Tested: 2020 Volvo S60 T8-E AWD R-Design
The Road Beat Archive, December 12, 2019
2020 Volvo S60 T8-E AWD R-Design. The name's a mouthful, but it's a super performance video game.
Words and pictures by Larry Weitzman
There is no question Volvo is on a roll, which is fitting since the name Volvo in Latin means “I roll.” The first Volvos to arrive in the U.S. over 50 years ago looked like my father’s 1947 Chrysler Windsor and didn’t perform much better. But they earned a reputation of being bullet proof.
But Volvos got better looking over time with the 144 bodies really arriving with the Volvo 850. In 2003 Volvo brought the great looking XC90 designed by Doug Frasher and Volvo has never looked back. Frasher went on to design many other superb Volvo designs.
Which brings us to the new S60, another gorgeous Volvo. Volvo was once regarded as the safest vehicles, now they can add beautiful as all their current models, the S90, V90 are now at the epitome of design. The new S60 has perfect proportions, superb lines and enough muscle in its curves to get third looks from individuals who rarely look at cars. It is that striking. And while Volvo retains a somewhat boxy look, its co-efficient of drag is a remarkably low 0.27.
S60 is a small mid-size with a length of 187 inches on a huge 113-inch wheelbase. Volvo’s width of 73 inches means you are not imagining its broad athletic shoulders. It stands a svelte 56 inches. It’s a perfect size.
Powering up the S60 is a plug-in hybrid power train with most of the oomph coming from the 2.0L mechanically supercharged and turbo supercharged inline, DOHC, 16 valve directed injected four banger. It produces 313 hp at 6,000 rpm along with 295 pounds of twist at about 2,200 rpm with an electric kicker of 87 hp and another 177 pounds of twist added to its already plentiful 295 pounds bringing the total twist to 472-foot pounds along with the combined 400 hp. That is some serious moxie.
It drives all four wheels via an 8-speed automatic torque converter cog swapper and it drives them hard with full-tilt boogie run of 0-60 mph arriving in a scant 4.48 seconds. That’s world class stuff. Remember other Volvos roll pretty good, too with a recent S90 from 2017 running the benchmark in 5.84 seconds without the electric kicker.
Passing performance is also rocket-like with 50-70 mph runs taking 2.16 and 2.97 seconds on a level highway and up a 6-7 percent grade respectively. This S60 is a world class performer. Throttle response is very strong because of the mechanical supercharger and electric motor with its instant torque.
As a plug-in hybrid, you would expect good fuel economy. EPA rates the S60 T8 at 69 MPGe (as a pure EV) and 30 mpg combined when running as a hybrid. The electricity comes from an 11.6 kWh L-I battery so the available energy for pure electric is limited to about 10 kWh which limits EV range to about 30 miles. On a cost per mile basis that equates using PGE electric rates to about 10 cents a mile which is about the cost if running on the hybrid system as the S60 returned 34.5 mpg at a constant 70 mph in a two-way run. Overall the Volvo averaged 24 mpg in rural hilly driving. Many conventional vehicles get better fuel economy, but not ones that can run from 0-60 mph in under five seconds. Volvo gave this hybrid a big for a hybrid gas tank at 15.9 gallons.
Now here is where you get the video game, in the drive. Volvo suspension is state of the art with plenty of electronic interventions, either in braking on its own, traction and stability control. Steering while reasonably quick (3 turns lock to lock) is numb and on center feel is also a bit numb to the point its like driving a video game. But handling prowess is powerful. Meaty 235/40 series Pirelli P Zero rubber on great looking 19-inch alloys provide prodigious grip with most of the feedback coming from the Pirellis. Turning circle is a tight 37 feet.
Those same Pirellis provide a quiet, smooth ride and with the engine spinning just 1,900 rpm at 70 mph it is deafening. That suspension above also smooths out most bumps with aplomb.
Safety was and still is a Volvo forte. Every imaginable electronic intervention known to humans is all there except for one important feature, auto dimming high beams. It does have AFS which means that the headlights follow the steering. LED “Thor’s Hammer” front headlights are terrific on low beam and good on high beam. Many times, high beams didn’t add much as the lows were so comprehensive in their coverage.
Inside is typical quality Volvo interior with some of the best leathers in motordom. Seats are sublime. I once wrote that many drivers may use Volvo front chairs as office chairs. Instrumentation while done of a tft screen, does provide a tach when in Sport driving mode. The trip computer is somewhat difficult to use. The trunk is large as the battery is located in the center line of the vehicle.
Volvo uses a center large 12-inch touch screen for climate, radio and even the owner’s manual. There was no published owner’s manual in the glove box. After a little time, the system becomes reasonably easy to use and for most computer wizards it will be a snap.
Pricing for this super sedan (at least performance wise) starts at $55,400 plus $995 for the train and truck from its Ridgeville, South Carolina assembly plant. Add-ons drove the total price to $61,890 with the big addition being the Bowers and Wilkins sound system at $3,200. I would take a pass on that one. The bottom line is that for well under $60 large you could be driving a super sedan that can double as a video game. Duty calls.
Engine: 2.0L DOHC, 16 valve, turbo and supercharged and direct injected inline four 313 hp @ 6,000 rpm and 295 lb.-ft of torque @ 2,200 rpm
11.6 kWh Lithium-ion battery
87 hp electric motor with 177 pounds of torque
Eight speed torque converter automatic
Transverse mounted front engine/all-wheel drive
Wheelbase 113.1 inches
Length 187.4 inches
Width 72.8 inches
Height 56.3 inches
Ground clearance 5.6 inches
Track (f/r) 63.0/63.0 inches
Fuel capacity 15.9 gallons
Steering lock to lock 3.0 turns
Weight 3,690-4,400 pounds
Turning circle 37.0 feet
Co-efficient of drag 0.27
0-60 mph 4.48 seconds
50-70 mph 2.16 seconds
50-70 mph (up a 6-7 percent grade) 2.97 seconds
Fuel economy EPA rated 69 MPGe, 30 mpg combined. Expect 24 mpg in rural country driving and 34 mpg on the highway at legal speeds