Despite having been in India for over four years, Volvo hasn’t really featured on most luxury car buyers’ shopping lists. Ironically, the company’s pursuit of high safety standards isn’t something that really registers with the Indian buyer. And brands like Audi, BMW and Mercedes offer more snob value, which Volvo just doesn’t seem to.
However, as unrelenting as the Indian buyer is, there is no denying the fact that we have a nose for value. It is with this very reason in mind that Volvo has introduced a new D3 diesel engine across its range, accompanied by a price drop. And by a drop in price we mean the ‘chucked out of an airplane without a parachute’ variety. How does an ex-showroom price of Rs 23.99 lakh for the base S60 Kinetic D3 sound? This makes the S60 the least expensive Volvo in the country and puts it right in the middle of Skoda Superb and Volkswagen Passat territory. And to think, it’s a CBU!
The fact that it’s a diesel really tilts things in its favour – diesel being the fuel of choice these days. The new 2.0-litre five-cylinder engine is quite powerful and in city driving conditions you won’t need any more power than the 163bhp it produces. The build up of torque is linear and the initial bit of turbo lag isn’t really bothersome. Get past that and you are greeted with a strong mid-range, typical of diesel engines, especially once past the 2000rpm mark. In fact the 40.7kgm of torque it makes is only 2.1kgm down on the bigger 2.4-litre D5. From here, ride the substantial wave of torque to 3500rpm, beyond which it starts to tail off. Although the engine is eager and free revving, it’s not a good idea to spin it to the upper reaches. It feels strained and gets quite vocal. So it feels best when you slot the six-speed automatic gearbox in D and just punt around town or lazily cruise the highway.
The gearbox goes about its job without being intrusive and shifts are seamless for most parts. It’s meant for relaxed driving, and if you try to pick up the pace in a hurry, it lingers for a while before kicking down. It does have a tiptronic mode but even here, it won’t hold gears at high revs for too long and will upshift as soon as it can. This laidback approach is also evident in the way the suspension behaves. At slow speeds the S60 is comfortable, the ride is pliant and minor road imperfections are dealt with ease. The overall ride though is not very settled and sharp ruts do catch the suspension out. It isn’t the most enthusiastic of handlers either. There is a fair amount of body movement in bends and it isn’t as athletically gifted as a BMW 3-series.
What Volvo has done is to not skimp on the equipment that the car comes with. The S60 comes with the City Safety automatic braking technology as standard along with an electric driver’s seat, leather upholstery, climate control, traction control and active headlamps, even in the base Kinetic variant. The interiors feature the same quality materials which, though not class- leading, aren’t bad, especially at this price. The D3 Summum trim gets an electric passenger seat, sun-roof, seven-inch screen and is priced at Rs 26.99 lakh. The S60 then, is great value for money. It also means you get the usual quality that is associated with a Volvo and, typical of a Volvo, the seats, front and rear, are extremely comfy.
It is very well loaded, relaxed and comfortable in most conditions and handsome to look at. A well rounded package and, at this price, it is surely going to attract a lot more buyers, especially those who don’t mind the lack of space at the rear. Buy it before the end of this month and you can avail the introductory prices which are Rs 70,000 lesser for the Kinetic trim and Rs 1 lakh lesser
for the Summum.