The 2012 Volvo S60 T5 FWD is sexy and lean on the outside. Inside, it pampers the driver first, then all the riders, too. The electro-hydraulic, power-assisted rack-and-pinion steering is so sensitive it practically reads minds. It’s got a gutsy engine. If you like driving, you’ll like driving the 2012 Volvo S60 T5.
But here’s an interesting thought. You barely need to use the accelerator or brake, thanks to a clever new option. And the question that raises becomes: Would you want to?
The T5 is slightly less powerful than its sister, the T6, but no one here is complaining that it puts out 250 hp at 5,500 rpm and 266 pounds of torque at 1,800. With that much thrust available, you can pass the longest trucks almost instantly upon the slightest tap of the accelerator.
And you may want to keep that at a tap. Stomp, and you fly — but you know it’s going to cost you. Listing a fuel consumption of 11.7 L/100 km in the city and 7.8 on the highway, the 2012 S60 T5 is not quite your office lush at the holiday party open bar, but you will notice that lightness in your wallet after filling up.
That said: Step up, Volvo Adaptive Cruise Control!
Cruising is usually much better on fuel but this feature, as its name suggests, also adapts to the speed(s) of the car ahead of you, thus solving the frustration of other drivers suddenly slowing and accelerating. You set a (consider legal) speed and time/distance gap, then proceed. If the vehicle in front slows, so do you automatically. No desperate thumbing that minus sign, or last-minute braking. Move into an open lane, and it automatically accelerates until reaching your cruising speed — or until some other bonehead gets in your way. It doesn’t matter how long you take to find the open space to reach your preset cruising speed, this option keeps you safely behind whoever’s in front until they aren’t. Brilliant.
At first, Adaptive Cruise Control is probably far more adaptive than you. Once the car ahead slows, you’ll be tempted to manually or pedally (why isn’t that a word?) brake yourself. Same thing when you switch lanes: You’ll want to accelerate but don’t have to. It is somewhat disconcerting, but you get used to it. You…adapt. After an hour, you’ll probably like it.
Mind, the Adaptive Cruise Control feature isn’t cheap, coming with a $4,500 package that includes Volvo’s Driver Alert System, Blind Spot Information System, Park Assist and the truly disconcerting but brilliant safety feature, Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake.
This brings us back to the question: Would you want it? There are some drive-ease features that make great sense, like the electric Drive Away Release parking brake, ensuring that you never again need hear that strained gunning. And while no red-blooded man admits that he needs Park Assist, it is a huge convenience when you have it.
In any case, the Volvo S60 T5 FWD is that breed of performance sedan that gives full marks for participation.
It loves curves. Anywhere. Its turning circle is an agile 11.9 metres. It’s sportily tuned, with MacPherson suspension back and front, but still a smooth ride. It feels almost like cheating when made so much easier to operate, but it’s nice to have the choice. If you spend a lot of commuter time on the highways, that bump in price will quickly pay itself off in blood pressure meds and anger management classes.
In the New Year, we’ll have a look at this vehicle’s sister, the T6 R-Design.
2012 Volvo S60 T5 FWD
S60 T5 Base MSRP: $38,300
S60 T5 Level II MSRP: $39,950
As driven: $53,155
Image courtesy of Volvo.