The 2008 Volvo S60’s peaky turbo power, five-cylinder harshness, lack of manual transmissions, and understeering front-wheel-drive architecture probably aren’t going to sway the BMW faithful, according to reviews from around the Web.
The S60 comes with only two flavors of a 2.5-liter, turbocharged inline-five cylinder. The light-pressure version brings 208 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque to the table; the high-pressure version clocks in at 257 and 258, respectively. Says Car and Driver, “refined isn't its middle name,” reminding us “this 2.5 is a transversely mounted in-line five, an inherently uncivilized layout.” The Auto Channel comments on the engine’s “unique five-cylinder howl” above 5,000 rpm. That said, the torque curve for both the base and higher-output varieties are pretty flat, and the horsepower figures are impressive, so acceleration remains class competitive, with a T5 yielding 0-60 times of 6.5 seconds, according to Car and Driver. “But the delivery isn't as linear as it is in a naturally aspirated Audi or BMW six,” they continue, hurting the S60 in the luxury class in which it plays. Others aren’t quite as critical. “The 2.5T engine provides good acceleration and plenty of passing power,” finds Kelley Blue Book, who also feels that it works “well with the Geartronic automatic transmission,” the only transmission offered, having lost its manual option for the ’08 model year.
The experts are split on the S60’s ride and handling, but no one would argue that a front-drive chassis can provide the kind of response and fun that a proper rear driver does. Kelley Blue Book points out one of the biggest issues associated with front-wheel drive, griping that “the high-powered T5's noticeable torque steer can, at times, become annoying.” They also malign its steering, saying it “does not feel as connected and precise as those of the BMW 3 Series or Infiniti G35.” Edmunds also feels that the “Swedish sedan's handling dynamics are a bit dull compared to newer rivals.” Of the steering, Automobile snipes that it “offers about as much feel as you'd get driving with woolly mittens.” ConsumerGuide praises the “satisfyingly solid structure,” but considers, as do others, that the ride is a bit harsh, allowing “minor road imperfections to be felt more than in most class rivals.”
“Brakes feel strong,” says ConsumerGuide, and Edmunds agrees, stating they “indeed exhibit impressive stopping ability.”
The Haldex all-wheel-drive system on the 2.5T AWD is a boon to those driving in inclement climes. Car and Driver declares it “formidable in the snow” or “snow-covered gravel and ice surfaces.”