Volvo’s XC90 may be the oldest Volvo on sale but is it the Swede gettin’ some facelift-love? Nej. Swedish spy photographers over at Teknikens Värld have snapped some shots of the mid-sized S60 being refreshed for 2014. Want to know what they said without grabbing a babel fish? Click past the jump and see how much I remember from my high school Swedish lessons.
When Volvo introduced the S60 in 2011, the Swedes advertised their mid-sized sedan as the naughtiest Volvo ever thanks to a 300HP turbocharged engine. While I’m sure former “R owners” would disagree, the S60 has met with sales success with over 18,000 units sold so far this year, a 14% increase over last year. In 2012 Volvo added a less powerful FWD model to the mix to cut the price of entry. For 2013 Volvo has further expanded the S60 line by adding a torque vectoring AWD system to the lightest S60. Volvo also tells us they have completely refreshed their T5 engine for 2013 and tweaked the transmission for the naughty Volvo’s first retouch ahead of the rumored 2014 refresh. Huh? Yep, Volvo’s gettin’ down with the yearly refresh. Does that make the T5 AWD the naughtiest Volvo ever? Let’s find out.
While Volvo has had the occasional flirtation with performance (the 850R and S60R/V70R twins spring immediately to mind) the Swedish brand is most know for a dedication to safety. It was safety that attracted me to buy my first Volvo, a 1998 S70 T5 (5-speed manual of course), but it was performance that resulted in my second Volvo purchase, a 2006 V70R (6-speed manual). Unlike my Swedespeed.com brothers, however I had no delusions about the future of the R brand as Volvo doubled-down on their core. The R-Design models are a concession to speed freaks with a Swedish soft spot. Let’s see if they can fill the void.
I read TTAC regularly and am debating what to do about getting a new car. The situation is I had a 2001 Volvo S60 which started experiencing transmission “issues” that the mechanic could not replicate, so I traded it for a 09 Fit to get better mileage. The Fit was an excellent appliance car, but felt a bit tinny after the relative comfort and solidity of the S60. The new Lexus CT200h got me excited and my sister-in-law needed a new car so I sold her the Fit and am awaiting the Lexus. However it appears that actually fitting my kids in the back of Lexus won’t work. What would you suggest as a car? I want good mileage, because I have a city commute, a bit of luxury and reliability with not ridiculous repair costs. I had hoped the Mercedes C300 Estate would come here, but it won’t and BMW has me concerned about repairs costs. Could I be happy with a used Lexus SportCross? Please provide your perspective.
Quite a few of you balked at the idea of a $47,610 not-quite-midsize Volvo sedan. Well, for 2012 a T5 joins the S60 range. While the T6 might venture a bit deep into Audi and BMW territory, with a $31,850 base price the T5 is within striking distance of the similarly semi-premium front-drive Acura TSX and Buick Regal. But how much of the T6’s self-proclaimed naughtiness must one do without? Is the more affordable T5 a match for the Acura and Buick, much less the Germans?
Judge me if you must, but when I think of “naughty Swede,” NSFW images of a blonde au pair in a slutty French maid outfit flash in my head. It therefore struck me as a bit odd that Volvo, long known for being the Birkenstock of the auto, would start running TV and internet ads calling the new S60 “naughty.” What exactly is a naughty Volvo? As the former owner of a V70R, I had to hit Volvo up for one to find out.
Remember the 240? Volvo clearly wishes you didn’t. Instead, they’d rather you think of the thoroughly redesigned 2011 S60 T6 as “naughty” despite a bevy of new safety features. Just a tease—again—or does this Volvo actually put out?
In recent years Sweden’s car makers have staked out an uneasy position above the mainstream brands but below the premium European marques. With profits elusive, both were recently sold by their American owners. And both are about to introduce new sedans that they badly need to sell well. How does the pricing of the new 2011 Volvo S60 and 2010 Saab 9-5 compare? Has either been priced aggressively to pump up sales?
We’ve already laid into Saab’s new 9-5 for launching with with only the 300hp, AWD “Aero” trim level, for which the former GM division wants a base price of about $50k. That asking price just became a little more ridiculous as Volvo has announced base pricing for its new S60 sedan at $37,700. And guess what? That’s for the 300 hp, AWD “T6″ version as well, which is also the only trim level available at launch. Volvo 1, Saab 0. UPDATE: OK, OK, we admit that Volvo’s “win” here is minimal. A lower base price does potentially bring in more buyers, but on an apples-to-apples basis, the two Swedes are pretty much a wash, price-wise. Which still leaves plenty of room for debate… and inevitable references in each others reviews. Besides, both models will offer cheaper versions over time. Does this make us think Saab’s $50k fan tax is any less ridiculous? Not a bit. But then, only time and test drives will truly tell if Saab’s gamble has paid off.
Customers in this segment want emotional appeal, sporty design and dynamic driving properties. The S60 has it all. We are convinced that it will be one of the strongest contenders around
Volvo CEO Stephen Odell explains in the press release for the new S60 why people who buy 3 Series sedans don’t cross-shop Volvo… and why he wants to expand his brand so that someday they might. But leaving aside the sad fact that every luxury brand wants to build “the new 3 Series,” we’re having a hard time figuring this move out. Considering that Volvo is about to get a Chinese-style upscale overhaul, expect the “dynamic driving properties” part of the “what does Volvo stand for this week” exercise to fall off the radar with haste. And really, Volvo makes a lot more sense as a Euro-tinged, safety-forward alternative to Lexus and (in China) Buick than a BMW wannabe.