2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD quick spin
Latest addition to S60 model is the sweet spot of the range
What is it?
This is the S60 Volvo should have been offering from the very start — the five-cylinder turbo engine with all-wheel drive. It's a car for anyone who feels the German establishment is a bit too ubiquitous, or prefers their compact luxury sedans with an extra helping of comfort and security.
Besides the addition of AWD to the entry-level model, there are quite a few changes to the S60 line for 2013. For starters, the T5's five-cylinder engine has been overhauled with an increased compression ratio (9.5:1, up from 9.0:1), new lower-friction engine internals, and an overboost function that allows the engine to produce 295 lb.-ft. (up from 266 lb.-ft.) of torque for 10-second stints. In the front-wheel-drive version, this motor nets marginally better fuel economy, too.
Combined with a faster-shifting version of Volvo's six-speed Geartronic automatic, which upshifts 0.2 seconds quicker in manual mode (now topped by a chintzy clear-plastic illuminated knob), it hits 100 km/h in an altogether reasonable 6.4 seconds.
Elsewhere, there's more standard equipment (e.g. Automatic wipers, automatic high-beam assistance), and a new method of organizing trim levels (T5, Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum).
What's it like to drive?
Though Volvo is proud to be using Haldex's latest-generation all-wheel drive system with torque vectoring, it's worth noting that the car's setup is heavily front-drive biased; under normal driving circumstances, only five per cent of the car's power goes to the rear wheels. On slippery surfaces, up to 50 per cent will head to the back axle, meaning you can still get a bit of front wheelspin on low-friction surfaces with an aggressive right foot. But out in the real world, the T5 AWD feels planted, secure, and fluid with a comfortable ride. The use of electromechnical power steering rather than pure electric power steering as with some of its rivals means the S60 has a fairly linear steering feel, though it errs on the side of all-round ease of use over out-and-out athleticism.
There are a couple of foibles. A transversely mounted engine and wide track mean the S60 has the turning circle of the Queen Mary II, and despite Transport Canada's estimates of a light thirst for fuel, our time with the car returned an only so-so 10.6 L/100 km. At least it uses regular, not premium as with much of its segment. The half-litre and extra cylinder the Volvo has over its rivals, combined with two fewer gears in its automatic, means it will be at a disadvantage in the fuel-economy stakes.
Should you buy one?
The latest generation S60 is Volvo's most compelling sedan in ages: it's stylish, well-made, quick, and a reasonably entertaining drive, too. But what it isn't is a steal. The reconfigured options packages mean things like a back-up camera, premium sound system, or navigation aren't available until the top-shelf model. Our mid-grade T5 AWD Premier Plus didn't have those features, yet still rang in at $47,075 — money that would otherwise buy you an A4 or a 328i with that level of equipment. That said, if you like the styling, and put a priority on comfort, security, and good looks, it's still a pretty Swede ride.
2013 Volvo S60 T5 AWD
Base price / as-tested: $41,550 / $47,075
Type of vehicle: AWD compact luxury sedan
Engine: 2.5-litre, 20-valve, DOHC I-5 turbocharged
Power/Torque: 250 hp / 266 lb.-ft. (295 lb.-ft. on overboost)
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
0-100 km/h: 6.4 seconds
Fuel Economy (city/hwy/as-tested): 9.9 / 7.0 / 10.6 L/100 km
Competition: Acura TL, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Cadillac ATS4, Infiniti G37x, Lexus IS AWD
QUICK SPIN SUMMARY
Slick styling, inside and out
Plenty of power
Comfortable ride without sacrificing dynamics
Huge turning circle
Thirstier than an equivalently equipped BMW or Audi
Pricier than an equivalently equipped BMW or Audi (!)