New car report: Don't try this at home.
Well, it’s a Volvo so of course it’s safe. However, Volvo's online ad campaign showing Johnny Reid lapping the Hampton Downs race circuit blindfolded is not something we recommend you try at home.
If there’s one job the people at Volvo's headquarters in Gothenburg have excelled at, that’s getting across to us the message that their cars are safe. Volvo maintains that by 2020 they will be able to build cars in which no occupants will suffer serious injury or loss of life. These cars will incorporate many of the electronic crash avoidance systems already available in their cars today; but more on that later.
Recently appointed General Manager for Volvo New Zealand, Steve Kenchington opened his presentation to the motoring media at the local launch of the new S60 not with the safety message, but instead, by talking about styling and performance.
He says that the new S60 is the most important new product in the history of the company. “We need to change the perception to take the brand forward,” he said. “The S60 offers the most exciting and dynamic drive of any Volvo. Safety will always be Volvo’s strong suit, but now styling and power are key features too.”
Admitting that the brand has been in the wilderness in this part of the world for a while, he says the biggest job he has to do with the S60 is to get it on the consideration list. But he has big plans for the brand, hoping to double the sales volume in 2011 to around 300 units from the present 150 or so.
Mr Kenchington says that while he has premium brands such as BMW, Audi and Mercedes-Benz in his sights, this territory is hard to break into and says he has managed to get S60 pricing at a level where buyers of high end mainstream brands such as Volkswagen, Peugeot and Subaru may also consider the Swedish brand.
Clarifying the nomenclature.
As in the past, the higher the model number, the larger the car, so as we’ve come to understand, an S60 will be a bigger car than an S30 for example.
But now we also have a new engine clarification. Petrol engines carry a “T” prefix and diesel engines start with “D.” The numerical designation that follows, now tells us what power band the engine falls into. As an example, if an engine carries the number 5, it will fall into a power range of between 150kW to 190kW, and the number 6 tells us the power output is between 190kW to 225kW.
For the New Zealand market, the S60 will be offered with three engines, a 151kW D5, a 177kW T5 and a 224kW T6.
All models have a six speed automatic transmission, with the 4 cylinder 2.0 litre FWD T5 being equipped with a double clutch Powershift gearbox, while AWD models, the 5 cylinder 2.4 litre D5 and V6, 3.0 litre T6 have a more conventional Adaptive Transmission which Volvo calls Geartronic.
It has style, performance, handling and.... oh, yes, safety!
Stylish, well equipped and with a high class feel about it, the S60 offers a very good balance between comfort, handling and performance. The ride quality is firm but not too hard and handling on twisty back roads is impressive for a car of this size. The AWD models are incredibly well glued down, and the FWD behaves pretty well too.
All three models have more than adequate power which for each of the three models offers the best kW per dollar when compared against the natural competitors in the market
Standard features across the range are impressive, with all having Bluetooth, Aux and USB. An electrically adjustable driver’s seat, Rear Park Assist and Rain sensing wipers are standard for all models, while the T6 adds Front Parking Aid, Navigation, a Premium Multmedia system, and an electric seat for the passenger
T5 and D5 models are fitted with 17 inch Njord alloy wheels and the T6 has 18 inch Sleipner alloys.
A number of options are offered, which Volvo is bundling together into packs, keeping the price of the various add-ons to a more reasonable level. A Teknik Pack for the D5 and T5, which includes Navigation, Active Bending Lights (ABL), headlight wash, Park Assist Camera and the fancy Multimedia system would retail for $9,935 as individual items, but buy the pack and they’re yours for $6,050.
The Driver Support Pack which gives you an array of high tech safety systems, is $5,490 when bought as a pack or $8,270 as individual items.
And talking about safety – it’s a Volvo remember – there is just about every safety system that’s ever been invented offered either as standard equipment or through the Driver Support Pack.
City Safety is a system we first saw on Volvo’s XC60 back in 2009. Applying the brakes in the event an inattentive driver fails to notice stationary traffic ahead, it is now standard across the S60 range too.
Some clever features in the optional Driver Support Pack include Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) with Full Auto Braking and Queue Assist, enabling the vehicle to be driven in stop/start traffic without applying the throttle or brake pedal, stopping and starting with the traffic.
The system also includes Pedestrian Detection, which through a series of radar sensors and a camera, identifies pedestrians in a potentially hazardous location, and applies the brakes to prevent pedestrian impact.
Other features include Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) and Lane Departure Warning with Driver Alert Control. These systems alert the driver if another vehicle is in the blind spot on the motorway for example, or if they are wandering within or departing from their lane.
All models have a maximum towing capacity of 750kg unbraked or 1,800kg braked and pricing starts at $63,990 for the T5, through to $71,990 and $79,990 for the D5 and T6 respectively.