Backing up its aggressive looks, the 2012 Volvo S60 delivers on the performance front despite not offering a large V-8 engine.
Instead, the S60 takes its power from a choice of turbocharged in-line five- and six-cylinder engines. The S60 T5's engine is a 2.5-liter turbo in-line five-cylinder, good for 250 horsepower and 266 pound-feet of torque. It's not quite as strong as the T6 model, but delivers its torque from a very low 1,800 rpm. The T5 is only available in front-wheel drive.
The S60 T6 gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder, rated at 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It's the only engine available in the S60, but it's a very good one, feeling even more powerful than its numbers would suggest. It's paired with a six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive for easy driving and fast acceleration, plus great all-weather capability. Acceleration to 60 mph takes just 5.8 seconds, picking up speed very quickly once boost builds.
The S60 R Design also uses a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline six-cylinder, but in this application it's tuned for more power: 325 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque. This just adds to the T6's already very good acceleration. The R Design also gets a unique tuned suspension system standard, offering crisper handling and sportier ride.
Steering and handling are also very good, with excellent feel from the steering wheel in standard configuration, and a MyCar menu system that offers three different levels of driver-tunable assist for further enhancement. Despite the S60's weight and size, it's very maneuverable, feeling confident in high-speed turns and nimble in slow turns.
All of that said, the S60, while very fast and capable, isn't a track-bred sport sedan like some BMWs or S-line Audis. It's more than up to the dask on the street, but small delays in shift requests, throttle response, and other ride-smoothing characteristics become noticeable at pace on a track.
The S60 also doesn't offer paddle shifters on the steering wheel, instead forcing those who want to shift manually to use the console-mounted lever; the manual mode also doesn't hold gears like you'd expect, unexpectedly downshifting on heavy throttle when you might want to use a lower gear.