The land of the midnight sun, Ikea, Stieg Larsson. These are some of the things that spring to mind when I think of Sweden. And of course the most iconic thing that everyone thinks of is: Volvo.

This past week I had the opportunity to drive what some might consider to be the “accountant” of the automotive world. And let me tell you right now, the S60 is anything but.

The S60 is the smallest sedan available in the Volvo lineup. Starting at $39,150 you are given a choice of three engines, but a wide range of options and features. The model I had tested was the S60 T6 R-Design Platinum equipped with the Technology Package option, which totals $59,605 before taxes.

What powers the S60 R-Design is a 325HP 3.0 litre In-line 6 Turbo with Intercooler engine – simply called the T6 Engine, and it is paired up with a 6-speed automatic transmission with all-wheel drive. In fuel economy, Volvo states that this car can do 11.7L/100km in the city, 8.0L/100km on the highway and a combined 10L/100km.

On my tests, while keeping up with traffic, I was able to manage 10.3L/100km in the city, 9.2L/100km on the highway and a combined 11.6L/100km. And that was with the A/C going on some of the days, and the heater on others.

There are so many safety features on the S60 R-Design that I could write out an entire essay and still wouldn’t be able to cover it all.

There is a reason why it has repeatedly earned the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) Top Safety Pick since 2011 and has received the 5 star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) for 2013. From Blind-spot Information System (BLIS) to Lane Departure Warnings to Collision and Pedestrian Avoidance, this car is loaded with safety features. The only safety feature that I could tell was missing was an escape pod.

Swedish KITT

Inside the car, there are more features than you’d know what to do with. Through the centre console, you were able to control and adjust practically everything in the car. If you wanted the GPS to display in a split screen mode, you were able to do that. If you wanted adjust the resistance of the steering wheel, you were able to do that. I was half expecting the car to start talking with all the settings it had.

But that’s also a problem. With so much to choose from, it’s hard to find what you need. It took me a good 2 minutes to just cancel the navigation program on the GPS before I reached my destination.

Thankfully, a lot of the main settings that you’d need were buttons on their own in the centre console. From turning off some of warning systems to changing your radio, it was all there.

And everything was easily within reach of the driver and the passenger, with large buttons that you knew you pushed even when wearing leather winter gloves.

And I have to hand it to the Swedes. They think of everything. The backseat headrests are full-size headrests, which slightly expands the already existing blind spot behind you. To make your life a little easier, on the centre console, they’ve installed a button that unlocks the headrests and folds them down without having to get into the back seat of the car. I like to call that button the “Child Disciplinary Button” with how quickly they release from the lock.

But the real charm of the S60 R-Design is the drive.

This car lives by the rule of “Walk softly and carry a big stick.” It doesn’t even look like the Volvo of old.

With two driving modes: regular and sport, this is not a car that sits still for long. To give you an idea of the acceleration: in the regular drive mode merging onto the highway, you’ll be able to get up to speed by the time you’re half-way down the on-ramp. In sport mode, that distance is cut in half.

And in Sport mode, you’re able to change gears manually. But I found that the transmission responded to my input perfectly that I didn’t need to change the gears myself.

Driving the S60 is not like driving a couch. You feel the bumps, but you also feel connected to the road with thanks to its sport tuned chassis. Handling is precise in this car. With the all-wheel drive, you’re very hard pressed to find yourself in trouble with the S60 R-Design.

When driving at night, through heavy winds and rain, the S60 was very well planted to the ground. Where other cars were struggling against the strong head-wind, the Volvo ploughed through it as though it was a warm summer day.

One of the many fun features this car has is the adaptive cruise control. It’s very easy feature to use. If you have the cruise control set, and you come up to slower moving traffic – the car will automatically slow itself down, match speeds and keep a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you. It also will slow all the way down to a full stop, should the traffic suddenly come to a complete stop. This, like many of the other features can be overridden by the driver, if he or she touches the brake or the gas pedal.

Driving on Toronto city streets, with their street-car tracks, the car handles perfectly. With its wide tires and all-wheel drive system, you’re not fighting the road to keep the car going straight.  The S60 is as confident in the city as it is on the highway.

With a multitude of choices in luxury sport sedans, the S60 T6 R-Design can keep up with the Germans, while not hurting your insurance.


Fast Facts:

2013 Volvo S60 T6 R-Design Platinum
Type: Luxury Sports Sedan
Price Range: $59,605
Engine: 3.0-litre, In-line 6 Turbo with Intercooler engine
Horsepower: 325 hp
Transmission: 6 Speed Automatic
Drive: All-wheel drive
Competitors: Lexus IS-350 AWD, Mercedes C-350 4Matic, Cadillac ATS4, BMW 335i x-Drive, Audi S4