Whether you’re a fan of the quirky aesthetics or not, the ergonomics will likely be a letdown. The bulk of the climate control, audio and navigation buttons are clustered in an unintuitive keypad layout, and it’s a driving distraction when you can’t figure out which function is where; one colleague didn’t even realize the car had a navigation system until I pointed it out. Even when you’ve discovered the nav system, its performance is subpar. A smart phone could map a better route, and the controls are needlessly fussy. Also, key features are buried — after lots of digging, I discovered that it’s possible to turn off the stability control system, or at least set it to sport mode.
Fortunately, the driving dynamics fare better. While it’s no 3-Series killer on the turns, the S60’s chassis feels composed, and the tail faithfully rotates around corners even with traction control on, thanks to the responsive AWD. When pushed, however, there’s enough body roll to discourage at-the-limit driving. But it’s not a car meant to be flogged in turns — and to be fair, most would never push a Infiniti G37 or a BMW 335i that hard, either.
Power delivery is a mixed bag. With 354 ft-lbs of torque, the 3.0-liter V-6 has enough pull to quash any notions of Volvos being stodgy; turbo lag, if any, is imperceptible, and revs climb vigorously right to redline. Spirited acceleration, however, is soured by finicky throttle mapping. Lightly press the gas and it crawls off the line like a skittish mom in a Volvo 850 wagon. Add a touch more gas it lurches forward like a teenager on a learning permit. And woe to your neck if you put it in the 6-speed Geartronic automatic’s sport mode — mini-bouts of whiplash are inevitable on tip-in.
Although it may be underwhelming to hardcore sports sedan aficionados, that’s not to say the S60 T6 R-Design is a bad car. For the most part, it’s an enjoyable cruiser, one that’s content to stay under the radar. But at this price point, it’s the little things that make the difference. And at a tested price of $46,875, there are too many foibles to make this a stand-out over the already-crowded sports luxury sedan field.
|| Luxury sports sedan
|| Five passengers
|| 3.0-liter turbo 6 cylinder
|| 325 hp
|| 354 ft-lbs
|| 18/26 city/hwy
| Base price (incl dest charges)
|| Volvo's sportiest luxury saloon yet.