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New Car/Review


Volvo S60 T5 (2001)

SEE ALSO: Volvo Buyer's Guide

By Matt/Bob Hagin


     Manufacturer's Suggested Retail Price              $ 31,800
     Price As Tested                                    $ 40,325
     Engine Type        DOHC 20-valve turbo 2.3 Liter I5 w/SMFI*
     Engine Size                                 141 cid/2319 cc
     Horsepower                                   247 @ 5200 RPM
     Torque (lb-ft)                               243 @ 2400 RPM
     Wheelbase/Width/Length                  106.9"/71.0"/180.2"
     Transmission                              Five-speed manual
     Curb Weight                                     3552 pounds
     Fuel Capacity                                  21.1 gallons
     Tires  (F/R)                           225/45R17 all-season
     Brakes (F/R)                          Disc (ABS)/disc (ABS)
     Drive Train                  Front-engine/front-wheel-drive
     Vehicle Type                       Five-passenger/four-door
     Domestic Content                                        N/A
     Coefficient of Drag (Cd.)                              0.28


     EPA Economy, miles per gallon
        city/highway/average                            21/28/23
     0-60 MPH                                        7.0 seconds
     1/4 (E.T.)                          15.5 seconds @ 97.0 mph
     Top-speed                                (Governed) 129 mph
                 * Sequential multi-port fuel injection

("Ford took over Volvo and added considerable color to that restrained Swedish company's products," says Bob Hagin. Matt Hagin says its new S60 should attract a clientele that's not quite so `gray.')

MATT - Volvo has never been known for attracting younger upscale buyers. Its products were rarely attention-getters, unless they were parked in front of a Young Conservationists Conference meeting. Volvo's reputation has been built around no-nonsense vehicles that are sturdy, reliable and above all, very safe for the family. Its family orientation is attested to by the fact that its four-door station wagons account for nearly 70 percent of Volvo's sales in this country. Volvo has made some pretty hot performers in the past and one in particular comes to mind. It was the '95 T5R that Volvo labeled "Thor's Hammer," and it was good for around 150 mph. It could also do 0 to 60 in under seven seconds.

BOB - Thor's Hammer had one thing going against it, Matt. It still looked like a big, boxy family wagon. The new Volvo S60 four-door definitely gets away from that "shoe-box" school of design and is as swoopy and svelte as anything on the market. It was designed in Volvo's studio in Southern California and has the contemporary swept-down nose/ short-overhang look. The S60 is a complete makeover this year and it's built on a cut-down S80 platform. Its sculptured 'shoulders' run the length of the body from just below the top of the trunk to just below the top of the hood. It ends at a small, stylized version of the traditional Volvo grille. At 3400 pounds, the S60 is classified by the government as "mid-sized" and it's listed as being a five-seater.

MATT - The S60 comes in three levels of trim, starting with the base 168-horse 2.4 version. Next up the line is the 2.5T which is basically the same car but equipped with a relatively low-pressure turbocharger that boosts the power up to 197. The last in the lineup is the T5, which is also turbocharged, but pumped-up to produce 247 horsepower. All the S60s carry the same twin-cam five-cylinder engine and they can all be had with either the standard five-speed stick shift or a five-speed automatic. On the hotter models, the automatic can be had with a manu-matic gear shift system that allows the driver to shift up and down with a flick of the shifter. I particularly appreciated the no-frills speedometer and tachometer which were large and easy-to-read, and to increase rearward vision, the rear head rests can be lowered via a dash-mounted switch.

BOB - The very luxurious leather-covered front seats are surprisingly supportive and well-bolstered. This is to keep the driver and passenger from being tossed around when the driving gets 'spirited', a situation that comes about often in the T5 hot-rod version that we tried. It also is turbocharged, but at a higher pressure than the 2.4T version. That model isn't as fast or as quick off-the-line as Thor's Hammer, but it's close. The T5 exhibits some torque-steer under hard acceleration, but that's to be expected with a front-drive car that puts out so much power. It also tends to understeer or "plow" a bit when it's pushed into tight corners but that's also understandable because it's a front-wheel drive car. Our car had an optional Sport Package, along with optional 17-inch wheels and P235 low-profile all-season rubber, which I'm sure adds a great deal to its handling.

MATT - Besides the now-almost common navigational system and GPS-triggered anti-theft system that calls the cops if the S60 is stolen, buyers can opt for laminated side window glass that resists attacks by stoplight thieves if they try smash-grab-and-run burglaries. It's extra, but it might come in handy if the owner needs to drive through less-than genteel neighborhoods in metropolitan areas. To rephrase a motto from an old Oldsmobile ad, this new S60 isn't your father's Volvo.

BOB - That's sure true in you own case, Matt. Your father's Volvo was a '54 model 544 two-door sedan that looked a lot like the '40 Ford Tudor that your grandfather loved so much.