2011 Volvo S60 R-Design Review And S60 Safety Technology Test Photo:
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What's Hot
Cool colour palette, potent powerplant and geek-street cred.
What's Not
Hasn?t shaken that ?Bloody Volvo? brand stigma.
Loaded with world-first tech and sexy style.
Samantha Stevens | Aug, 04 2011 | 2 Comments


Vehicle Style: Mid-size sporting sedan
Price: $69,150

Fuel Economy (claimed): 10.2l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 11l/100km (short route/test)



Volvo’s new S60 range reeks of style. With the S60 R-Design, it combines velvet lines with the iron punch of a turbo-six and world-first safety technologies.

And it does it for a shade under $70k. Sharp cars, stylish, and still leading in safety: in any way you look at it, the reinvented Volvo is back in town.

We put the super safety attributes of Volvo’s top-shelf turbo-six through its paces.



Quality: The S60 R-Design is all quality in the details. Smart Swedish design such as the floating centre console not only looks super-elegant but increases the impression of space.

The S60, in fact, is bigger than the outgoing model in track and even in headroom despite the sleek rear three-quarter (though the boot is slightly smaller).

Comfort: Trim is reminiscent of a stormtrooper’s uniform; a combination of dark grained leather with white pipe-textured inserts. Throughout are chrome highlights and lovely soft-touch surfaces (there’s also a wood-grain trim, but it’s extremely twee).

Equipment: The HMI (human-machine interface) combining sat-nav, audio, phone, tripmeter and Bluetooth in one package can thankfully be controlled by voice and steering wheel. The complexity of the centre deck can be a tad overwhelming.

Storage: A 60:40 split rear seat opens up the standard 380-litre boot, and a cargo net keeps stray shopping bags in place.



Driveability: Volvo has always been all about safety, and TMR was invited to taste some of its cool world-first tech at Sydney’s Eastern Creek’s skidpan and track.

The optional ‘pedestrian detection system’ is a trick bit of kit, automatically braking the car to a full ABS stop if an obstacle (human) suddenly appears in front of it.

Its standard ‘city safety system’ is similar, braking automatically at speeds of up to 30km/h to avoid low-speed collisions, or lessen the impact of higher-speed boo-boos.

A combined camera, laser and radar in the front bumper and windscreen scans ahead, and if something pops up and the driver doesn’t brake, the car will.

Using blow-up dummies and a big balloon car, we tested these devices at 20km–30km/h on the skidpan and found them unerringly effective.

At speeds faster than 30km/h though, the camera can’t look far enough ahead relative to speed, and its ability is lessened or unavailable.

With 220kW available on demand, the S60 R-Design is far from a slouch and has a spearing turn of speed, assisted by all-paw AWD grip.

Refinement: Slow-speed safety tech with radar-cruise, heads-up display, lane change warnings and a driver fatigue scale that demands you take a break if your car starts swaying a little in the lanes.

This is a veritable computer on wheels, encased in a snazzy cover.

Suspension: The suspension is calibrated for luxury, but while soft and lacking some dynamic edge, it’s no barge. It also handles the tech-heavy Volvo’s 1880kg pork pretty well.

Braking: The S60 R-Design’s brakes are extremely effective, with an aggressive ABS calibration particularly when the Pedestrian Detection/City Safety is activated.



ANCAP rating: 5 star

Safety features: Front, side and curtain airbags, front load limiter/pretensioner seatbelts, rear pretensioner seatbelts, driver alert control (DAC) to wake up fatigued steerers; blind spot information system (BLIS), whiplash protection system (WHIPS), a roll-over protection system (ROPS), and of course ABS, EBD, and DTSC stability control.



Warranty: Three year warranty with roadside assist

Service costs: Service intervals are set for every 15,000km/12 months. Service costs are not provided by Volvo Australia. Before purchase, check with your Volvo dealer.



Volkswagen Passat V6 4Motion ($64,990): A good match for the Volvo in price and power (220kW/350Nm), and quality is top-notch, but its design is more homogenised than the distinctly different Volvo. ?(see Passat reviews)

Subaru Liberty 3.6i AWD ($51,990): The 191kW/350Nm boxer engine, as with the A4, has a lighter load to push, and the Premium model packs in good value for the price. (see Liberty reviews)

AUDI A4 3.2 quattro ($91,000): The A4 all-paw only develops 195kW and 330Nm, but weighs 200kg less so feels just as powerful. But there’s a powerful value persuasion in the Volvo’s favour. (see A4 reviews)

Note: all prices are Manufacturer’s List Price and do not include dealer delivery or on-road costs.



The S60 R-Design’s torquey turbo-six packs 224kW and 440Nm put through a six-speed adaptive auto and all-four wheels.

Although leaning to comfort over sporting edge, it is a little more stirring for the soul than Volvo’s still somewhat-dowdy image suggests.

The combination of turbo punch with all of the S60 R-Design’s safety systems, plus a sharp if polarising design, and you have one cool "Bloody Volvo".

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