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Volvo S60 – fun to drive

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DETROIT – Recently I had seen numerous TV commercials advertising the new Volvo S60 sedan. What I took note of was that Volvo was finally putting some advertising dollars behind its impressive midsize sedan.

Perhaps I missed it, but to me that was something that should have been done late last spring. That’s when I first test drove the Volvo S60 in San Francisco. Perhaps due to the completion of the deal selling Volvo to Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., a Chinese automobile manufacturer, other business concerns took precedent.

Whatever, after the week I spent test driving the Volvo S60 my opinion has not changed: the midsize sedan was sporty; it lived up to Volvo’s brand heritage as solidly built and it was an awful lot of fun to drive. That’s a major change for Volvo which is known for its safe but stoic personality.

Anyway, my test vehicle was powered by a 3.0-liter turbocharged six cylinder engine that made 300 horsepower and a very healthy 325 foot-pounds of torque. The engine was mated to a six-speed transmission and my test car had all-wheel-drive.

Buyers of S60s have their choice of three separate chassis: Dynamic, Touring Class and Four-C. I had the Four-C Chassis. In Volvo-speak, it continuously adjusted the dampers to “the current driving conditions.” I took that to mean road surfaces.

Still, no matter the ride setting I used in my test vehicle: Comfort, Sport or Advanced, my Volvo S60 had a sporty ride. There was little bounce in the firm dampers and as my test with the Four-C chassis ride selector went from Comfort to Sport to Advanced the S60’s ride got firmer and firmer.

Volvo’s Corner Traction Control by Torque Vectoring which redistributed torque to the outer wheels made cornering awfully crisp. I felt like the S60 was glued to pavement in the turns. Really, front wheel response to steering wheel input was sports car quick.

Styling was great, it was evolutionary but the changes had a major impact. Still, the differences between old and new were very subtle. The new car was rounder, had a raked windshield, a bigger grille and iron work badge and a coupe-like silhouette on a S60 sedan. LEDs were also employed on the head and taillights.

Innovations like Pedestrian Detection keep Volvo at the safety forefront. The system will bring the S60 to a full stop when a pedestrian is detected. Lane departure warning, collision warning, driver alert, distance alert and adaptive cruise control completed the technology package. And a moonroof, adaptive dual Xenon headlights and a power passenger front passenger seat comprised the Premium Package.

The audio system had satellite radio, CD and DVD player with WMA and MP3 capability and illuminated steering wheel controls. For $43,450, I thought the S60 was reasonably priced.

Frank S. Washington is managing partner/editor of AboutThatCar.com.


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