Driven: Volvo’s spec-torqular 306hp/400Nm S60 T6

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volvo_s60_001You know the headline already but we’ll repeat it anyway for good measure. With EEV incentives in place, the locally-assembled Volvo S60 T6 is now an incredible RM42,000 cheaper at RM238,888 OTR without insurance. In other words, an Axia Advance worth of difference.

Volvo. The very mention of the name brings to mind your grandfather, maybe even your old man. A significant percentage of Gen Y have stories of how they used to be driven around in one and in some of these, the son picks up the mantle of the father and carries on steadfastly down the Path of the Ironmark. 

Then the Germans came along and seduced these boys and girls with their luxury and performance credentials and Volvo was relegated to being pictures on the side table and trips down memory lane. What if, however, we were to tell you that this one has 306 eager ponies and a scarcely believable 400Nm of torque, all from a 2.0-litre twin-charged four cylinder? Now that I have your attention, lets go for a mthrfknspin.

volvo_s60_020Typical Volvo somberness on the inside, as expected. Everything is either grey or black and that waterfall centre console, once proof that Volvo could actually be whimsically creative is no longer the claim to fame of years past. It is, however, still unique and decently functional to boot thanks to the storage space behind it. 

If you really need some colour in your life, switch up the theme of the instrument panel display. We kept it on performance because as is well known in petrolhead circles, any sort of red in the interior, no matter where, improves your driving and adds 5hp. 

The steering wheel and gear knob are satisfyingly meaty, the latter a rare conventional linear joy in this day and age when premium European cars are sporting increasingly creative methods of moving through PRNDL. I like to say this as prindle. Push to the left for Sport mode and to go through the eight gears of the Aisin-sourced ‘box yourself.

An alternative to this is to reach behind the wheel to grab at a pair of the most beautiful paddle shifters you’re ever likely to find at this price point, glossy to the eye with the +/- actually cut through. 

volvo_s60_008Back to the 306hp/400Nm, the former available in full at 5,700rpm and the latter between 2,100rpm and 4,800rpm. The meaty torque comes in very early, then. 

Surprising is the only word that comes to mind; bury the throttle and the S60 will rocket forward and hit the century from a standing start within a scant 5.9 seconds and on to a top speed of 230km/h. At low revs, this is accompanied by a mild but addictive supercharger whine – the cherry on top of the straight line performance cake.

Again and again and again you will step on it and sport the silliest grin wherever there is space to do so, and the Volvo will deliver on at least eighty percent of your daily itchy-right-foot needs. On the optional 18-inch wheels shod in Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubbers, grip is decent and you don’t give up too much in the way of low-speed comfort. 

volvo_s60_011Something has to give of course when you have so much twist coming down through the front wheels, and it isn’t just understeer. Keep your foot well away from the accelerator through a bend and the communication through the wheel in terms of weight and feedback is decent, tap the pedal even lightly however and the line goes dead. Torque steer compensation is the issue here, but erring on the side of safety to cater to the modal driving abilities of its customers is exactly the Volvo way to do things so our protests are minimal.

Comparisons are important. A figure in isolation tells nothing without context, so how do we describe what a performance bargain this S60 T6 is? We use all new metric, unique to MFW, called RM/Nm. Yes that’s right, Ringgit per Newton meter of torque. The S60 achieves 597RM/Nm to the BMW 330i’s 851RM/Nm and the Mercedes-Benz C 300’s 832RM/Nm. We’re keeping it strictly petrol for fairness of course, because if we didn’t the 330e would just about edge the S60 at 592RM/Nm and the all-new C 350 e would smash all and sundry with 498RM/Nm. Essentially, this is your executive petrol performance bargain of 2016 bar none.

Oh and since this is a downsized, force-inducted mill you will no doubt expect efficiency to go with the blistering pull. Despite my pinning the throttle to the floor repeatedly over the course of the test weekend, the final average figure was a respectable 9.5L/100km.

volvo_s60_014Make no mistake then: this car will send a tingle down to your Swedish meatballs in a way that no Volvo sedan in recent memory has been able to do. Its not just the banging straight line performance — at any point in the rev range — but the fact that its such a sleeper, every single other car you blast past, from a Wajalution to a 3-Series will have a driver behind the wheel with their jaw in between their feet wondering, “How is that Uncle’s car so fast?”

What’s happening over at Gothenburg is a growing herd of Swedish sleepers in the stable. Discounting the blinding, but attractive, Rebel Blue of Polestar Volvos which can be identified from miles away, these conventional combustion T6s are unexpectedly quick and they don’t look it one bit. Which is fantastic. The options on our test car give the game away though, albeit subtly: a mild diffuser, bootlid spoiler and the aforementioned set of two-tone 18-inch rims. 

volvo_s60_017volvo_s60_018You know I’ve enjoyed a test car when it upsets me to return the keys, and that’s exactly what happened here. I have never had so much fun in a Volvo before, and neither has my grandmother who spent decades before I was born in a variety of a Volvos owned by my grandfather, the 124, the 144, the 240, etc. In my closing sentence about this surprisingly capable car I will leave you with her exact words when I went full throttle for what must have been the hundredth time that weekend: Dei, really good la!

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