2012 Volvo S60 T5
2012 Volvo S60 T5. Click image to enlarge

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Review and photos by Peter Bleakney

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2012 Volvo S60

On sale now is an entry-level version of Volvo’s S60 mid-sized sedan called the T5. It is front-wheel drive only and gets motivation from a 2.5-litre turbocharged inline-five making 250 hp and 266 lb.-ft. at 1,800 rpm. A six-speed auto is the only available transmission.

To refresh your memory, the completely redone Volvo S60 T6 AWD arrived last year with a “naughty” ad campaign, playing up its sexy styling, standard all-wheel-drive and a 300 hp, 325 lb.-ft. turbo 3.0-litre straight-six.

An impressive car it is, and while its dynamics aren’t quite enough to avert the enthusiast’s gaze from the Fatherland to the Hinterland, the S60 T6’s combination of styling, interior design, comfort, safety and effortless speed make it a winner in my books.

2012 Volvo S60 T5
2012 Volvo S60 T5
2012 Volvo S60 T5. Click image to enlarge

But I think I like the T5 better, and not just because its starting price of $38,300 undercuts the T6 by $7,150. All the elements that make the T6 a very good car are intact here.

Starting with the sheet metal: rakish, taught and modern, yet possessing a degree of Scandinavian restraint that suggests an enduring design. It is marginally longer and wider than the previous S60, and features a bold grille and large headlight pods that sweep back over the front fenders. My tester’s optional 18-inch alloys filled the wheel wells nicely.

Things are equally pleasing on the inside. Volvo is adhering to a design theme that plays on contrasts – no Germanic coal-bin black in here. Jonathan Disley, chief designer for the S60, says “the inspiration comes from looking at Scandinavia in general,” drawing on the harsh contrasts that come with the seasons, as well as with the terrain and architecture.

So we have a finely rendered interior sporting a soft-touch dash and the trademark “waterfall” centre console trimmed with unique wood and metal accents. While the base T5 gets fabric seats, this tester sported the leather upgrade, here in brown Beechwood that set the cabin off nicely.

It all works too. Volvo makes some of the best seats in the business – supportive yet supremely comfortable. The simple and intuitive controls, featuring that human-esque tri-button HVAC control we all know and love keep the visuals elegant and uncluttered. Acura take note.

Despite the fast-back coupe roofline, headroom is not at a premium in the back. One of the keys to this is rear seating that was lowered and, for the outward positions, carved out a bit, allowing adequate headroom. The trunk is nicely finished and with the 60/40 rear seats down, it allows for a decent shop at Ikea.

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