2013 Volvo S60 Performance

8.0
Performance

For the most part, the 2013 Volvo S60 models deliver on the performance they suggest with their aggressive styling. Although even at the top of the performance ladder, the R-Design models might not quite deliver the sharp-edged performance weekend-racer types want.

There's plenty to delight everyone else, though, and there's a solid lineup of turbocharged in-line five- and six-cylinder engines. And for 2013, the lineup of base five-cylinder Volvo S60 models grows larger with the introduction of new all-whee-drive S60 T5 models. The compression ratio has been upped and turbo boost is higher (16 psi), to allow 0-60 mph in 6.8 seconds with front-wheel drive--pretty quick for the base engine.

2013 Volvo S60 T6 models provide strong, well-rounded performance, while R-Design models don't quite deliver the track-day chops they tease.

The S60 T6 gets a 3.0-liter turbocharged in-line six-cylinder, rated at 300 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. It feels even stronger than its numbers might suggest, and while it's disappointing that there's no manual gearbox available the six-speed automatic transmission and all-wheel drive pair for easy driving, fast acceleration, confident traction and great all-weather capability. These models can get to 60 mph in about 5.8 seconds.

At the top rung is the S60 R Design, which essentially gets a 'chipped' version of the same turbo six good for 325 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque; and there's really no fuel economy or drivability tradeoff. To go with it, the R Design gets a unique tuned suspension system standard, offering crisper handling and sportier ride.

There are a couple of disappointments related to the transmission, though. The S60 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.

Even in its other variations, the S60 already steers and handles well, and a MyCar menu system that offers three different levels of driver-tunable assist for further enhancement. The S60 is a little heavier than it looks, yet it's nimble enough for hairpins and maneuverable enough for tight city streets. For 2013 Volvo has increased the front disc brake diameter of R-Design models, from 12.4 to 13.2 inches, which should address one performance issue we noted on the track.

All considering, the S60 isn't quite a track-day sport sedan, even in its R-Design trim, where it still doesn't feel as sharp as you might hope. It's better-suited to the street, where it feels responsive enough, without making too many compromises.

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