Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E – Hidden talent

For the longest time, Volvo has been branded as one of the world’s safest makes. To the older generations, it is known for its sturdiness and built quality, and in the most befitting one-word description we could think of – solid.

You’d expect continuous refinement for cars of such calibre – after all, Mercedes-Benz did a complete makeover of its branding and styling going forward, BMW introduced the legendary laser headlamps, and Audi being one of the pioneers of your all-so-common daytime running lights now.

Volvo, in this aspect, didn’t lag behind. Yes, one would admit that their cars (both on the exterior and interior) look slightly dated and perhaps, more traditional, compared to the sleeker makes on the roads. But if there’s one thing we feel the Scandinavian brand should be proud of, it would and should be the technology that lies within its engines.

The next generation Volvo engines are termed the Drive-E, producing responsiveness and bringing efficient driving to the next dimension. The XC60 Drive-E we drove previously clocked an incredible 13 kilometres per litre, making it totally possible to achieve close to 1000 km on a single tank of fuel.

This time round, that same technology has been incorporated into the new Volvo S60 T5 Drive-E.

Exterior

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As we said earlier, you wouldn’t expect many changes from Volvo in the aesthetics department. The S60 T5 looks almost identical to the older S60 T4. Volvo retains its “boxy” design, but at the same time, incorporated newer hints of curves along its bonnet and front bumper.

Similar to all mid-range luxury sedans, you’d get a variety of features on the S60 T5. Bi-xenon headlamps are a standard fit to the T5 variants, adding that touch of sleekness at night, accompanied by the strip of daytime running lamps above the front air intake.

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The S60 T5 comes fitted with 17-inch rims, and we felt it didn’t effectively bring out the aggressive potential of the car. Our test car, however, came fitted with perfect 19-inch black alloys, exuding sheer aggressiveness especially on a white exterior. That, unfortunately, would set you back by slightly above the 10 grand mark.

Interior

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Stepping into the cabin of the T5, you’d realise that it’s identical to most Volvos on the roads – comparing from your entry level V40 to the flagship S80. From the signature centre control panel with the human-figure air-conditioning control to the sporty gear knob, long-time drivers of Volvo would need no orientation to this car at all.

With the V40, Volvo introduced the Adaptive Digital Display, featuring an active TFT instrument cluster, which allows you to toggle between Eco, Elegance, and Performance.

You also get to enjoy in-car Internet connection, courtesy of your own mobile data package, of course. Though we had to tap onto our own data, it was a breeze searching for information from the web, as compared to taking the risk of landing yourself demerit points for meddling with your mobile while on the roads.

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Other features you would enjoy in the T5 include paddle shifters for the sportier drivers, an Eco+ feature boosting your fuel efficiency, as well as the new Volvo Sensus Connect – supporting DVD playback functions (only at low speeds though).

And if you’re interested in more gadgets to meddle with, you could opt for additional “toys” such as the Engine Remote Start (which starts your engine to cool down the vehicle before you leave), satellite navigation, and Park Assist Pilot (basically helping you park your car).

The Drive

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With just a four-pot engine beneath the hood, it is undoubtedly surprising how versatile and powerful the S60 T5 can get. Married to a new 8-speed gearbox, the 1,969 cc turbocharged plant churns out 245 horses and 350 Nm of torque.

And while its 6-speed diesel brother (the S60 D2) pulls itself to the century mark in 12.3 seconds, the S60 T5 allows you to enjoy the same distance at about half the time, setting the mark at 6.3 seconds.

Acceleration is evident in the S60 T5, but it lacks, perhaps, the initial torque curve of the diesel plant in pulling away from the rest of the pack. Unlike other turbocharged engines, the S60 T5 doesn’t push you back into the seat while propelling you forward, but rather, exhibits a calm and slow(er) cruise to your desired speed. Yes, it’ll get you there – but perhaps in a more refined way.

While Volvo has been renowed for its safety, the Scandinavian marque has not compromised in the aspect of ride quality too. The ride in the rear seats is surprisingly comfortable, with sufficient room for 3 adults (or even one more). This stands even during instances of sheer acceleration or hard cornering.

With the new Drive-E technology which Volvo dedicated a whole new factory in manufacturing, the new S60 T5 managed to clock an impressive 11 km per litre during our weekend drive. It may not be the best in its class, but it certainly is impressive for a car this weight and powerful.

Conclusion

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After three days with this beauty, we now believed more in never judging a book by its cover. The S60 T5 is a perfect example of this – docile and very much ordinarily looking on the exterior, but capable of at least leaving a lasting impression when you check out and experience what’s under the hood.

While Volvo emphasizes much on safety, the S60 marries this with an additional focus on comfort, making it one of the ideal sedans for those looking for fuel efficiency, comfort, and hidden power.

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We like:

The hidden power beneath the hood, camouflaged with a very innocent looking sedan. Also, not forgetting the impeccable built quality living up to Volvo’s reputation.

We don’t like: 

Cabin looks a tad outdated, and perhaps the split-second responsiveness did not live up to our expectations.

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