By Nauman Farooq
Volvo has been ahead of the curve for some time, not that many people have noticed!
The luxury auto manufacturer from Sweden had predicted the future, and started phasing out six and eight cylinder models, replacing them with clever new four-cylinder engines featuring turbochargers and superchargers, and also offering plug-in hybrids.
Now, they look set for a very electric future, but that is still a little while away. Their best solution for efficient motoring is currently offered in the form of plug in hybrids. These models, called T8, allow you to do some of your daily commute using just electricity, while a gasoline engine will take you across the country – if needed to.
So, what’s it like to live with on a daily basis? I just spent a week with a 2020 Volvo S60 T8 R-Design – here’s how it went!
Styling: First, let’s talk about looks. I think, Volvo has been on point as far as aesthetics go, for the last two decades, and their newest stuff is probably their best ever!
The S60 sedan is a very handsome vehicle. There are no controversial lines or design elements here; it is just simply an elegant looking car, one that you’ll appreciate more and more with time.
In my tester’s R-Design spec, which deletes most of the chrome for a high-gloss black trim, unique alloy wheels, and stiffer, lowered suspension gives it an added sporty stance.
I think, this new S60 T8 R-Design might just be the best looking sedan in its class.
Interior: Step inside, and you’re greeted by a very well built interior, that offers pretty much what you need – although, it is hardly the most well appointed car on the planet! What’s missing? Well, conductive charging for your phone – for a start, and there are no massaging chairs, either.
But, you do get the nicest, sculpted seats you’re likely to ever come across. You can spend an entire day in this car, and not feel fatigued – after all, this product is from a country that gave us Ikea furniture – so smart design and comfort was a given!
The interior trim for the R-Design is given a dark theme, with a charcoal headliner, plus blacked out details complimented with some silver trim – no wood inserts here.
Space in the cabin is great for those in the front seats, although legroom and headroom is a bit tight for rear-seat passengers – this car is best suited for those with a young family, not four adults to roam around in on a regular basis.
For your entertainment, you get a tablet-style infotainment screen, which has your navigation and stereo controls, plus a lot more. This screen takes a bit of getting used to, but is actually very good.
My tester even had the optional “Bowers & Wilkins” premium audio system (which would run you an extra $3,750) and it sounded excellent.
All in all, the S60 provides a great place to spend time in.
Powertrain: If you like performance, than this S60 T8 R-Design would be to your liking.
Under the hood is a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that is both turbocharged and supercharged (about 320 hp), which powers the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox. But, that’s not all, a pair of electric motors power the rear wheels (about 87 hp). However, the motors in the R-Design trim are said to be a bit more potent, so I was told by a Volvo dealer, that total power output is closer to 415 hp – rather than the 400 hp quoted on Volvo’s website. That means, this R-Design is pretty much the same as a S60 Polestar Engineered model – no wonder the sportiest mode in the R-Design was labelled “Polestar Engineered.”
Performance & Driving Dynamics: Due to the fact that this is a complex, hybrid vehicle, it is very heavy – tipping the scales at over two-tonnes. But, it surely disguises its girth very well.
Stomp on it, and it’ll complete the sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in about 5.2 seconds – that’s very impressive! In fact, the mid-range punch is even more impressive; it just picks up and goes smoothly.
It’s not only fast in a straight line; it handles really well, too. Thanks to all-wheel drive grip, and its sporty suspension set-up, the S60 T8 R-Design does the back road stuff better than most vehicles in its category. It’s light, responsive steering also helps toss this vehicle into corners, and while it bites in well, it surely would have handled a lot better if it weighed less!
Its sportier suspension also presents a down side, and that’s ride quality on less than perfect roads – it does translate every rut, crack, or bump on the road. On the highway, however, it is as smooth as glass!
Fuel Economy: In my fuel economy test (where I drive a vehicle 170 km on the highway + 130 km in the city) the 2020 Volvo S60 T8 R-Design averaged 7.5L/100 km – which is quite good. I charged it as much as I could, which through a level-one charger took about 9 hours (so, overnight charging) to top up the battery, and in return it would give me 37 km of electric only range – although, the best I saw during my cold test week was about 22 km. If you don’t drive a lot, than its electric range will look after most of your commute, but Volvo needs to look at increasing the battery capacity of this vehicle, because an electric range of about 100 km would inspire more buyers to go the plug-in hybrid route.
Pricing: The S60 range starts at a very reasonable $42,400 – which gives you a front-wheel drive model that is only turbocharged. By the time you add the T8 powertrain, with the R-Design trim, load it with options, and my tester was very nearly $80,000 – ouch!
Verdict: Given the size of the vehicle, and its limited electric range, most people will not opt for the Volvo S60 T8 R-Design. After all, for this kind of money, even Volvo will sell you the much larger S90 sedan, or even an XC90 SUV.
But, when you spend time in the S60 T8 R-Design, like I did, you’ll realize that you have to look past conventional logic, and the value it represents is based on performance and driver’s enjoyment. Think of it like a BMW M3, only the fast Volvo also happens to be the most fuel efficient – and then it begins to make sense.
I loved every moment I spent with this vehicle, and if I was looking at a new vehicle I’d drive for the next 10 years, a vehicle that would not only do the daily chores, but is also fun to drive when the road calls, than I’d be really very happy to bring one of these home!