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04 July 2011

Changing the Game | 2011 Volvo S60 2.0L Turbo

Words by Ferman Lao | Photos by Christopher Kho
Volvo has always been known for producing some of the world's safest cars. However, they've also been perceived by the general public as somewhat boring. That's why in recent years, the Scandinavian automaker has been trying to break free from the social stigma through its latest breed of vanguard Volvos. The road to revolution began in 2002 with the introduction of the chic XC90, which was followed suit by the hot hatch C30 in 2007. Then late last year, Volvo finally unleashed their fiercest four-door yet - the S60 - breaking the brand out of its stale stereotype. 
Breaking the Ice
For the past few months, the Volvo S60 T6 has been getting all the attention - specifically, all of its 300 horsepower 3.0L in-line six turbo and all-wheel-drive. But what people don't know is that Volvo is actually offering two other flavors of the S60: a 1.6 liter four-cylinder turbo and, the one we have right now, a sassy 2.0 liter four-cylinder turbo that makes 200 horses and 300 Nm of torque; both of which make do with front wheel drive.
Our test unit came in a handsome brilliant red, shod with 225/50 tires on 17 inch alloy wheels, which looked pretty good on the S60. Up front, it's still unmistakably a Volvo with the trademark “Mars insignia” on the grill - accented by auxiliary lights before it’s ensconced by the bi-Xenon HID projector lamps. The S60's silhouette comes across like a sports coupe rather than the sedan that it really is. This character was asserted even further by matching the front valance to the rear diffuser that adorns the swooping rear end. 
Luxurious and safe however, a Volvo always will be. Supple leather shrouds every essential contact surface, while the switch gear's tactile feel is reassuringly sturdy, emphasizing the cabin's build quality. Practically every sensation imparted by the S60's interior is one of comfort and leisure, so much so that passengers may actually no longer want to disembark once they’ve stepped in. 
A True Driver's Car
Apart from the benefits of having power-adjustable front seats, the driver's three-position memory feature is a world of convenience in case you have to share the S60 with someone. All the knobs and buttons are intuitively at hand. Even the multi-information display menu and vehicle settings are easy to navigate through. These include driver aid options such as City Safety. During the test drive, I personally experienced how smart this system really is. I came upon the tail end of a traffic jam, and as I eased off the throttle and started to apply the brakes, the system activated on its own and safely slowed the car down, leaving a sufficient gap to the car in front. It was a moment of epiphany of sorts for me, as I realized that the City Safety system was smart enough not to be so intrusive, but coming into play only when the right conditions is detected by the vehicle's myriad of sensors. 
The view through the windscreen is at par with most vehicles with no obvious blind spots. Shifting is seamlessly smooth, mostly evident when you put the hammer down through all six gears and blast past slower-moving traffic. Drive in that manner too often and the on-board fuel economy meter pegs consumption at about 6 km/L. But a more appropriate approach will get a significantly better fuel economy, as much as  8 km/L when I had it - quite impressive for a vehicle that tips the scales at two tons.
When I took it up and down spiritedly along curvaceous roads to test the car's mettle, I found that the limits of the S60 are pretty high. Handling's tidy good, but gives enough feedback to get the driver involved and exhilarated when driven hard. On paper, 200 horsepower and 300 Nm of torque powering two tons doesn't sound like much to most people, but in the Volvo S60 2.0L Turbo, it's a mighty combination that begs you to go out, take a long drive, and go somewhere. Summing it all up, the S60 is no longer the “boring” Volvo stereotype; and for P2,870,000, it might just be the adventure you're looking for.