Volvo S60 T5 R-Design Review
Swede Caroline Pah Pah Paaah!

khim yap
23 Oct 2019

The S60 T5 is a delightful car to drive. Its 250bhp of power and 350Nm of torque provide plenty of oomph for our usual local driving conditions.

Have you heard about this Swede from the US? No, we’re not talking about LA Galaxy star Zlatan Ibrahimović. It's the All-New Volvo S60 that's built in America. It is the first Volvo to be made in the USA at their brand new manufacturing plant in Charleston, South Carolina. 

Volvo’s new S60 sports sedan comes in two variants – the T5 and the T4 – both of which have 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engines, but with different levels of trim and performance. 

We reviewed the Volvo S60 T4 R-Design in Sept 2019 and our Editor, Clifford Chow, described the S60 T4 as “an attractive buy” for those that are “looking for something which is non-German.” 

The T4 and T5 are like two brothers — the T4 is a well-mannered executive while the T5 is the sporty and athletic sibling that spends a lot of time working out. The T5’s engine delivers a powerful 250bhp and 350Nm of torque while the T4 puts out 187bhp and 300Nm of torque. And that’s why the T5 also completes the 0 to 100km/h sprint faster — 6.4secs versus the T4’s 7.1secs. Top speed on the T5 is also slightly better, clocking in at 240km/h versus the T4’s 220km/h.

The T5 only comes in the sportier R-Design trim while the T4 has an additional Momentum trim option that works well for those that prefer something more refined and executive-looking. The R-Design trim replaces the waterfall grille on the Momentum trim option with a glossy black grille that gives the car a more aggressive look — especially next to those signature T-shaped “Thor’s Hammer” LED headlights. 

Volvo has always been known for its high standards with safety — it is after all the car manufacturer that first introduced to the world the three-point safety belt in 1959 — and the S60 continues to exemplify this standard in safety.

The car boasts the extensive use of boron steel, and comes with several safety features like City Safety — a collision avoidance system that is able to detect pedestrians, cyclists and large animals. When it senses danger, the car engages auto braking to prevent a collision, and it can even detect vehicles that are heading towards you on the opposite side of the road! 

The car also comes with Pilot Assist, an intelligent adaptive cruise control system that is able to help the driver steer, accelerate and brake on well-marked roads up to speeds of 130km/h! The upgraded system has improved cornering performance, and it no longer needs to follow another car.


Inside the car, everything has that premium 'Conti' feel. Seats are comfortable and well bolstered. There's a quality feel to all touchpoints, and the gear shift lever has a reassuring sturdiness about it.  Both the Drive Mode selector and the Start/Stop knob come finished as shiny knurled knobs. However, I'm not a fan of the design of the Start/Stop knob on the S60. To start or stop the engine, you turn the Start/Stop knob clockwise. There's nothing wrong with it, just feels somewhat strange. I much prefer the simplicity of a Start/Stop button.   

You get plenty of screen in the S60. There's a 12.3" adaptive driver display, and a 9" iPad-style infotainment touch screen that's powered by Sensus, Volvo's connectivity and infotainment system. Sound quality is good overall and above average. There's a Spotify app, but it needs data from a paired smartphone to be able to work. Apple CarPlay and Android Auto comes standard, but it's a pity that the car doesn't come with a wireless charging tray — a feature that can be found in quite a few new cars these days and one that you'd certainly expect to find in a premium 'Conti'.  

There's plenty of legroom in the new Volvo S60, and Volvo says it is the most spacious sedan in its class. Its large panoramic glass roof fills the cabin with lots of light, and this makes it feel even more roomy. You get 392 litres of cargo carrying space, which is 12 litres more than the previous model. Cooling at the back is good with the rear aircon vents positioned on the B-pillar instead of the centre console. In general, I feel this is a better and more effective position for AC vents as it is at chest level, rather than being down low.

However, a significant negative of the S60 is that the rear seats cannot be folded down. Another negative is that the boot is missing a close button that will automatically shut the boot for you. Instead, you need to close the boot yourself manually. There's a lock button on the boot, but this only serves to lock the boot after you've manually closed it yourself.

The Drive

The S60 T5 is a delightful car to drive. Its 250bhp of power and 350Nm of torque provide plenty of oomph for our usual local driving conditions. One key advantage that the T5 has over the T4 is that it has All-Wheel Drive while the T4 is Front-Wheel Drive. As such, the T5 handles well, especially in wet weather. 

The engine is paired to an 8-speed automatic gearbox, but this gearbox is not as refined as what you'd expect, and I felt that the gear changes could be a little smoother.  

There are four Drive modes available (Comfort, Dynamic, Eco and Individual), but another let down of the S60 is that it doesn't come with a stand alone button to turn off the fuel-saving engine stop-start system. Instead, you will need hunt for the virtual "shutoff" button on the infotainment screen. Some drivers (like me) find engine stop-start systems annoying, and would much prefer to have the option of easily turning it off.  

Our Thoughts

Overall, there's a lot going for the Volvo S60 T5. In terms of engine capacity, power and torque, it is comparable to the BMW 3 Series 330i M Sport, but it costs about $40,000 less. Sure, it isn't as fast, and it doesn't the kind of tech features that the BMW 330i has, but in the end, you'll still get a quality 'Conti' car for a good $40k less. And you'll still get to enjoy the prestige of driving a car with a classy and well-regarded European badge.  

It has a few drawbacks, but there's no denying that it is an excellent car to drive, and it offers plenty in terms of safety. The T5 R-Design costs $10,000 more ($199,000 versus $189,000) than the T4 R-Design, and I would definitely recommend ponying up the additional $10k to get the T5 R-Design. The T5 R-Design is faster, handles better and offers much more power than the T4. And despite being heavier (kerb weight of 1,737kg versus 1,605kg), official fuel consumption numbers from Volvo for the T5 show that it is only marginally higher than the T4. The T5's fuel economy is rated at 7.3 litres/100 km (13.7 kms/litre) while the T4 consumption is at 7.2 litres/100 km (13.89 kms/litre). 

*All information accurate as at 22 Oct 2019

In Summary

We Like

Powerful engine, excellent handling, customisable car settings, above-par sound system.

We Don't

Lack of auto boot close button, gearbox could be smoother, and rear seats can’t fold down. 


The attractiveness of the S60 T5 R-Design is that it offers excellent power, handling, comfort, safety features, and brand prestige, and yet, it is very competitively priced compared to other European marques.

Car Loan Calculator - Volvo S60 T5 R-Design (A)

SGD 200,000 (9 Jul 2020)

Based on OMV, this car is eligible for minimum 40% down payment

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Engine Capacity 1969cc Turbocharged
Engine Type Inline 4
Power 250bhp @ 5500rpm
Torque 350Nm @ 1500rpm
Power to Weight 143.9 bhp per ton


Acceleration 6.4s (0-100 km/h)
Top Speed 240 km/h
Fuel Consumption (combined) 13.7 km/L

Misc Technical Data

Transmission 8 -speed Auto
Drive Type F4
Steering Electric


Body Type Sedan
(L x W x H)
(4761 x 1850 x 1431) mm
Wheelbase 2872 mm
Turning Circle 11.7 metres
Kerb Weight 1737 kg
Boot Capacity 392 L
Fuel Tank Capacity 60 L


Brakes (Front) Ventilated Discs
Brakes (Rear) Discs