New Volvo S60 Preview

Volvo started their Indian operations by running their much lauded buses. They also demonstrated a lot about the safety of even buses which been basic people movers, were still ignored widely as far as safety was concerned. Volvo’s foray into the passenger car section started in India with the S80. This was an Mercedes E-class, BMW 5 series and the Audi A6’s competitor. It didn’t fare too well due to its brand image and sort of staid and all to familiar Volvo looks. Its 4.4 liter twin turbo, Yamaha derived engine was a stonker though and gives a seat of the pants feel the moment you step on the accelerator. Then came the XC90 which was once again a competitor of the aforementioned companies but only exception was that this time it competed with their SUV range. The XC90 was also largely ignored not because it wasn’t a capable machine but because it suffered the same problem of brand image. It got a second breath of life when “3 Idiots” movie featured it. Now Volvo have launched their 3 series competitor, the New Volvo S60.

Looks

The S60 moves a bit away from the Scandivian design theme and now mixes conservative and stylish looks in the same plate. The front features a prominent snout like look with about two creases on the bonnet. This merges into the small but purposeful grill and the Volvo logo proudly sits across it. The head lamps are tear drop shape and they are of the bi-xenon types. The strangest design element is that the fog lamp is placed just next to the head lamp. The head lamp washers are heated ones and sit just below the headlamps in a slot of their own.

The crease from the bonnet again extends from the grill to the lower bumper artistically. It sort of resembles the Hyundai Verna Transform in this regard, though the Verna’s nose job seems like a bad afterthought. The lower air dam is of the honey comb mesh grill type and is flanked by two smaller ones which are outlined by a strip of chrome.

The turn indicators are embedded in the head lamp cluster as well as on the outside rear view mirrors. A side skirt adorns the side profiles. The wheels are the 17 inch alloy types. The rear window has a quarter glass to it. The door handles are of the tug type. While at the door handles, it must be mentioned that in an event of a fire, they can be opened by flame resistant gloves. The roof-line slopes like that of a coupe and this merges neatly into the stubby boot. The rear looks more like the BMW 5 series GT. The tail lamps are horizontally stacked and the reversing lights are split by the boot. The bumper is covered by an aluminium skid plate and houses twin tail pipes. These are coated in chrome.

Interiors

The interiors are even more interesting than the exteriors. The floating central console looks awesome and feels a class above than the competition. The multi spoked and contoured steering wheel feels great to hold and steer. It also houses solid looking controld for the Bluetooth, audio and cruise control. The dashboard feels premium to feel and touch with all those brushed aluminium around.

The flexibility of the interiors is in the fact that for a Volvo S60, you can specify the interior trim completely according to you wish. This makes each Volvo S60 exclusive to its owner. In other words, you design the interiors and Volvo makes it for you. The seats are of high quality perforated leather. Storage spaces abound with the double glove box, map pockets and even space beneath the seats.

The rear seats are also comfortable to seat three upright because of the flat floor. The front seat head rests feature video screens. A touch screen navigation system on the dashboard completes the list of standard gizmos other than the usual knip knacks.

Handling and ride quality

The Volvo S60 is going to have the dynamic chassis as standard for the US market however for India, Volvo would be offering only comfort chassis in India with some emphasis on sportiness as an option. It can be expected that the Volvo would be a combination of the good ride quality like the Mercedes C class and the handling pleasure of the BMW 3 series. The boot space is also a huge 557 liters compounded by the fact that the loading lip is also low.

Engine,Performance and fuel efficiency

For starters, Volvo would bring in the 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol having 4 cylinders with 200 bhp and the other one would be the 3.0-litre petrol V6 producing 304 bhp. There would be diesels on offer as well. The twin turbo diesel straight six 2.4-litre giving 214 bhp and the 2.0-litre four-cylinder  turbo-diesel with 163 bhp would complete the line up. This puts it bang in the territory of the BMW engines and it would be a competition worth watching.

Power would be put via the front wheels or an optional 4 wheel drive system. The gearbox would be a standard 6 speed manual on all the variants plus a 6 speed automatic with triptronic function as an option. Both these should be super slick shifting units as experienced on the previous Volvos.

Performance for the turbo petrol would be in the league of the BMW 335i however we would reserve our comments until we get our hands on one of the cars.

Fuel efficiency would be at par with the competition if not less than them.

Braking would be handled by advanced disc brakes on all 4 wheels. It would be assisted by a 4th generation ABS as well as traction control perfected by Volvo. It would also have EBD and ESP. Safety would be of paramount importance as with all the Volvos. It features an S-class rivalling safety features at the price of a C-class. There is the second generation pedestrian detecting safety system, 3 point ELR seat belts, ample crumple zones, 8 airbags, auto brake, lane veneer alert and many more driver aids.

Without even conducting a crash safety test on this one, we can say that the occupants would come out unscathed out of this Volvo or for that matter any Volvo.

Verdict

The Volvo S60 in India is one of the most awaited cars. It has been giving a tough fight to the German trio everywhere across the world. It is a rock solid car and would even drive or brake by itself. It has also got the performance on the papers to boot for. The only thing lacking may be in the price point that Volvo intends to price it at. The estimated pricing for the base version starts at Rs.33 lakhs. This is something that seems pricier than the competition and Volvo would have to remedy it, if it wants to gain a chunk of the market share from the Indian market. It is expected to be launched in January 2011 with some famous celebrity endorsing it. We hope this works for Volvo India.

Volvo S60 Price would range from Rs.33-41 lakhs.