Volvo’s 2011 S60 Combines Safety and Style

If you compiled your list of the 10 sexiest cars of all time, chances are Volvo would not make the cut. Over the years, Volvo has built its reputation on safety, not sexy. With the launch of the 2011 S60, however, the Swedish automaker hopes to broaden consumers’ perceptions and revive the brand’s lackluster sales.

Volvo’s all-new S60 sedan debuted at the Geneva Motor Show last March. Features include all-wheel-drive, a 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-6 engine and 6-speed automatic transmission to deliver 300 bhp and 325 pounds feet of torque with peak torque available as low as 2,100 rpm. By placing the transmission in sport mode, the gearbox will delay shifting gears until the engine reaches a higher rpm, or the driver may manually select the gear. In either case, the increase in performance is noticeable.

Volvo engineers obviously focused a great deal of their attention on dampers and bushings in order to give the S60 cornering characteristics that would allow it to compete with the likes of the Acura TL, Audi A4, BMW 3 Series, Lexus IS and Mercedes C-Class. They also equipped it with features like computer-controlled torque-vectoring and driver three selectable suspension modes including Comfort, Sport and Advanced.

Volvo has not abandoned safety in its pursuit of style. To the contrary, the S60 features Volvo’s Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake safety system. An industry first, the system identifies the presence of pedestrians in the vehicle’s forward trajectory and automatically applies the brakes to bring the vehicle to a stop. The optional safety feature was designed for crowded city driving conditions and is effective at speeds up to 22 mph.

The S60’s improved performance matches its more stylish exterior. With its launch in 2000, the first generation S60 represented a dramatic departure from the automaker’s boxy designs of the 1980s and 90s. The 2011 model continues the trend, featuring a more aggressively backswept windshield, wide-set wheels and a shorter trunk overhang. The interior is equally stylish and features a new voice activated entertainment system with satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity, and steering wheel mounted controls.

The 2011 S60 will begin arriving in U.S. dealer showrooms in mid-September and will be priced from $37,700.

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