Review: 2012 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design

Posted on 13. Dec, 2011 by in Auto News

Although it may not be obvious from my review of the T5, I really, really want to like the S60. Why? Because unlike the Audi and BMW, with which it intended to compete, it's not the obvious choice. We live cognoscenti to raise hidden treasures, great cars, of which the general public is not aware. Volvo uses are to be road map to the general public, but fell during the Ford ownership. For the driving enthusiast who is 325-PS-2012 S60 T6 R-Design is the most promising Volvo in quite some time, maybe forever. Can interpret his statements go toe-to-toe with the Audi S4. And?

Ever since the groudbreaking 1983 5000, Audi has been a leader in automotive design. However, we see it, they have no new ground recently. The current S4 is attractive, but also safe. With the latest S60, Volvo tried. From its traditional box without any visual connection to its past When she. Their clunky standard 17-inch wheels, the Volvo S60 is similar excessively some cars that cost far less than among them the Oldsmobile Alero from a decade ago and the 2006-2011 Civic The R-Design treatment helps the upscale sedan. With a subtle bodykit and bi-color five-spoke 18-inch wheels Some people will take exception with distended mouth of the Volvo, but overall it is a sporty-elegant sedan that looks like nothing else in the segment.

The interior will be familiar to anyone who has been in a current Volvo. The style is minimalist and modern, with more character than you'll find in the Audi (or the other German small car). Materials are good, but just luxurious. My main problem with the cabin: the center console buttons for the infotainment system are hard to find and operate at first glance.

I first drove the new R-Design in Charleston, West Virginia, in the middle of a week in an Audi S4. Given the strong similarity between the two sedans' specs and streets far greater challenge than you'll find anywhere near Detroit, the time and location were ideal. The first thing I noticed after the ascent of the Audi and the Volvo: the discharge of its much-cushier still provided laterally and longitudinally supportive sport bucket seats. Later, while sampling a second S60 R-Design in Detroit, I had to wonder if the Volvo seats were overly squishy. But better too much than too little cushion as the Audi.

In my head, the S60 is a bigger car than a 335i or S4. But in reality it is in the same size class, and this is even more evident with the swoopier form the current car. While the Volvo's front seat feels roomier than the Audi, its rear seat, and mounted only small enough for a pair of average adult is much that a compact sedan. At 12 cubic feet, the trunk of the Volvo is not greater than the marginal'm Audi. But the Swedish sedan little more space in its center console and glove compartment. Neither is a useful measure in the Audi.

The real story with the S60 T6 R-Design is the engine, a turbocharged 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder transversely mounted by Polestar tuned to produce 325 hp at 6,500 rpm and 354 foot-pounds of torque at 3,000 revolutions per minute. The six is hard to fault, with no detectable, only a strong smooth rush of power, and was an exciting (but never intrusive) soundtrack. It's not quite as efficient as the latest direct competitors, with EPA ratings of 18 city, 26 highway (the S4 manages 18/28 with a seven-speed automated manual double-clutch gearbox). Around the burbs while babying the car the trip computer reported 23.5. Exercise the engine and the stat falls in the mid-teens (or even in the single digits when you enter the twin-scroll turbocharger no rest). Otherwise Volvo six is as good as any and better than most. Get only one cylinder than in the S60 T5, but so much better in almost every way.

Such an outstanding engine deserves a better partner than manually shiftable six-speed automatic. Although not a bad field of Aisin has a tendency to drag along the motor when they left on their own and shifts smoother and faster could left. To get the right equipment, you often have to intervene and no paddles are provided for the task, only the shifter. Currently, this transfer is mandatory: no automated dual-clutch transmission or conventional manual is offered. In the S5, you have the choice of either.

The R-design engine is strong enough for aggressive gas mapping is not necessary to exaggerate its potency. But Volvo has the car with the most aggressive gas mapping I've seen in the recent past provided. This does give the car a sporty character frankly that is too often missing from the current Lexusized cars but smooth starts require conscious effort. Go to the Volvo of another car, mindlessly on the gas to move the car and all heads can be snapped into the pillowy head restraints.

The issue of the S60 T6 R-Design steering can choose between three levels (but only if the car is not moving) can be varied. The difference is most noticeable at low speeds, where "light" and feeling "heavy", well, light and heavy. "Medium" is in between, but closer to "hard." I could not decide which I liked best mode, as the car feels more agile with "light", but with more planted "heavy." The amount of feedback is not strongly affected: there is more than in the last Volvo (including former R), but (of course) less sense a direct connection to the front wheels than I prefer.

Well, unfortunately, we come to the primary weakness of the S60 R-Design: its chassis. Swedish engineers have done their best to make the car is to mitigate inherent nose-heavy weight distribution (control kicks in after the slightest hint of wheelspin from the front and torque) with a performance-oriented Haldex-based all-wheel-drive system and brake-based torque vectoring. Push the car hard, and it is to keep your intended line. The tires make a difference: the West Virginia car dealer was equipped with ContiProContact all-seasons, while the press car was ContiSportContact 3 tires summer. The latter was much sharper than their higher limits have been raised. And only approached the boundaries of the vehicle must be understeer overwhelm the electronic countermeasures.

The problem with this approach, especially when driving the car moderately hard you can feel the electronics specifically the brakes to force the chassis, a line can not otherwise be possible to hold the position. Effective, but not nearly as transparent as some systems. The feeling is artificial and forced, rather than natural and fluid. They learn what is the chassis in a position, but you do not know it. In your gut Instead, keep your gut tell you the chassis is something else you like to plow for the outside shoulder. This said, the S60 has better feel the harder it is driven.

The Audi S4 on the other hand feels in addition to balanced acting balanced, although with most of his weight on his front wheels. An optional active differential allows progressive yet never excessive oversteer on the right foot the command. The Volvo Powertrain is less flexible. Audi and the brakes are much stronger than the Volvo. Add it all together, and the S4 along a mountain road are driven with a lot of precision and confidence.

The Volvo runs quieter than the more firmly sprung suspension and Audi, but this advantage is compromised by his poor control of body movements. Volvo takes the minor road imperfections better, it is the superior Interstate cruiser, but provoked more head to throw over larger bumps. Although certainly not nearly as raw, the Audi compared to the Volvo tuning reminds Detroit early attempts "European sport suspensions." Additional polish would be welcome.

The 2012 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design starts at $ 43,375. The car tested in West Virginia, with nav, excellent 650-watt audio system, heated seats, keyless entry and ignition and blind spot monitors, listed for $ 48,125. Not cheap, but a similarly equipped Audi S4 checks in $ 7,700 higher, even after a $ 450 adjustment for functional differences. At True Delta car price comparison tool So is not the Volvo could handle as good as the Audi, but it also does not cost nearly as much. On the other hand, is a G37x costs about $ 4,000 less than the Volvo, but not without its own shortcomings.

So the Volvo S60 T6 R-Design is fast and fun, but rough around the edges and try too hard. Compared to the Audi S4, it is more convenient, but less trustworthy. So it's not an obvious choice over the obvious choice. Instead, it is a good choice for those who want a high-performance premium compact sedan and comfort or simply do not want to prioritize their friends have the same car. For the rest of us … another round or two of fine tuning could do wonders.

The first car was tested provided by Chris Myers of Smith Company Motor Cars in Charleston, WV. Can be reached at 304-746-1792 Chris. The second was made by Volvo with a full tank and insurance available.

Michael Karesh operates, an online provider of car reliability and real-world fuel economy information.