2020 Volvo S60 T8 R-Design, best value-for-money compact exec?

Shaun · Jan 10, 2021 06:00 PM

The locally-assembled (CKD) Volvo S60 T8 R-Design was launched in 2020 at identical price to the fully-imported (CBU) version – RM 295,888 (OTR with SST, without insurance). Price with SST exemption is RM 282,540, valid until 30 June 2021.

Remind me again, what’s changed in the CKD model?

Some were expecting a drop in price for the CKD model but as Volvo mentioned during the launch of the CBU version, it was already priced as a CBU. Features remained largely the same as well, save for a few items like the removal of 12V socket in the boot and split folding seats.

Alright, which other cars in its class I can consider?

The Volvo S60 T8 R-Design goes directly against the G20 BMW 330e M Sport and its adjacent combustion-engine-only variant – the 330i M Sport. It also competes against the Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line. But really, if you put all of them side by side, the Volvo S60 T8 will triumph.

Really? What makes the Volvo S60 T8 so astonishing?

Let’s start with the powertrain, the Volvo S60 T8 has a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged 4-cylinder engine that powers the front wheels, making 320 PS/400 Nm.

That’s not all. At the rear axle, there’s an electric motor that provides 87 PS/240 Nm, giving a combined output of 407 PS/640 Nm. An 8-speed automatic handles transmission duty.

We’ve tested the Volvo S60 T8 to complete the 0-100 km/h sprint at 4.9 seconds. Not quite the 4.4 seconds as claimed but impressive nonetheless and quicker than all its closest rivals, PHEV or otherwise.

Intriguing. But you know what they say – with great power, comes… you know the rest.

Funny that’s mentioned, because it takes 36.4 metres for the Volvo S60 T8 to come to a halt from 100 km/h. Its competitors, the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, average 38 metres.

Also, it gets the whole suite of IntelliSafe with AEB, LKA, CTA, BLIS, Oncoming Lane Mitigation, and Run-off road Mitigation.

The Volvo S60 T8 is the only one in its segment with level 2 semi-autonomous driving capability, featuring Pilot Assist which can give steering assistance from stationary up to 139 km/h.

Ok I hear you, it’s a Volvo. It’s safe. But what’s it like to live with?

The Volvo S60 T8 doesn’t just shadow its rivals on paper, it feels more special than the BMW 330i M Sport or the Mercedes-Benz C300 AMG Line in the metal. The well-appointed cabin, ergonomics, and calibration of controls are some of the best examples in its class.

Interior materials are pleasant to touch and the seats are, without a doubt, the most comfortable ones in class. It just supports your body in all the right places, without any pressure points.

There’s the 600-watt 14-speaker Harman Kardon sound system. Granted, it doesn’t quite possess the airiness and imaging of the Bowers & Wilkins system, but it’s still superior to rivals, even the Mercedes-Benz C300’s Burmester system.

Driving position is also excellent. The steering wheel and pedals are centered, and the footwell is spacious, unlike the C-Class or even the 3 Series with their protruding transmission tunnel. As a result, the Volvo S60 T8 is the most comfortable place to be in for long distance journeys.

The controls are also pleasantly calibrated. Steering is light and effortless to manoeuvre around town. It’s not razor sharp like the 3 Series nor is it quick to react like the C-Class, but it’s linear, which is ultimately more important in daily situations.

Same goes for the throttle response, it reacts intuitively and progressively to your right foot. Brakes are decently progressive for a hybrid, but it still can’t match the natural feel of non-regenerative brakes.

Sounds very pleasant indeed. Anything that’s not-so-nice though?

Well, if you look at the massive centre tunnel, you might think there are huge storage spaces but no, the best you can fit is a couple of smartphones. This is due to the location of the hybrid battery, as Volvo believes it’s the safest placement for high voltage batteries.

That's as deep as the storage compartment goes

As mentioned earlier, one of the differences of the CKD model compared to the CBU is the omission of rear-folding seats. It may not be a feature one uses daily, but it’s practical to have should the occasion calls for it.

No folding seats, the 12V socket along with the netting have been removed as well.

That doesn’t sound too bad, I guess. I’m more worried about the hybrid battery though.

Volvo Cars Malaysia offers an 8-year/160,000 km warranty on the hybrid battery. And have you heard any horror stories about Volvo hybrids?

Very persuasive. But its badge isn’t. Not as persuasive as a three-pointed star, at least.

The Volvo S60 T8 is understated and yet, it’s hilariously quick in a straight line. Ride comfort is perhaps the best in its class, considering the inherently stiff G20 BMW 3 Series and that the Mercedes-Benz C300 now gets passive suspension.

It ticks all the right boxes of a luxury car, maybe except for one – a commanding badge that shouts, “I’ve succeeded.”

But hey, if you’ve been reading up until this point, it might just be possible to convince you from the usual compact execs like the BMW 3 Series and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. We do hope so, because the Volvo S60 T8 deserves more attention than it’s getting.

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