Can the 2014 Volvo S60 T6 AWD help revive Volvo’s popularity in North America?
- Volvo is the safety king
- Urban environment-friendly size
- Evolutionary styling will appeal to Volvo’s loyal customers
- New company ownership makes some nervous
- Lack of four-cylinder engine option
- Limited dealer network
The Volvo Group’s automotive division has been struggling to maintain its popularity in North America for the last few years. This is largely due to the fact that the company had changed ownership and had seemingly been abandoned by its previous owner, the Ford Motor Company. Add to this what appeared to be a stagnant model lineup and a shrinking dealer network, and things started to look grim for the stalwart of passenger safety.
As we enter 2014, there seems to be a flicker of hope for the stoic brand as the company has significantly refreshed the top end of its model lineup, including the S60 and S80 sedans, the XC60 crossover, and XC70 wagon.
I recently got behind the wheel of the new top-of-the-line S60 T6 fitted with the excellent Instant Traction All-Wheel-Drive system.
There have been significant revisions to the car’s exterior, but Volvo purists like my father, will appreciate that the company’s design team has stayed relatively true to the original model with regards to both styling and overall dimensions.
The car has been fitted with all-new bodywork from the windshield forward. There is a shapely new hood, wide front fenders, and an enlarged grille bookmarked by elongated headlights. A stylish new front fascia sports a larger air intake, bright accent trim, and horizontally mounted LED daytime running lights.
At the rear of the car the taillights have been enlarged and a pair of integrated exhaust pipes peek out from beneath a revised bumper shroud. Gone is the deeply stepped waistline that gave the rear of the first generation car much of its visual appeal, but the new version now features a pronounced character line that is carried the full length of the car bridging the fenders.
The Polestar option increases the boost pressure of the turbocharger, re-optimizes ignition- and fuel-mapping, and sharpens throttle response. Enthusiast drivers will adore it, but my father was concerned that it was overkill.
My parents have been driving Volvo products for the last 25 years. They were initially attracted to the Volvo brand by the company’s reputation as an innovator in passenger safety, and I am thankful for this, as they were fortunate to have survived a horrendous accident without injuries while travelling in their 1988 Volvo 760. The car was a write off, but my parents were not, so it came as no surprise to me that they replaced their crumpled car with a then new, 2001 Volvo S60 2.4T. This car continues to serve them well, but recently my father expressed an interest in getting a new car, so when the opportunity came to get behind the wheel of the latest version of the S60, he was excited to check it out.
“I really like the look of the new car. It is has a more modern appearance, but is obviously a Volvo,” offered my father. “It feels familiar to me, which I like.”
In his former life as a dentist, my father was a detail man and a craftsman, so he appreciates quality workmanship when he sees it.
“The level of fit and finish is really impressive throughout the car. I really like the design of the new dash and the clever instrument display.”
The display which caught his appreciative eye is a new adaptive digital instrument cluster which features three distinct themes, all of which give the cockpit a high-tech appearance. Other highlights include Volvo’s first paddle shifters and a dash-mounted 7-inch colour display screen which helps keep the driver apprised of various system functions and user settings. The test unit also featured the basic suite of Volvo safety technologies including a new radar-based Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) , Cross Traffic Alert, and a Rear Park Assist camera.
Both of my parents enjoy taking long road trips, so cabin comfort is a necessity.
“The seats are very comfortable and there is more room in the back seat area and trunk,” piped in my mother. “I think Volvo have done an excellent job with the redesign of this car.”
Power: 325-hp 3.0L Engine
During our test drive it became apparent that my father felt at home behind the wheel of the T6, but he wasn’t sure if he felt the need for the full 325-horsepower and 355 lb.-ft. of torque produced by the 3.0-litre turbocharged inline six-cylinder engine that had been tweaked with the Polestar Performance software upgrade. The Polestar option increases the boost pressure of the turbocharger, re-optimizes ignition- and fuel-mapping, and sharpens throttle response. Enthusiast drivers will adore it, but my father was concerned that it was overkill.
“This car performs wonderfully on the road, and the six-speed gearbox was really smooth. I like the idea of the all-wheel-drive system given the fact that we live in an area with lots of snow and rain. Overall, the car handles well, and has plenty of power, but I think I would appreciate a model with a little less horsepower in order to get better fuel economy.”
Luckily for him, it appears that a new wave of four-cylinder turbo-charged engines are on Volvo’s horizon partnered with an ultra-efficient eight-speed gearbox. This is great news, as it means my parents’ love affair with the curvaceous Swede may continue in the near future.
2014 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Technical Specifications:
Base price (MSRP): $47,550 CAD
As tested price: $51,695 CAD
Type: All-wheel-drive, front-engine, mid-size sedan
Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged, inline six-cylinder engine
Horsepower: 300 hp @ 5,600 rpm (325-hp w Polestar)
Torque: 325 lb.-ft. @ 2,100 rpm (355 lb-ft w Polestar)
Transmission: 6-Speed automatic transmission
Brakes: Front and rear disc with ABS
Fuel economy (L/100km): City 11.7 L (24.1 mpg); Hwy 8.1 L (34.9 mpg)