Strengths and weaknesses:
- excellent power and torque
- superb all road capability
- limited rear seat legroom
- costly sticker price
Volvo S60 has safety in number
"If you plan on setting the road on fire, this is not your ride."
My understanding of Sweden generally centers on two basic preconceptions. First, the worldwide recognition of the country stems from the solid business model of assembling minimalist-style furniture with limited instructions and a small Allen Key. Second, to drive a Swedish vehicle is to get behind the wheel of a safe, but potentially lacklustre conveyance.
Opening the driver’s door of the 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD, boring flies out the window the moment I take a seat and settle in behind the wheel. The interior is absolutely gorgeous, with metal and wood accents attractively styled in an understated way reflecting the best of Swedish design.
Arriving in Stockholm, after an hour’s drive from the airport, I am completely enthralled by the elegant architecture of the city, both new and old. Surrounded by water, the downtown core is filled with smiling, happy, well-dressed and anything but boring people, most seemingly younger than 30 years old. By comparison, I am the one who is old and looking somewhat predictable.
Red is not the colour of your average Volvo. But that doesn’t seem to matter as it mixes perfectly with the vibrant colours and style I see everywhere. This is a city on the cusp of what’s new, while at the same time being completely comfortable in its own, 800-year old skin. No wonder the youth of the world come here to see the latest design trends, in more than just furniture and safe automobiles.
The 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD features a 3.0-litre six-cylinder turbocharged engine. Performance numbers indicate 300 horsepower at 5,600 rpm and 325 lb.-ft. of torque at 2,100-4,200 rpm. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes only 6.1 seconds.
Solid numbers, for sure, and the surge of power is certain to put a smile on your face. But in real-world driving, I find the best characteristic of the S60 T6 AWD lies in how easily it massages the pavement to comply with my every request through the use of an electronically controlled all-wheel-drive system.
Brakes are four-wheel disc with ventilated rear, ABS, EBA, HBA and RAB (Ready Alert Brakes). Stops are quick and hassle-free. Electro-hydraulic, speed-sensitive rack-and-pinion steering is light around town, tightening progressively as speed increases.
Stockholm is a city of diverse road surfaces; perfectly smooth pavement turns to cobblestone with the mere flick of a steering wheel. One moment you’re speeding down a three-lane highway, the next you’re wending through tight alleyways, over bridges, down tunnels or parked in gravel and sand next to a tall ship.
Opened on September 1, 2003, the elegant 99-room Rival Hotel is a “dream come true” for Swedish music composer turned entrepreneur Goran Bror “Benny” Andersson. You will recognize him mostly for his work as part of the Swedish mega music group ABBA.
Originally opened as a cinema in 1937, painstaking reconstruction crafted the seven storey structure to allow for seamless flow between bars, bistro, entrance hall and the main lounge. Filled to capacity on a nightly basis with the hip and elite of Stockholm, The Rival Hotel is as much an entertainment destination today as it was nearly eight decades ago.
My 4th floor deluxe room with balcony faces tree-filled Maria Square. Light fills the space as I pull back the shades and sunshine explodes through the floor to ceiling window. Emerald green curtains add a sense of elegance to the whimsical design theme. Over-stuffed pillows and a simple white comforter dominate the queen-size bed. In the corner chair, a teddy bear adds to the sense of rest and relaxation.
Dining takes place in the Swedish Bistro, the setting for a spectacular buffet breakfast, lunch or dinner. Right next door, caffeine and croissants flow freely at Café Rival. Tables are scarce throughout the day as customers share their stories in the tight, friendly confines of this excellent coffee bar.
Leaving the hotel for an afternoon drive, I exit the cobblestone street towards Hornsgatan and cross over the bridge arriving a few minutes later in the city center. The drive to Volvo’s homeland of Gothenburg, Sweden is a little over five hours, too far on this day. But I start the journey intent on seeing the countryside responsible for the enduring stature of a car brand synonymous for it longevity.
Swedes are renowned for building fine furniture, while convincing the rest of the world they are an essential part of the process. And, they also know how to build superb automobiles that, like the country itself, know how to stand the test of time.
Where to Stay
The Rival Hotel