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Car & Driver Review Volvo S60 T5


Two hundred forty-seven horses and not a shy one among them. This Volvo pours out the power. It makes the others get small in its mirrors as it rushes to 60 mph in 6.6 seconds, quickest in the group. The quarter-mile comes up in 15.1 seconds at 96 mph -- also quickest. That's 0.3 second and 3 mph quicker than the next-best Saab. Top speed, with the horses held back by the governor, is 129 mph.

These heroic numbers are the work of a high-pressure turbocharged and intercooled 2.3-liter five-cylinder engine (those seeking moderation can opt for a different turbo: a low-pressure system sans intercooler rated at 197 horsepower).

Compared with the Saab, the Volvo is less ornery in its handling. Torque steer is relatively tame, and the suspension almost never bottoms. As in the Benz, there's lots of up and down in the suspension motions, and lots of roll angle, but the S60 has more damping, which gives better control. Road adhesionis quite good, in the top half of the group at 0.81 g, but the subjective impression heads in a different direction. On a trip through the twisties, understeer dominates, accompanied by the thought that ride comfort and noise isolation -- not athletic ability -- are the S60's strong points.

The interior makes a strong statement. All eyes immediately zero in on the "space ball" shifter centered in the console, a large ball-and-socket pivot sprouting a lever, rendered in a frosty finish that looks too cold to touch without mittens. The door-latch handles are carved from the same mystery metal. Simulated walrus hide covers the dash. The large speedometer and tach dials have beveled edges in the manner of those black Porsche chronographs. And the seats have a plush surface feel that makes the S60 seem five grand more expensive than all others in the group, the result, we think, of a thin layer of cushy foam beneath the leather cover. In back, the cushion is deeply contoured and shaped superbly for two passengers, but space is no better than in the Audi/ BMW/Lexus bunch, which, by a small fraction, ranks equally at the bottom half of the group. The S60 is a powerful tourer, but never a frisky one.

Highs:Three bags full of horsepower, cushy cockpit, frosted metal sculpture on display in the interior.

Lows:Touchy brakes, edgy clutch, five-cylinder thrum when the boost comes up.

The Verdict:As sports sedans go, this is a small smile, not a big grin.
[This message has been edited by InDy (edited 12-31-2000).]
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