It wasn’t that long ago that Volvos were essentially considered to be safety boxes on wheels. But over the last decade or so, the cars from Gothenburg have evolved into curvaceous vehicles that retain the safety of their boxy predecessors. The 2011 Volvo S60, perhaps the most elegant Volvo yet, is set to debut at the 2010 Geneva motor show this March.
With the 2011 S60, Volvo aimed for a sportier and more visually enticing design by incorporating the look of a four-door coupe. The S60’s new rakish roofline is part of the flowing styling dubbed “racetrack” design, which means that the car’s lines don’t end abruptly at any point but instead flow organically around the entire vehicle. With its sculpted front fascia, short overhangs, and flowing taillights, we have to say the S60’s design really works.
Volvo didn’t leave the sporty changes just to the S60’s styling, however, as the new S60 has a more dynamic chassis than any Volvo before it. The S60 sports stiffer springs all around and a stiffer chassis to increase grip and give the driver more control. Along with all of these upgrades in the name of sporty driving, Volvo improved the damping to provide a balance between stiffness and ride comfort.
“We spent many weeks fine-tuning the dampers out in the English countryside,” says Stefan Sällqvist, who led the S60 chassis development. “We drove on old Roman roads that have only ever received a few layers of tarmac over the centuries -- a perfect environment for finding the right damping qualities.”
Powering this sporty Volvo is the same 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder engine found in several vehicles in Volvo’s lineup. As of now, this is the only engine known to be coming to the U.S. Whether other engines will be available remains to be seen. In Europe, drivers will also get the choice of two diesel powerplants when the A60 is launched, with another diesel and three gasoline engines available shortly afterward. These engines are all coupled to either a six-speed automatic or a six-speed manual transmission. The manual transmission option may also be omitted from the American S60 lineup.
Volvo’s designers continued with the racetrack-design theme inside the car. The entire interior was designed to look as if it’s in motion. There is more legroom in the rear and the seats back there have been reshaped to offer more lateral support, but, unlike other four-door coupes, three passengers can still ride on the back bench. The S60 also adopts a new infotainment system that allows the driver access via steering wheel controls, standard controls underneath the screen, or voice recognition, when equipped. A new high-end radio from Audyssey Laboratories also equalizes the sound system automatically.
As with all Volvos, the S60 comes with a host of safety features. Volvo’s City Safety, which automatically applies the brakes to reduce the damage from or completely eliminate crashes below 18 mph, is standard. A new pedestrian detection system can apply full braking power to reduce the force of a collision with a pedestrian at speeds up to 21 mph. In addition, the new S60 is available with driver alert control, a blind spot warning system, lane departure warning, and numerous airbags.
Look for the 2011 Volvo S60 to make its world debut this March at the Geneva motor show. Volvo has not yet released any further details on pricing or an on sale date, but expect the car to make it into showrooms later this year.