2011 Volvo S60 | first drive

Posted on Nov 18, 2010 by


The S60 is 's best looking car to date, we reckon

What? The UAE launch of the S60, the latest version of Volvo’s mid-size executive sedan.

Where? A handful of laps around the Dubai Autodrome circuit in the 2.0T and a passenger lap in the T6, as well as a demonstration of the car’s safety technology.

Any good? On the face of it yes, it seems very impressive. The S60 is certainly a sharp-looking and well-made machine and despite not being designed for the track at all, performed well when pushed.

The S60 aims to continue Volvo's move away from the boxy image that plagued it years ago


The latest model S60 is the second generation of the car, which was first introduced way back in 2000. It’s well overdue then, but can it continue the task set of the first S60 – to rid Volvo of the boxy, boring image that it had during the 80s and 90s?

First shown off at the 2010 Geneva Motor Show, the S60 strives to be more dynamic, both in its design and its driving experience. As well as the standard Comfort chassis, a Dynamic chassis model is available to sharpen up the S60s responses.

It’s also crammed with technology, including Pedestrian Detection, a feature that uses a front mounted camera to detect if a pedestrian steps in front of the car when it’s in motion and brakes automatically if the driver fails to respond to the subsequent alarm. Included as standard is City Safety, which brakes automatically to avoid rear end shunts in traffic.

The interior is simplistic but stylish and feels really well made

That’s not to say that Volvo has abandoned its reputation as a carmaker with a knack for comfort and safety. The S60 seats five with more legroom than the previous model, and plenty of luxury features are available.

Safety wise, as well as the above features Volvo has fitted Advanced Stability Control to models equipped with the dynamic chassis option. Available features also include Driver Alert Control, which warns drivers if they’re in danger of falling asleep at the wheel, and Blind Spot Information System, which uses wing mirror-mounted lights to alert drivers to vehicles hidden in the car’s blind spots.

First impressions

Read through Volvo’s press literature and the word ‘dynamic’ comes up a lot, so it’s fitting that the car looks really good. It’s still recognisable as coming from the Swedish brand, but the cars we saw at the launch, with their silver body kits and bumper mounted air vents, succeed in making the S60 look sporty without being overtly aggressive – it’s still a Volvo, after all.

Comfortable seats and room for five

The interior is really nice, penned with understated style and simplicity, premium materials and fine build quality. It’s also very comfortable, with a great seating position and a decent amount of room in the back. We particularly like the ‘floating’ centre console, which has storage space behind it.

The seats are comfortable and supportive and adjust nice and low for taller drivers – not always the case in modern cars, we’ve found of late.

We’ll give you more info when we have the car for longer, but judging by our short look around the car before we drove it, Volvo has done a fine job of creating an interior you would want to spend time in.

The S60's driving experience would seem to match its looks

On the move

Our excursion onto the track in the 2.0T model of the S60 was brief, but it gave us enough of an introduction to note that it’s surprisingly nimble. Despite the body kit, it’s not a sports car and no one apart from journalist will actually take an S60 to a track, but for a big, soft sedan it drives well.

Push too hard and the front  wheels will complain as the weight makes itself known, but keep with its limits and it’ll change direction quickly and the engine is strong and smooth.

After our drive we were given a passenger ride in the more powerful T6 AWD, which puts power to all four wheels from a six-cylinder, 3.0-litre turbocharged engine with 300bhp. It felt impressively quick and gripped well around the corner even without the sports suspension.


Our time with the S60 was far too short to give a definitive appraisal of it, but we were impressed by the taster session. The S60 seems to strike a great balance between dynamism, excitement, comfort and understated class, and we’re really looking forward to trying it out for longer.

2011 2.0T

Engine: Turbocharged two-litre, four-cylinder
Max power (bhp/rpm): 200/6,000
Max torque (Nm/rpm): 320/1,740-4,020
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Driven wheels: Front wheel drive
Weight: 1,570kg
Price (AED): 119,900

3 Responses to 2011 Volvo S60 | first drive

  1. Ragadzar Reply

    January 15, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    i like it , I agree with Ronman, it looks nic in dark colours

  2. lucy Reply

    November 27, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Seriously waiting for the 2.0 to test drive; have already driven the T6 and it was the best out of all cars driven (on this hunt for a new car) BUT the gas mileage is an issue (16mpg in city). Also seriously waiting for a comparison review between the two. However have to commend Volvo for still let us use “Regular Gas” even with a 6.

  3. Ronman Reply

    November 25, 2010 at 6:59 pm

    in T6 form it’s seriously quick, and the handling is way above what you need to have fun on the road. although it tends to under-steer a bit, the Volvo DSTC does a good job in bringing back in line without abruptly cutting on the fuel feed like other ESPs do, so it’s geared for potential fun. however its design only looks great in some dark colors…I think  in others it’s a bit awkward

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