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What's Hot
High-end build quality in a sub-$50k midsizer.
What's Not
The T4 engine is a thirsty one.
X-Factor
Killer styling, with lines Alfa Romeo would be proud of.
Tony O'Kane | Nov, 18 2011 | 3 Comments

2012 VOLVO S60 T4 REVIEW

Vehicle Style: Luxury midsize sedan
Price: $48,990 (plus on-road costs)

Fuel Economy (claimed): 7.4 l/100km
Fuel Economy (tested): 9.1 l/100km

 

OVERVIEW

The arrival of the T4 variant takes the Volvo S60’s entry price below the $50k barrier, making the S60 the only European luxury mid-sizer to dip under that mark.

Powered by a 1.6 litre turbocharged GTDi petrol engine (essentially the same Ecoboost engine used by the Ford Focus), the S60 T4 promises greater fuel efficiency, however we found it to be a lot thirstier than anticipated.

But that's not the end of the story; like all in the new Volvo range, the T4 is seductively styled, has real on-road finesse, and is beautifully built.

 

INTERIOR

Quality: Being the base-level model has no negative impact on the S60 T4’s cabin. Soft, finely-grained dashboard plastics are complemented by glossy wood veneers and silver trim.

Volvo’s signature floating centre stack - a masterpiece in modern automotive interior design - is the centrepiece of a premium classy interior.

Comfort: The tilting and telescoping steering column has an extremely wide range of adjustment, and getting settled at the wheel is no challenge.

The driver’s seat is power adjustable, and both leather-trimmed front seats are supportive and comfortable. The back seat offers decent legroom and enough width for three smaller-sized adults. Face-level air vents on each B-pillar provide welcome relief in hot weather.

Equipment: Standard features on the T4 include dual-zone climate control, cruise control, a powered driver’s seat, an auto-dimming rear view mirror, rear parking sensors, rain-sensing wipers and 17-inch alloy wheels.

The optional Teknik package ($5000) adds a powered driver’s seat, sat-nav, extra exterior chrome trim, active cornering headlamps and a blind sport monitoring system.

There’s a brace of other optional extras, including front and rear heated seats, a reverse parking camera, active cruise control and 18-inch alloy wheels. You pay dearly for such options though.

Storage: The S60 can fit up to 380 litres in its boot, with the 60/40 split rear seatbacks folding down to free up more cargo room.

A retractable cargo barrier helps keep smaller items in place when the boot is mostly empty.

It’s not a terribly big boot for a car of this size, mind you, and there’s no additional storage beneath the boot floor - only an air pump and can of goo in lieu of an actual spare tyre.

 

ON THE ROAD

Driveability: With 132kW and 240Nm, the turbocharged and direct-injected 1.6 litre GDTi engine has the right numbers, but it doesn’t translate to particularly stellar on-road performance.

Don’t get us wrong, it’s an impressive motor considering its size and it’s not exactly slow. But it’s overtasked when asked to haul the S60’s 1.5-tonne frame around town and fuel economy suffers as a result.

We only managed an average of 9.1 l/100km, despite doing mostly highway cruising. That’s well off the claimed combined cycle figure of 7.4 l/100km .

The T4’s twin-clutch six-speed Powershift transmission (borrowed from Ford) also judders a little rather than slur its way through the gears, particularly while the engine is still cold.

Kickdown performance is swift, but it needs to be: at the slightest whiff of an incline the T4 needs to drop back a ratio or two to keep its engine on the boil.

Refinement: The cabin is quite well-Isolated and Volvo’s legendary build quality means that there are no wayward rattles.

The drivetrain, as mentioned, could do with some fine-tuning; engine also is noisy at idle, with an almost diesel-like rattle. While little noise penetrates the cabin, it is surprising to hear such sounds from a small-capacity turbo-four.

Suspension: It’s firm, but the trade-off is excellent handling and grip. The ride smooths out a lot at highway speeds, and the S60 T4 is pretty capable when flung at a winding road.

There’s not much in the way of steering feedback, but the wheel is light and very responsive.

Braking: The T4’s all-disc hardware provides reassuring stopping power, but the pedal could use some firming up.

 

SAFETY

ANCAP rating: 5-Star

Safety features: The S60 T4 gets front, front side and curtain airbags, along with three-point seatbelts, ABS, EBD, brake assist, traction control, stability control and Volvo’s 'City Safety' anti-collision system as standard.

The optional Teknik package adds a blind spot monitoring system.

 

WARRANTY AND SERVICING

Warranty: 3 years/unlimited kilometres

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.

 

HOW IT COMPARES | VALUE FOR MONEY:

BMW 320i automatic ($56,100) - BMW’s 3 Series is getting on in years and an all-new replacement is just around the corner. With less cabin space, less power and less torque than the S60, the Volvo is better value. (see 3 Series reviews)

Mercedes-Benz C 200 CGI ($58,900): An update brought in earlier this year has kept Benz’s C-Class fresh and its turbocharged 1.8 litre engine almost equals the T4’s 1.6 for output.

However with a pricetag that’s just under $10k higher, the Mercedes is significantly more expensive than the S60 T4, while build quality is no better than the Volvo. (see C-Class reviews)

Audi A4 TDIe ($52,200) - The entry-level A4 is a diesel, manual-only offering that comes closest to the S60 T4’s price, but can’t match it for equipment or output.

Then again, it does have four rings on its bonnet, which matters to some. (Click here for Audi A4 reviews)

 

TMR VERDICT | OVERALL

We question the wisdom of putting a smaller 1.6 litre turbocharged engine in the S60 T4; we could not replicate the claimed fuel consumption figures.

While it works well enough and the S60 T4 is no slouch, the small engine has to work pretty hard keeping things on the boil.

If Volvo can work out the snatchiness in the twin-clutch driveline, things would be improved somewhat. Our view is that the larger 2.0 litre turbo engine used by the T5 variant is a better partner for the S60, and it only costs three grand more.

But, that comment aside, the S60 T4 is a really stylish and well-built car; if you’re shopping under $50k, have a look.

 
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