Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Red Hot Volvo S60 T6

I just stepped out of a very potent Volvo sedan. Yes, you read that right. Volvo, long known as the purveyor of boxy, solid transportation--especially wagons--has gone much more performance-oriented over the last decade or so, and the S60 is the one to have.

The car came in Passion Red paint! I swam through the sea of silver Camrys and Accords on my commute and knew I had they something they couldn't even imagine. Under the tapered hood lived a turbocharged 3.0-liter six that put out an amazing 325 horsepower and 354 lb.-ft of torque. No wonder the car jumped ahead like a hungry racehorse when I touched the accelerator.

Inside, the look and feel is upscale, but cool and collected--that famous and desirable Danish modern. The matte black, padded surfaces, pressed and shaped into forms that pumped up the energy, only encouraged the feeling of speed and aggression. The silvery "hook" of trim that eventually culminates in the door handles is remarkably elaborate for a Volvo--but this isn't the same old company.

Last year, I spent time with this car's ancestor. a beautiful 1966 red Volvo 122S appropriately named Old Red. That car was dated-looking in its time but was a beautiful rendition of the solid, sturdy, reliable Volvo of yore--before the era of the box. What a treat driving it was. But motoring about in this new car was actually exciting.

Despite the power, fuel economy is rated at 18 City, 26 Highway (average 21). I got 18.6 mpg--not much above the City rating, despite driving mostly on the highway. Still--a lot for a vigorous car.

My car came to $46,875 with numerous options, but S60s start at $32,175, including shipping.

With new Chinese ownership, it looks OK for Volvo in the short term. There is a lot of upheaval in the car business now, and Volvo's Swedish competitor--Saab--has now gone bankrupt. Watch for updates and drive safely. (Hey, wasn't Volvo all about safety too? They pioneered the seatbelt, for example.)

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