PRO’s: Fantastic engine and transmission, great handling and performance manners.
CON’s: Bland-ish styling, confusing electronics interface, small back seat.
FINAL THOUGHT: A nice European sports sedan for those looking for an alternative to rivals from BMW and Audi.
It’s been awhile since I’ve been behind the wheel of a Volvo. So long in fact that I can’t remember when my last experience was with the brand. Looking upon this as a good thing though I dumped any preconceived notions at the door and went in with a clean slate. This is a 2013 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design with all-wheel drive. As optioned it costs $48,195.00, comes with a turbocharged inline-6 and was one of the biggest surprises I’ve experienced in quite some time from a performance standpoint.
From the outside looking in the T6 R is nothing groundbreaking. The body is nicely styled with soft lines and while it does have some sporty characteristics like dual exhaust, a rear spoiler and lower diffuser, aggression is not one of the S60’s strong points. Now granted, Volvo did try to jazz it up by coating it in what they call “Rebel Blue” paint, and that does help, but at days end I still wish it had more of a visceral presence.
Look past the initial blandness though and you’ll notice there is much more to this car than meets the eye. For instance the S60 T6 R boasts some pretty outstanding features. Things like active adjusting headlights, all-wheel drive, dynamic stability control, advanced corner traction control with torque vectoring, and a smooth-as-butter turbocharged inline-6 engine.
With that being said, all this technology and gadgetry is actually very tough to find once you climb into the S60’s cabin. The interior of the S60 was definitely put together by a great designer, however I’m just not sure they actually knew anything about automotive design. The center stack for instance combines a telephone like key pad with your audio and climate controls and while looking good, it’s one of the least intuitive units I’ve experienced.
Time and time again I found myself taking my eyes off the road while trying to figure out how to change the radio station and climate control. Yes, everything is there and yes, all functions work well, but having to set everything BEFORE I drive is very annoying.
Audio, climate and navigation controls should be laid out plain as day and be easy to use, not hidden behind a keypad where everything takes 3-steps to accomplish. Another issue I had was the gauge cluster. I understand taking a minimalist approach, but this was somewhat ridiculous. This is supposedly a performance sedan, which means that performance based information should be available to me within eyesight. On the dash was simply a speedometer, tachometer and fuel gauge. All well and good, but where the hell was my temperature gauge for both water and oil, or how about a battery or boost gauge. I get the whole “minimalist approach”, but performance guys want information, not something that looks as though it should be in the MOMA. Trust me on this, performance oriented buyers want to see this stuff.
From a comfort standpoint the S60 T6 R does not disappoint. The R-design heated and sculpted leather seats offer good bolstering and comfort, however rear seat room will be a bit on the cramped side for anyone over 5’10”.
The tilt/telescoping steering wheel also has a great feel to it and provides good adjustment that allows the driver to find a comfortable position regardless of their size. Pop the trunk and you’ll be greeted with 12.0 cubic feet of cargo space. Drop the rear seats and that expands significantly.
Okay, onto driving impressions and if there is one place where this car shines, this is it. Under the hood sits an extremely smooth running turbocharged inline-6 that makes 325 hp and 354 lb.ft. of torque.
Jump on the go-pedal from a dead stop and the Volvo’s all-wheel drive systems helps you shoot to 60 mph in just a hair over 5-seconds and run the quarter in around 13.6. Quick numbers for any car, but so much sweeter when they come from a car as unassuming as the S60.
Ride quality in the S60 T6 R is sport sedan firm with confidence inspiring handling manners that feel right up there with it’s rivals from BMW and Audi. The steering with its adjustable settings can be tailored to the drivers liking and is nicely weighted offering good feedback and control. From 40-80 mph the Volvo is a blast to drive.
Boost comes in very low and never drops off throughout the entire rev range making back road runs and passing people a blast. All the get-out-of-jail-free electronics also do a great job of masking the S60’s chubb-chubb weight of 3,877 lbs.
From a mileage perspective the S60 T6 R with its 6-speed automatic is simply average with posted ratings of 18 city / 25 hwy, or about the same as a Mustang GT. Not terrible mind you, but in this day of high-efficiency turbos, I was honestly expecting more.
The 2013 Volvo S60 T6 R is a good car, it really is. It’s got the right amount power and performance, decent interior room and all the amenities you could possibly ask for in a car that costs under 50K. I just wish it’s interior was better suited to those who truly love performance driving.