The Swedish saloon has a 2,872mm wheelbase, which is the longest in the segment.
Premium Volvo S60 T4: Sensible Swede The Swedish saloon has a 2,872mm wheelbase, which is the longest in the segment. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

The new S60 is the first American-made Volvo imported here. It hails from a new plant which Geely-owned Volvo Cars has in Charleston, South Carolina.

If there had been doubts about the build quality of American-made cars in the past, the latest S60 puts them squarely to rest. As do a host of BMW and Mercedes-Benz sport utility vehicle models, which are made either in South Carolina or Alabama.

The new S60 is indistinguishable in fit and finish from its Swedish-made V60 wagon reviewed here last week.

It is also indistinguishable size-wise. The specs sheet, however, says the S60 sits 1mm lower and its tracks are slightly narrower (on account of tyre differences).

At the wheel, the S60 is as nimble and agile as its wagon twin, even if in T4 form. It is still a 2-litre turbo (paired with the same eight-speed autobox), but in a lower state of tune. It has 187bhp and 300Nm instead of 250bhp and 350Nm in the T5.

As a result, its century sprint time is 7.1 seconds, versus the T5's 6.5 seconds. Top speed is also slightly pared down to 220kmh, from 235kmh.

But for day-to-day driving, the S60 T4 is adequately brisk in all its tasks. Throttle response is light and crisp and the car has no trouble at all pulling away from the pack and staying ahead.

On the move, the car displays a lightness which was less obvious in the V60. This may be because the T4 is a front-wheel-drive, while the V60 T5 was an all-wheel-drive.

The latter is more than 70kg heavier. Moreover, it is shod with wider tyres to handle the higher output, and hence the difference in track dimensions. This offers better road adhesion, but at a small expense to sparkle and mischief.

With this, the S60 T4 is slightly more enjoyable than its more powerful wagon twin. The extra horsepower and torque you get with the T5 hardly come into play on Singapore roads.

The only discernible trade-off is ride comfort. The R-Design variant reviewed here sits on sports suspension, which somehow feels a bit more rigid and unyielding than the set-up for the V60 T5 R-Design.

Compared with the previous S60, the Swedish saloon is bigger all round, with its wheelbase having grown the most. In fact, at 2,872mm, it is the longest wheelbase in the segment.

As far as utility goes, this makes the S60 a viable contender against even the new BMW 3-series, which has also grown considerably.

It is priced $10,000 less than the S60 T5 R-Design, which is really not big enough a gap to sway sales significantly. But if you want a car which feels a bit more playful at the wheel, the T4 has a small edge.

It will also incur a slightly lower running cost, in terms of fuel efficiency and tyre replacement.