Whenever Volvo is brought up, either one or two things come to mind: world’s safest car or SBS buses. While the latter impression is as unflattering as the square (literally and figuratively) sedans of yesteryears, you might want to change your mind about the Swedish brand as quick as we accelerated the S60T5 Drive-E sports sedan during our spontaneous drag race. More on that later.

Speaking of car shapes, we got to the Volvo showroom at Alexandra Road at 1030am to collect the keys and were blown away by the S60; Volvo is indeed revolutionizing its line by sportifying its brand new 2015 version and it now comes in rounder and sleeker curves. The Ice White unit we were assigned also sport 19” glossy black rims and that’s only part of the package that could turn us into almost-professional racers by night. There is a chance the late Paul Walker would be proud.

s60a

We slipped into the luxurious beachwood brown and black leather seats and started the car up with the “start/stop” technology. It gave out a rather quiet, eco-friendly rumble. Although our Volvo didn’t come completely fitted out in its R-Design sports kit, it was enough to garner both curious and envious onlookers as though I was cruising in an Audi R8. Then again, maybe it was because Daft Punk’s “Get lucky” was blasting through the Premium Sound with Harman Kardon amplified loudspeakers, with my windows wound down.

On hindsight now, the new 2015 S60 Drive-E has so much to offer it could potentially rank up there against the likes of Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. First and foremost would have to be the exceptional safety standards that we were repeatedly reminded of. There’s a reason why Volvo boast 4 out of 4 models that clinched the IIHS top safety pick; the S60 has a City Safety feature that pretty much ensures your chances of getting into an accident is close to zero, because the auto brake mechanism activates itself if you’re cutting too close to the front vehicle, or if you aren’t able to react in time when a jerk of a driver in front of you jerks to a sudden stop.

Protecting drivers and passengers is a given, but now Volvo has installed a dual stage airbag that also minimizes injuries in a hit-and-run. Here’s to hoping that you’ll never ever have to test that feature out. But anyway, as per their commitment to their own Vision 2020, no one should ever be killed or seriously injured in or by a new Volvo car. Amen to that!

IMG_9171

Long weekends only come by once in a blue moon, as do an opportunity to be behind the wheel of an exciting, pleasurable sports sedan. Therefore, there was no way we were missing out on a Labour Day night drag race to test out the true, unbridled power of the S60. We pitted it against a Toyota Corolla and surely it is a no-brainer which ride crossed the finish line first. I mean, what are you talking about? The Corolla can barely handle 100km/h without rattling like an unstable senior citizen. Moreover, it doesn’t have the turbocharged 4-cylinder engine of the S60.

We revved the car into readiness and blasted off along the eerily quiet streets of Seletar West Link.

With an 8-speed automatic transmission and sports mode for enthusiastic paddle shifters, the S60 accelerated to 100km/h in about 6 seconds. A few seconds later, we were whizzing by in a blur at 180km/h, just 50km/h short of the maximum speed.

And you can bet the Corolla was grossly overtaken under those 6 seconds.

We later did some fact finding and compared it to another similar sized sedan, the Mercedes Benz C200 AMG. The C200 takes 7.3 seconds to hit 100km/h, one second slower than the S60. Let’s not even talk about the Corolla; if we were to take our ride against the C200, we might have come out on top too.

s60b

The Volvo S60T5 Drive-E is going for SGD200k including COE. For that amount of dough, paradoxically, it could very well be an investment in accident-free, clean sheet record on the roads for as long as you’re driving it. Good bye, roadside assistances and bloody insurance settlements.

And for that amount of dough, you also get a bewildering eureka moment that Volvo isn’t all about SBS buses.