CHATHAM, Mass. – Tell someone at your high school reunion you drive a Volvo sedan, and they will think you and your car are safe, solid, uninspiring – all the personality of Birkenstock sandals. Drive up in a 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge AWD Ultimate Black Edition sport sedan and they will wonder who came in the coolest car in the parking lot.
Still safe, solid, and unmistakenly Nordic/different inside, the S60 continues Volvo’s move into the 21st Century with modern styling, all-wheel drive, as well as a commitment to electrification – plug-in hybrid (PHEV) in this case — which have become characteristics of the brand’s entire lineup.
Twin Engine technology
Volvo christened its PHEV setup Twin Engine technology which in the case of the S60 Recharge indicates a powertrain with a 2.0-liter, inline four-cylinder turbocharged internal-combustion engine (ICE) driving the front wheels (aided by a generator starter motor) and a permanent magnet synchronous electric motor powering those in the rear.
The ICE produces 312 horsepower while the electric motor adds 143 hp for a performance-car combined output of 455 hp. The total torque, which contributed to the strong off-the line grunt, is 523 pounds-feet.
The subjective power feel was real. According to Car and Driver, the 2023 S60 Recharge produced 0-60 miles per hour times of 4.1 seconds, supercar territory (which is becoming almost second nature for many of today’s EVs, but a solid accomplishment for a hybrid).
For a lead-footed driver like me the near instantaneous performance, coupled with buttoned-down handling, provided a week’s worth of fun driving around Cape Cod while the 18.8 kWh high-voltage extended-range battery allowed me to avoid gas stations.
The S60 is rated at 33 miles of pure EV driving. I do not have exact figures, but in my week, I did not put any gas in the tank (the fuel-tank needle barely moved, and the computer said I was getting 138.1 miles per gallon). I charged the Volvo each night with the Autel MaxiCharger AC Wallbox Home unit plugged into a 240-Volt NEMA 14-50 outlet inside my garage which was the key to virtually all-electric driving.
A sport-sedan chassis
Volvo described its goals in designing the S60 chassis this way: “Our customers want a confident and engaging driving experience that delivers predictable, yet responsive handling characteristics . . .
“Our 60 Series cars are set up to make you feel inspired and confident, emphasizing the compactness and the engaging sense of control.”
The basic design incorporates a double wishbone setup up front with coil springs, hydraulic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar while an integral axle with transverse composite leaf spring, hydraulic shock absorbers and stabilizer bar take care of business at the rear.
Advanced electronic stability control adds its technology to help keep everything in order.
The brakes operate within 19-inch black alloy wheels shod with Pirelli P Zero All Season 235/40R-19 96V M+S tires.
And all of these pieces – as well as the engineering philosophy – work! The 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge is categorized as a sport sedan, a label which it earns through dynamic capabilities, as well as its ability to bring a smile to your face as you carve through the twisting roads in Truro, Mass.
A suite of ADAS expected from Volvo
The Swedish automaker made its bones in the American market as the provider of vehicles steeped in safety. From pioneering seatbelts to bodies designed first to protect the occupants then to dress up the mechanicals, including a comprehensive of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), which are supplemental safety features, is expected.
And the S60 Recharge Ultimate does not disappoint. The list includes Blind Spot Information System with Steer Assist and Cross Traffic Alert with Autobrake; Collision Avoidance featuring: Low & High Speed Collision Mitigation, ; Detects Vehicle/Pedestrian/Cyclist/Large Animal; Pilot Assist – Driver Assistance System with Adaptive Cruise Control; Lane Departure Warning / Lane Keeping Aid; Oncoming Mitigation by Braking; adaptive cruise control; front, side and rear park assist; and Rear Park Assist Camera, and 360° monitor.
Inside Ultimate pieces abound
Volvo vehicles, whether sedans, station wagons or SUVs, fit into the realm of premium or luxury (the definition being in the eyes of the marketing gurus). Features like leather upholstery; power adjustments for seats and lumbar support; seat heating; multi-zone automatic climate-control systems, and head-up display, found in the S60 Recharge Ultimate are expected in vehicles of this class, as is a high-end audio system within a comprehensive infotainment system.
The test vehicle included a Bowers and Wilkins premium sound system (a $3,200 optional upgrade from the standard Harman Kardon system) and a Google-enhanced infotainment system with a nine-inch tablet-oriented touch screen. The system includes Bluetooth streaming; SiriusXM satellite radio and travel services; wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto and four USB-C ports (two each in the front and rear).
The test vehicle came with the optional ($750) Climate Package consisting of headlight washers, heated rear seats and heated steering wheel.
These components provide for a comfortable, reasonably quiet – not silent which would be a bit out of place in such an aggressive sport sedan – environment for the occupants (four comfortably; five in a pinch). It is a more comfortable place from which to attack the road than some of its sport-sedan competitors, providing an excellent balance between comfort, livability and functionality without going overboard on the boy-racer fittings.
A very cool Volvo
The tester was a Black Edition, an appearance package (black metallic paint, black grill, black badging on trunk lid, charcoal leather upholstery and charcoal headliner), and its deep ebony paint simply increases the S60’s “cool” factor, providing it with a sinister look.
And all of this modern technology wrapped in a black, sexy sheath can be had for $63,690 (which includes $4,655 in options and $1,095 destination charge), a very competitive figure.