Have It All | Volvo S60 T5 Drive E

BY Azfar Hashim

The T5 engine makes an appearance in the S60 sedan now, and we think it’s a genuinely sweet proposition

Photos: Azfar Hashim

When you think executive sedan, the first models that would naturally pop up in mind would be the 3 Series, C-Class and A4. And nothing else. Well it could be brilliance in engineering or marketing, or even both, but whatever the three Germans churn out, it would sell like hotcakes.

Which is a little unfortunate for other brands, to be sidelined by silly Singaporeans who are more brand-conscious than value-conscious; because, if they are really value-conscious, Volvo’s S60 would definitely spring to mind first. And why so? Very simply, this Swede offers so much for not so much moolah.

Case in point: That $190k asking price, with COE already included. The 328i M-Sport is going for $246,800, the C250 AMG Line for $245,888 and A4 2.0 TFSI for $232,350. See where I’m getting at here?

And this facelift officially makes it even more pleasing to the eye. On top of that, you still have a very spacious cabin with comfortable and equally supportive seats for all; and oh, let’s not forget the fantastic build quality as well. Speaking of which, despite having the shortest wheelbase here (2,776 mm), the S60 seem to provide the most leg and headroom compared to the other three Germans.

The cockpit deserves praise too, seeing how every control buttons are easy to reach and logically placed for the driver to reach. Paddle-shifter also comes standard here (finally!) – however, I still think the steering wheel is a tad too big for my personal liking.

Like the XC60 we’ve reviewed previously, the S60 now comes with Volvo’s new generation ‘T5’ turbocharged 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder lump. Mated to a new 8-speed transmission, it whips out 241 bhp and 350 Nm of torque, does the zero to hero sprint in 6.3 seconds and maxes out at 230 km/h.

Numbers aside, it’s surprisingly quick and willing. Floor the accelerator when the light turns green and watch as you gather speed rapidly and accelerate ahead of the rest of traffic; at the same time, you get an inspiring note from the engine, something you rarely hear from a Volvo. To be frank, it sounds much better than a 328i’s and C250’s even.

The transmission is equally responsive when left to run on its own, with eight ratios spread across evenly to make use of every single bit of the engine’s capability. Although you have the option to swap your own gears via the paddle-shifter, you won’t really want to do so; mainly because the response from the time you actually shift up or down to the time the gear is actually engaged seem a little too long; in this aspect, the Germans have gotten it all right. Well I tried to get the hang of it, but every single attempt left me unsatisfied; I ended up using it only to downshift and then let the gearbox shift up on its own after that.

Handling wise, the S60 feels capable and sharp, with predictable body movements to let you know when you’re breaching the laws of physics – something even enthusiastic drivers could accept and live with. The test car came fitted with optional 19-inch wheels wrapped in 225/40 R-19 Continental ContiSportContact5 rubbers which provided additional grip, but the downside here is the stiffer ride that might make things a wee bit uncomfortable after a long day at work…

Besides the standard Eco mode and auto start/stop, Volvo also allows you to pick your own preferred steering weight. ‘Steering Force Level’ allows you to choose between Low, Medium and High; Low is perfect for city driving while High is well-suited for cruising along the highway. This feature, to me personally, is certainly thoughtful – for a household with only one car and multiple drivers, each driver would be able to select their own preference.

As a whole, this Volvo S60 T5 presents itself as a capable Continental sedan that performs respectably with a handling characteristic that’s not far off the three Germans. It comes with a decent amount of equipment list, super comfy seats that teaches the three Germans a lesson or two but most importantly, shows what exactly is ‘value-for-money’. It’d be foolish to dismiss this car.