According to the 2020 edition of the World Happiness Report, Sweden ranked 7th on the list of the world’s happiest countries (India took 10th place on the list of the world’s unhappiest countries), purportedly on the back of factors like high levels of societal support, freedom to make individual life choices and the lack of corruption.
Another factor that we suspect the Happiness Report missed out on might be Swedish cars. Driving to work in something like a Volvo S60 should make one happier, right? Beautiful to look at, pleasant to drive, and with a luxurious cabin that’s designed to pamper its occupants, the S60 has the potential to moderate Monday morning blues.
So, why do we think a Volvo S60 could boost happiness levels in our lives? Well, look at it. In a country like ours, where dreary hatchbacks, awkward-looking sub-4m sedans and ungainly wannabe-SUVs have run amok, the S60 is like a moment of Zen-like calm in an ocean of chaos. The Volvo doesn’t need to shout and push for attention; it just sits there, cool and relaxed, confident in the knowledge that it will attract attention effortlessly.
With its sensuous mix of curves and creases, carefully sculpted bodywork and spot-on proportions, the S60 is undeniably handsome. The car, with its large, 18-inch alloy wheels, blacked-out B-pillars, slim LED headlamps, and compact front grille, seems to have a general sense of purpose. No frippery here, no superfluous design flourishes; the S60 is lean, taut and business-like.
Motive power for the India-spec S60 T4 (available only in ‘Inscription’ trim) comes from a turbo-petrol 2.0-litre inline-four that produces 190 horsepower and 300Nm of torque, with the power going to the front wheels via an 8-speed automatic. Floor the throttle and zero to 100kph comes up in a claimed 7.1 seconds, while top speed is electronically restricted to 180kph. The S60 feels equally responsive in slow city traffic and on open expressways, whipping along at triple-digit speeds. It’s not a boy-racer type of car, but the S60 is happy to be driven hard and fast if that’s what your thing.
The steering is adequately communicative, and the suspension (double-wishbone with coil springs at the front, integral axle with transverse composite leaf springs and stabiliser bar at the back) feels well damped and does an excellent job of filtering out the effects of broken, rippled tarmac. However, please note that the S60, with its large alloy wheels and low-profile tyres, isn’t ideal for terrible roads. Not being careful while driving over potholes and deep ruts with jagged edges could result in damaged wheels and/or tyres, so stick to smooth tarmac as much as possible.
The S60 is, of course, front-wheel-drive, and that’s quite all right. From behind the steering wheel, the vast majority of luxury car owners can’t tell whether a car is front- or rear-wheel-drive, couldn’t care less, and rightly so. The S60 isn’t about setting lap records on the Buddh International Circuit; comfortably cruising along on open expressways is its kind of thing.
The car has a 5-star safety rating from Euro NCAP. It is equipped with a full complement of multiple airbags, ISOFIX child seat mounts, and anti-lock brakes (ABS) with electronic brake-force distribution (EBD) and electronic brake assistance for maximum stopping power in an emergency. The S60 also comes with a host of advanced electronic driver assistance systems, including adaptive cruise control, reversing camera, front and rear park assist and more. Volvo cars have always been known for their high safety levels, and the S60 is no different.
The car’s cabin is where Volvo gets to show off its expertise in design, ergonomics and working with high-grade materials. The plush seats at the front and back are adequately plus-sized to be more than comfortable for even XXXL-sized car reviewers (like this author). The front seats are power-adjustable, and the rear bench is generously proportioned, with ample legroom and headroom. However, the large transmission tunnel means that squeezing in a fifth passenger can be challenging; the rear bench is ideal for two adults only.
The interior is very well appointed, with luxurious leather upholstery, leather-clad steering wheel and dashboard, high-quality wood trim and solid plastics that don’t feel cheap or flimsy. The instrumentation comprises a customisable 12.3-inch digital display (handy for navigation), and a centrally-mounted 9-inch infotainment touchscreen allows the driver to control all of the car’s features and functions.
The Harman Kardon sound system is absolutely rocking, and there are USB, Bluetooth and smartphone connectivity via Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. The infotainment system is easy to figure out, and most users should be able to get comfortable with it quickly. Yes, physical buttons for the climate control system would have been easier to use, but for carmakers, these days, touchscreens are the way forward.
All in all, the new Volvo S60 is a slick, efficient, luxury family sedan that offers a different take on the premium segment as compared to the German Big Three. It’s like meatballs and lingonberry sauce vs Bratwurst and sauerkraut. With its unique brand of Scandinavian-chic, this Swedish car is plush, comfortable and stylish. Unless we’re talking about racetrack-spec performance, it is every bit as capable and dynamically accomplished as anything else available in India in its price segment.
S60 offers more than adequate power and performance. The driving dynamics are beyond reproach. The boot has ample space for all your luggage. At an ARAI-certified 13.57kpl, even fuel economy is not bad at all.
The S60 is expected to arrive in Volvo showrooms (the company currently has around 23 sales outlets across the country) in March, with an ex-showroom price tag of Rs 45.90 lakh. For those looking for a luxury sedan that’s a bit different from the ones parked in most of your neighbours’ garages, the Volvo S60 may well be the ideal car for you.