Tested: 2023 Volvo S60 Recharge makes the leap – car and driver | CarTailz

Back when mad Maine tuner Ross dropped Converse Mustang V-8s into Volvo engine bays, it was hilarious to imagine a Volvo that could hit 60 mph in under six seconds. These were cars for Paul Newman and David Letterman, supercharged sleepers with rough performance that belied their Bar Harbor antique dealer design. Today, Volvo is its own tuner, as exemplified by the 2023 S60 Recharge. Like Newman’s Converse-modified 960, the S60 uses forced induction. Unlike the supercharged tuner sled of yore, this one is turbocharged and electrified thanks to its rear-mounted electric motor. With 312 horsepower from the 2.0-liter inline four up front and 143 horsepower from the electric motor, the S60 Recharge claims the title of most powerful Volvo ever, with a combined output of 455 horsepower and 523 pound-feet of torque. Sure, that title applies to any other model offering that powertrain, but a win is a win.

As complicated as this drivetrain is, it proved extremely reliable during our 40,000-mile test of a 2020 model, even with modest maintenance costs. This car, which produced 400 hp, hit 60 mph in 4.3 seconds. This one, with its extra muscle, knocks a few ticks off that time, hitting 60 in 4.1 seconds and doing the quarter mile in 12.5 seconds at 112mph. That quarter-mile time would be faster if the S60 weren’t approaching its stingy 184 km/h speed limiter mid-run, which would cause it to start derating at around 110 km/h.

Highlights: Hits 60 mph in 4.1 seconds, usable EV range and performance, reasonable base price.

This conflict – a sports car’s acceleration versus a party-goer’s speed limiter – is emblematic of the larger contradictions of the S60 Recharge. On the one hand, it seems determined to maintain a safe and sane Volvo image to the extent that there’s not even a sport mode. But on the other hand: 455 horsepower and a 60 mph time that matches that of a relatively new 2014 Porsche 911 Targa 4S PDK. Discovering that the respectably stylish S60 Recharge Camaros can smoke off the leash is like discovering that Ned Flanders is cunning. Stupid sexy Flanders.

As well as adding raw power, the upgraded hybrid components allow the S60 to function perfectly as an electric vehicle, which wasn’t really the case with 87 electric horsepower. With 143 hp and its larger 14.9 kWh battery, the S60 could now operate in EV mode as a legitimate everyday driver. Its EPA-rated range is 41 miles, and we saw a range of 34 miles during our 75-mph freeway test. In traffic, you no longer have to accelerate to prevent the petrol engine from igniting. If you step on the gas through an intersection during a 90-degree turn, you may hear an agonized whine from the rear tires. (In EV mode, the S60 Recharge is rear-wheel drive.)

The S60’s instrument panel includes a display that lets you know how close you are to firing the petrol engine, with a pictogram of a drop of fuel (or perhaps a teardrop) representing the point at which you switch into hybrid mode. Staying below that line is easy enough, but when you enter hybrid mode the Recharge is still admirably economical, returning 37 MPGe on our highway fuel economy test and 28 MPGe overall. As an added bonus of the enlarged battery, the Recharge is now eligible for the full $7500 electric car tax credit. With the plug-in powertrain costing $9,950 more than a gas S60, that potential net upcharge of $2,450 makes the PHEV seem like an easy option.

Aside from its scalding straight-line performance and frugal economy, the S60 Recharge boasts decent but not stellar numbers. (If you want the S60’s chassis to match its performance, Polestar Engineered trim is a $16,800 option over the base Core model and $10,100 more than the Ultimate Black Edition.) Braking out 70 miles per hour required 178 feet, while stopping at 100 mph stretched that number to 359 feet. However, the Volvo’s brakes were relentless and showed no let-up even after several triple-digit stops. The S60’s 0.85g skidpad grip might have been higher, but was hampered by it TSK tsk of the stability control system. Like a ’69 Chevy Chevelle SS, the S60 Recharge prefers the drag strip to the street course. And like a hybrid Ford Maverick pickup, this sedan is rated for a 2000-pound towing capacity, opening up interesting possibilities for flyweight travel trailers and glamping.

Lows: Electronics that are fun, mellow handling, Polestar Engineered is an additional $16,800.

While the revised powertrain is the headline upgrade, Volvo has also updated the S60’s infotainment system, which is now Google-based (including Maps, Assistant and Play Store). And the Black Edition on test – which brings black trim and wheels and is only available in Onyx Black Metallic or Crystal White Metallic – was new last year. But most of the S60’s changes get under the (still beautiful) skin.

That’s probably one reason why the S60 beats considering its style and performance at a reasonable price. The base price of the S60 Recharge is $52,345, so with the $7,500 credit you could get a net price of $44,845 for a 455hp Swedish van. Our loaded Ultimate Black Edition, which included niceties like heated front and rear seats, a heated steering wheel, and a head-up display, was $62,995. A full $3200 of that was the Bowers & Wilkins sound system, which you could skip if you can live with the standard Harman Kardon system. But Volvo’s Bowers & Wilkins systems are some of the best factory audio setups you can buy. So look at it this way – it’s like spending part of that tax credit on booming bass and tweeters that you want to display in your room.

In essence, the 2023 S60 Recharge looks the same as previous cars of this generation, but it’s now radically better at its plug-in mission: charge it every night and you might only need the petrol engine for long drives and brake light races. Most mid-cycle refreshers are cosmetic in nature. This one is transformative.



2023 Volvo S60 charging
Vehicle Type: Front Engine, Rear Engine, RWD/4WD, 5-Person, 4-Door Sedan

Base/as tested: $52,345/$62,995
Options: Ultimate Black Edition (360-degree camera, heated front seats, heads-up display, four-way lumbar support, adaptive cruise control, black grille and badges, metallic paint, anthracite leather interior), $6700; Bowers & Wilkins stereo, $3200; Climate package (headlight cleaning system, heated steering wheel and outboard rear seats), $750

DOHC 2.0 liter, 16-valve, intercooled, in-line four, 312 hp, 295 lb-ft + AC engine, 143 hp, 228 lb-ft (combined output: 455 hp, 523 lb-ft; 14.9 kWh lithium-ion battery pack; 3.7 kW onboard charger)
Transmission: 8-speed automatic/direct drive

Suspension, F/R: Wishbone/Multilink
Brakes, F/R: 14.6″ ventilated disc / 12.6″ ventilated disc
Tyres: Pirelli P Zero All Season
235/40R-19 96V M+S VOL

Wheelbase: 113.1 inches
Length: 187.4 inches
Width: 72.8 inches
Height: 56.3 inches
Passenger volume: 92 ft3
Trunk volume: 12 ft3
Curb weight: 4457 lbs

60mph: 4.1 sec
100mph: 9.9s
1/4 mile: 12.5 sec at 112 mph

The above results leave out a 0.2 second 1 foot rollout.
Rolling start, 5-60 mph: 4.5 sec
Top gear, 30-50 mph: 2.5 sec
Top gear, 80-110 km/h: 3.1 sec
Top speed (Government Ltd): 114 mph
Braking, 70-0 mph: 178 ft
Braking, 100-0 mph: 359 ft
Road holding, 300 ft skidpad: 0.85 g

Observed: 28 MPGe
125 km/h motorway driving, EV/Hybrid mode: 69 MPGe/37 mpg
125 km/h highway range, EV/Hybrid mode: 54/580 miles

Combined/City/Highway: 31/30/33 mpg
Combined petrol + electricity: 74 MPGe
EV range: 41 miles


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