Adjectives like 'fast', 'performance' and 'sports' become Teflon when describing a Volvo. While most of Volvo's current range still prefer to be 'elegant', 'safe' and 'solid', the S60 T8 becomes a very striking exception.
The S60 T8 makes 407hp and 640Nm of torque, the sum of the turbocharged 2.0-litre mill and the electric motor that draws power from an 11.6kWh lithium-ion battery. Alone, the petrol engine makes an eye-widening 320hp and 400Nm while the motor contributes another 87hp and 240Nm.
The Volvo delivers a lively acceleration that presses you into the seat, albeit after a short wait. The eight-speed automatic shifts are quick to send power to all four wheels. It feels fast; there's no reason to doubt the claimed 0-100kph time of 4.4 seconds. This puts the S60 in the same frame as other sport-skewed saloons in its class.
However, as with all PHEVs, the S60 cannot maintain this level of performance all the time. The performance fade is noticeable as the battery charge depletes. So the Merc C43 AMG you overtook earlier will eventually come back like a haunting nightmare. Whipping the saloon drains the battery as quick as gulping cold water on a hot day, leaving you with just the 2.0-litre mill to run the show.
Thankfully, the 320hp and 400Nm on tap is more than enough to impress and escape corners. It will enliven the drive, especially on open roads. This, in fact, does not inspire the urgency to keep recharging the S60.
No one will use all of the Volvo's horses and torque in the city, and the relatively low traffic speed suits pure-electric drive just fine. Volvo claims that the S60 can travel up to 49km on electricity alone, which takes care of most everyday commutes. Getting the battery back to full charge takes about three hours when plugged into a 3.7kW output.
Power goes to all four wheels, giving the S60 confidence at highway speeds and stability in the winding roads. A firm yet supple chassis underpins the ride, flattening all but the largest of lumps and deepest of dips. Its refined ride is further enhanced with excellent noise and vibration dampening.
Speed on the straights is transferred well in the corners. The all-wheel drive system keeps the tyres nailed to the road so corners can be taken faster. Its excellent body control keeps the drive interesting through the journey.
However, what holds the S60 from becoming a convincing sports sedan is its steering, which could be sharper and quicker. And it wouldn't hurt to have more engine-growl filtered into the cabin.
In fact, almost nothing reaches the cabin. The sound is dampened to allow for quiet conversations in the car. The springs and dampers absorb nearly all the road's harshness. And the chassis is solid enough not to give into vibrations. You'll definitely be riding in refined comfort, something that Volvo is well-known for.
Volvo certainly didn't skimp on the interior's materials — or it certainly feels like it. Most of the surfaces are wrapped leather-like materials with sprinklings of piano-black plastics and highlights with aluminium bits. The R-Design seats, trimmed in charcoal black Nappa leather and Nubuck fabric, feels great.
The interior design is a carbon copy of the Volvo S90 and, indeed, the entire Volvo range. The similarities are not just on the outside; the S60 receives the same active safety features of the larger saloon and the CBU version. The CKD version adds Park Assist to the mix.
No one will differentiate the CBU and the CKD S60, complete with the R-Design bodykit that makes the Volvo a head-turner. More importantly, Volvo made the S60 look fast without the help from over-sized grilles, over-flared fenders and over-the-top rear spoiler. The S60 in this form looks tastefully classy and looks more expensive than it really is.
The Volvo S60 T8 costs RM295,888 on-the-road without insurance. For that money, you'll be enjoying a car a well-made, well-balanced car. The S60's refined chassis and the finely-tuned suspension keeps the drive lively without upsetting the people inside. The saloon is reasonably fast when it needs to be and can stop drinking petrol when the situation allows for it. The S60 can outrun the competition or run completely silent in EV mode when it's fully charged. And it's this duality that makes the S60 T8 a fantastic drive.
Specification: Volvo S60 T8 R-Design
Engine 1,969cc, 4-cylinder, inline-4, supercharged & turbocharged, plug-in hybrid, electric motor, 11.6 kWh lithium-ion hybrid battery | Transmission 8-speed automatic with Geartronic, all-wheel drive | Engine Power & Torque 320hp / 400Nm | Electric Motor Power & Torque 87hp / 240Nm | Total Output 407hp / 640Nm | Performance 0-100kph in 4.4s, max speed 250kph, 2.0l/100km, EV Range 49km | Price RM295,888.00