Cars India will offer the S60 is a single top-spec Inscription variant. This adds some tasty features to an already impressive cabin. Standard is a panoramic sunroof, four-zone climate control, wireless charging and Harman Kardon audio.

Volvo S60 Engine and Gearbox

With Volvo rapidly moving to a fully electrified lineup globally, the S60 is the first car from the brand to be only available with petrol or electrified powertrains. India gets the S60 with the base T4 engine option, a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol with 190PS and 300 Nm. This pairs with an Aisin eight-speed torque converter.

Set off, and the S60's drivetrain immediately makes an impression with the sense of sophistication it brings to the driving experience. There's only a distant murmur to be heard and the sedan makes uninterrupted progress whether in start-stop city traffic or out on the open road. The engine delivers a clean, consistent slug of torque right from idle to the redline, with only what feels like a slightly enhanced thrum letting you know it's hard at work. In fact, if you were hoping for the mid-range torque thrills that many other such engines provide, you will be disappointed here. But, this more sedate power delivery doesn't seem to have slowed down the S60 too much and if anything seems to go quite well with its attentive road manners.

The big revelation though is the eight-speed automatic that feeds power to the front wheels. This gearbox was never a lethargic one but seems to be much more attentive than in other Volvo's we've driven in the past. It's largely seamless in regular driving with almost imperceptible upshifts and downshifts that are accompanied by only the smallest of delays. Even when you are pushing hard, the gearbox seems up for it irrespective of the drive mode it is in, holding revs right up to the redline.

This eagerness brings more focus to the absence of paddle shifters, which would have made for a fully engaging experience for keener drivers. There is a manual mode through the gear shifter, though even here the 'box will override your choices in the interest of self-preservation. But with how intuitive the gearbox is, you learn to leave it to its devices very soon.

Volvo S60 Ride and handling

On the move, the new S60 does well to meet its brief as a Volvo for the driver, 'Volvo' being the operative word here. This means that in the daily grind, the sedan flows along the road with a sense of calm and poise that is one of the best in this class. Whether on the way to work or on a highway cruise, the S60's suspension handles our rutted streets without much complaint. At high speeds, it feels steady and confident with not many movements entering the cabin. Bumps are more apparent at slower speeds but even these are handled with a soft edge to them that never makes the experience uncomfortable.

There is even something here for the casual enthusiast. Up the twisties, the S60 is impressive in the way it finds its way around a set of corners. It doesn't have the almost perfect balance of an RWD 3-Series but the FWD offers far more grip than you expect from an average FWD car. It tips into corners a bit languidly but then holds on quite confidently, even if it can feel a touch nose-heavy when driven hard. The fact that it does this without any of the latest in torque-vectoring tech or a trick front diff is commendable. Only the hardened driver will be left a bit cold here by the S60's steering, its light and precise around town or in regular driving, but doesn't quite offer the feedback or heft to make for a completely engaging experience.

Volvo S60 Safety

There are no surprises here with the Volvo S60 offering the most comprehensive safety package of any car in this segment. A full suite of advanced driver assistance systems is available including adaptive cruise, a front collision avoidance system, lane-keeping aid, and the pilot assist driving assistant. Of course, there is are the requisite front, side and curtain airbags.

Volvo S60 Expected Price and Verdict

The Volvo S60 is a car with some reward for the driver, but its appeal is quite different from the more sharp-edged experience that its peers in the segment provide. The S60 has put its own spin on what makes for a 'fun' car, keeping the serene experience that Volvos are so good at intact. As an everyday luxury sedan, it checks most of the boxes in this way. Some minor oversights in the interior and more reactive steering are the only things that we would like changed. But Volvo Cars India has a knack of pricing its cars very well. At the Rs 40 lakh that we expect it to be priced at, the S60 should be a very appealing proposition.

Volvo S60 Real-World Performance and Efficiency

City fuel efficiency - 9.8 kmpl
Highway fuel efficiency - 15 kmpl

0-100 kmph - 9.1s

30-50 kmph - 1.8s
50-70 kmph - 2.0s
60-80 kmph - 2.4s

100-0 kmph - 46.2m/3.1s

Price (Ex-Delhi)
Max Power(ps)
Max Torque(Nm)