Test Drive: VOLVO S60
If you remember our review of theHonda City Automatic a few weeks ago, you’d recall us complaining about it not being engaging enough. It seems that someone from Volvo was reading our piece. For last weekend, we had ourselves a Volvo S60 that kept us very engaged at every step of our drive and was by far one of the most fun cars that we’ve driven to date.
After the car was delivered to our office for a test drive, we had to call in our rocket scientist (no jokes, he’s ex-NASA) Ulysse Nardin Michelangelo sportingCar & Watch Editor, Karan Jain, to help us get familiar with the controls of the car which certainly aren’t intuitive. He did do so and after that took the wheel and whipped all the 163 horses into submission while mercilessly lapping the car around Ballard Estate with frightening precision and brilliant control. He handed the car back to me and after a while of settling down, the Volvo S60 no longer seems an intimidating or complicated ride, but rather one which takes just a little getting used to.
The Volvo S60 D3 is a five-cylinder 1984cc turbodiesel engine. We drove the six-speed automatic which has a very muscular exterior. The front of the car, and we’re going to stick our necks out here, could on a very foggy day and with poor visibility be mistaken for a Jaguar. It is a low slung car which is why each time we went over annoyingly high speed breakers, we clutched the steering tightly anticipating a nasty bump on our buttocks that thankfully in most cases never did come. As for the interiors, they are plush with a flowing centre console, an electronic parking brake replacing an ugly stick in between the front seats and powered driver and front passenger seats, with a television screen stuck into the back of the headrests of both.
The drive quality of the car is excellent, with the gap to gear ratio being spot on. It isn’t the fastest of cars on the road. But it has an immense amount of torque that is released at the slightest tap of the throttle, especially when you touch 2,000rpm. It isn’t maximum speed that’s a talking point for this car, it’s the acceleration which is blisteringly quick. To make sure you don’t get too carried away with all that torque, you get a dynamic stability and traction control system, an anti-collision safety feature to avoid low speed collisions and airbags as standard. At 2090kg it is a heavy car, but besides feedback of its obesity coming in from the steering wheel, its weight also works to its advantage by making sure it’s planted at high speeds and helps the car hold the line when cornering at high speeds.
In between thoughts of speeds of 150kph, which were achieved flawlessly, there was one more worrying thought. It had to do with a certain Pranab Mukherjee from Delhi. In the budget presented recently, he increased the tax on all imported cars from 60 to 75 per cent. That’s bad news for Volvo who import all their cars (this includes, the S60, S80 and XC60). Granted the price hike on the Volvo aren’t as ludicrous as the additional Rs 46 lakhs you’ll now be paying to import a Ferrari 458 Italia. Still, the Volvo price hikes aren’t exactly mild. You’d now have to pay approximately Rs 1 lakh more for the S60, which post the budget costs Rs 25lakhs (ex-showroom Delhi). Thoughts that Volvo had at least read the Indian market right by introducing a diesel variant, which in spite of all the muscle and power, still delivered a respectable 15kmpl on an average went a long way in assuring us that the case for Volvo was still strong.
The deciding factor is this. It is priced in the segment of the entry level 3-series and C-class. Would you then go in for a bare-bones entry-level BMW and Mercedes or a fully loaded luxurious Volvo?