- Tech & Gadgets
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Published 05 May 2011 05:01, Updated 23 November 2011 11:39
Not so long ago, parents used to say that to keep your kids alive on the roads you gave them a Volvo, not for the safety features but because they would rather catch a bus than be seen driving it.
Volvos were the dull, reinforced water tanks your grandparents and soccer mums drove.
But getting into the new S60 T6 is like finding out your grandmother has a new Mötley Crüe tattoo and is playing lead guitar in a rock and roll band.
She’s still nagging you about wearing your seatbelt and about getting too close to the car in front but she’s also laying down some wicked riffs.
And who knew she could look so hot.
The S60 is advertised as “one very naughty Volvo” and, damn it, it is.
In fact, “volvo” is the Latin word for “to roll”. Maybe the company motto should now be silicis quod volvo – rock and roll.
The S60 T6 AWD has a 3 litre in-line six cylinder turbo-charged petrol engine mounted horizontally across the engine bay, not vertically as you would expect.
It puts out a very respectable 224kW of power with 440Nm of torque and gets from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds.
With the all-wheel drive and a stiffer suspension than the previous S60, the car has a much sportier ride and feel. It really sticks around corners and with the torque coming in at 2100rpm and stretching to 4200rpm, it accelerates like it is afraid of the past.
To get this kind of performance and sophistication from something German – BMW 335i, Mercedes-Benz C class – be prepared to fork out a heap more cash.
And it has a mouthful of acronyms to help you stave off early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.
There’s ABS with RAB, HBA and EBD, EBA, EBL, DSTC, ASC, IC, IDIS, CTC, ROPS and SIPS with WHIPS (ouch).
I could untangle that alphabetical spaghetti for you but you’d nod off before I finished.
So just accept that all these things, in true Scandinavian style, are built into the car to keep you alive.
Perhaps you could use them to keep the kids occupied on a long trip somewhere: “OK, who can guess what DSTC means – and keep it clean or you’ll walk home.”
Which brings me to all those safety features. The most intriguing of which is the crash avoidance system coupled with the new pedestrian detection system.
These are further developments of Volvo’s city safety system that began with the XC60 in 2009 and use a laser behind the rear-view mirror to detect objects up to six metres in front of the vehicle.
The car calculates the braking force necessary to avoid a collision and if it detects the driver isn’t going to react in time, it slaps on the anchors itself.
The S60 warns you before all this happens with a heads-up row of red lights that flash on the windscreen and a startlingly sharp buzzer.
If you miss all that you’re either dead or delirious.
The same system applies to the pedestrian detection system, which also uses a camera mounted next to the laser to determine the type of object that’s approaching.
All this protection happens at speeds under 35km/h.
Still, if you start to rely on the car to stop you hitting pedestrians and stationary objects, pull over, get out and start walking – you’re a danger to everyone on the road.
I love the handling of the S60. In corners, the traction control brakes the inner driven wheel while extra power is fed to the outer driven wheel, which means you can take corners far more sharply and with an amazing sense of control.
Volvo claims that the top speed is 250km/h and that it gets 10.2l/100km. It sucks up a bit more juice than that in sport mode, which I just loved because the steering is sharper and it gets a whole lot quicker instantly.
Overall, the new Chinese owner, Zheijang Geely Holding Group, should be happy with this Volvo and at a base price of $64,950, it’s cheaper than its Japanese and European competitors.
But Volvo has skimped in one area – it has a can of goo instead of a spare tyre.
Even so, I have feelings for this granny. Is that wrong?