Many moons ago, when I was in college, auditing an architecture and design course, we learned about a high-end chair designed by the husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1956. It was over 20 years before I had a chance to sit in an original Eames Chair, and it was an experience I’ll never forget.
So jump ahead many years later and I’m sitting in the luxurious grasp of the new Volvo S60, T6, and that feeling comes back to me… “This is like sitting in that original Eames Chair, and if the car drives as anything like it holds you, Volvo has a winner here.”
Now the S60 may not become an icon of aesthetic design and comfort, but it is on the vanguard of the more practical realm of safety, through design.
Volvo Synonymous with Safety
Whether by marketing genius or admincular evidence, Volvo has a longstanding reputation for passenger safety. That rep will only increase with the S60, as the T6 version offers the optional, and as futuristic as the Eames chair was in 1956, Pedestrian Detection System with Full Auto Brake, which can sense bodies over 31 inches – and other vehicles, to apply full braking force at speeds up to 35 km per hour.
Then there are the standard safety features, including anti-lock disc brakes, stability and traction control, front-seat side airbags, full-length side curtain airbags and front head restraints. And don’t forget the ‘City Safety’ feature, which pays attention, even when you don’t, by constantly monitoring the traffic ahead for slowed or stopped vehicles, the S60 automatically applies the breaks at up to 30 km/h before you get too close and prevents a crash.
And watch for Volvo bringing out an ‘Animal Detection System’ in the future, which will definitely be a welcome feature in our land of moose, deer and other, unpredictable four-legged friends… a problem we share with the Volvo designers in Sweden.
It can only be a matter of time before these types of innovations are mandated on all cars in North America. With the gridlock in major urban centres, minor fender benders can cost millions of dollars in wasted time and productivity – and then there’s the rising costs of insurance and bumper repairs… oh yeah, and more of us will get to our destination without injury.
Included in the S60 T6 safety package are other technologies which really should become ubiquitous in car design, including adaptive cruise control, lane departure alarms, blind spot warnings and front and rear parking sensors.
Ok, we get it, it’s safe – but how does it drive? Well, like a Volvo should be, it’s comfy and practical. There’s room enough for everyone, with good sight lines, (though the pedestrian detection system sitting on the windshield on the other side of your rear view mirror takes a little while to get used to) and decent trunk space. The design is more rounded and reminiscent of its Swedish cousin the SAAB, than the traditional Volvo box, and the logo badge on the font grill continues to grow in size for some unexplained reason.
The drive is solid, as expected, with tight, almost resistant steering that is reminiscent of Newton’s law of motion, (for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction) but each intention is delivered precisely. Unlike the interchangeable Japanese sedans you can drive with your pinky finger, you know when you’re driving a Volvo.
- 6 cylinder Turbo Charged engine
- All Wheel Drive
- 300 HP
- 325 lb-ft torque
- 0-100 in 6.1 seconds
- 2012 S60 T6 AWD with navigation & safety options, MSRP $53,215