You can print the Volvo S60 as another gear in the deep Swedish machine. Does it call a carbon copy of the S90 with the XC60 and XC90 drives if you want, but in truth, it's much more than that. The Volvo S60 is a complete package – it's the culmination of Volvo's best items wrapped up nicely. Compared to the latest generation S60, this enhancement offers better technology, greatly improved styling, and even a performance option (not that the old S60 Polestar was not endearing or something).
Between the scenic views of the Santa Monica coast, where our drive started, and the slim lines of the S60, there was no shortage of eye candy on the screen. S60 carries the Volvo design specialty very well. It is the best use of family styling to date – more than the S90, even – and puts Sweden unequivocally in the top of its class visually.
The Polestar Engineered model is the most amazing of the gang. It strikes the styling wheel into a chopper with black trim pieces on the grill instead of chrome, trim-exclusive 20-inch wheels and fancy gold brakes. But R-Design is not far behind visually – it also loses tons of chrome instead of black accents, and rides on unique 19-inch five-spoke wheels. Both of these models have a performance on the surface.
S60 R-Design loosely carries its "sports sedan" band. There is no problem with the tight turns of Los Padres National Forest, which serendipitously glides through the corners than chopping them, but feeling more at home on the cruise ship. The new double-axle axle at the front and the integrated rear-end coupling give it a firm, yet flexible ride, and the addition of all-wheel drive ensures tension grip even when pressed aggressively.
Power from the turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder "T6" engine comes off at 2 200 RPM. All 316 horsepower and 295 pound-foot torque through a steady shifting eight-step automatic, which apparently is always in the right direction at the right time. You can play with paddle shifters, but the transfer is competent only.
Pop it into dynamic mode and the S60 stiffens. The control unit is slightly attracted to extra lift, the throttle lever is more responsive, and the gearbox changes a smithgen faster than in standard mode. Even in its most agro-setting, the S60 is still a keyring. This is where the Polestar Engineered model comes in.
Buyers in the market for an S60 with all fuses can subscribe to own S60 Polestar Engineered (all 20 of the 2019 model year Polestar Engineered cars are spoken for, though). It is the hottest S60 offered and throws most of the sedan's Swedish sensibility out of the window. It's like leaving the opera house to see a Mission: Impossible film; two entertaining cars, two very different applications.
It is the hottest S60 that is offered and throws most of the Swedish sensibility of the sedan out of the window.
The Polestar Engineered model is mechanically different with Volvo's T8 plug-in hybrid drive. This combination belts 416 hp and 494 lb-ft with torque. There is a noticeable difference in off-line speed over the R-Design model: the torque of the electric motor fires almost instantly, but the 2.0 liter engine is not far behind the output. The power is channeled through the same eight-speed gearbox found on the R-Design model, which in turn turns out to be a truly competent offer.
Although the Polestar model is stronger, it's wrong. Volvo did not give an exact weight figure, but at almost 4000 pounds it's an absolute unit. The trim-exclusive Öhlins damages do their best to tame the crank in tight corners, but it still rolls too aggressively. R-Design is definitely the more fresh of the two.
And then there are the brakes; The massive gold braking system and the regular regenerative braking system are frustrating as hell. Foot of the gas, and the regenerative brake system immediately fires, but a certain amount of extra pressure on the brake pedal and the big Brembos shifts the car to a stop – even in normal traffic situations.
There are some statements, though. The S60 Polestar Engineered can drive up to 21 kilometers of battery power alone, which is extremely satisfactory. And the transition between pure EV and gasoline-electric hybrid is seamless – often I can not tell if the engine was even. With all sporting implications, the S60 is still a very comfortable car.
The S60 cabin is a style guide in Swedish minimalism. You can find no more than 10 buttons anywhere. Almost everything is controlled through standard portrait-oriented nine-inch touchscreen, called Sensus Connect by Volvo. Some extra buttons would make S60 justice – do we really need to dig through more monitors to adjust fan speed?
The upgraded Sensus Connect is quite easy to use, and offers a host of useful features. A clean four-pane application pane helps you when you enter. All four of these tiles are configurable, by the way, with the ability to switch between navigation, phone, media and some third party apps like Spotify, Pandora, Yelp and some others. Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity are standard. Buyers in a mood for an upgraded audio experience can pay extra for either an Harmon Kardon sound system or Bowers and Wilken's order. ABBA sounds particularly good at the latter.
Do we really need to dig through more monitors to adjust fan speed?
Volvo's interior designers did an impressive job of keeping the minimalist theme consistent. The flat dash, covered in black leather and cream-colored accents, seamlessly forms into the central cluster. The only shining pieces are the air valves. Everything else is soft to touch and even the seats are amazing. That's right, the seats. They gave the perfect amount of dust and knee support to my slanted six-man frame after a couple of hours on the road, even though they were a small company for my taste.
The Volvo S60 is now safer than ever. Automatic Emergency Braking, Collision Alert and Cruise Traffic Alert with Automatic Braking is the default for the first time. Upcoming traffic warning with brake assistance is a brand new feature that applies to additional braking if it detects reverse traffic in your track (thankfully we did not need to use it). Blind spot monitoring and lane departure alert are also optional.
The gem here, however, is Pilot Assistant. Volvo's semi-autonomous driving software never failed on the highway, with radar cruise control proactively braking and adding power when needed, and lanes keep the car perfectly centered at all times. In LA's brutal stop-and-go traffic, Pilot Assist definitely defended some stress.
The S60 is the most complete Volvo product to date. It's handsome, technologically focused and runs very well – even if you ignore some of the obvious performance errors in the Polestar Engineered model. R-Design is the sweet spot, as it blends performance and comfort into a seamless package without being too over the top in its styling. It is also relatively reasonable.
At $ 41,900, the S60 R-Design command is not a huge premium over $ 35,800 base model. If you want all-wheel drive, it will set you back $ 4500 and bring the totals up to $ 46,400. Polestar Engineered is a bit different, though. You can not actually buy one of the 20 currently available, as Volvo offers it exclusively through your Care City Volvo Subscription Service at a cost of $ 1,100 per month.