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Volvo’s S60 Recharge


To channel the Virginia Slims marketing team just this (I promise) once, regarding Volvo’s S60 and its Recharge plug-in platform: You’ve come a long way, Baby! 

The origins of the S60 date back to the 2000 launch of the first iteration, replacing at the time Volvo’s 3-box S70. The S60, with a team led by noted designer Peter Horbury, substituted Volvo’s traditional angularity with something more fluid and organic. Visually, the result was a hit, although Volvo traditionalists took issue with the design departure, while real adults took issue with the rear seat’s compromised space. And while taking a short stint selling Volvos at the time, I took issue with what essentially represented itself as a sport sedan with little of the ‘sport’ associated with its handling or performance, unless opting for higher-spec (carrying higher prices) ‘R’ models, introduced in 2004.

Fast-forward 20+ years and in its Recharge spec Volvo has fashioned a plug-in hybrid sedan boasting a 0-60 (according to Car and Driver) of just over 4 seconds, in combination with 40+ miles of all-electric driving. This duality is accomplished with a turbocharged 2.0 liter four under the hood, in combination with a rear-mounted motor – hooked to a 14.9-kWh battery pack – powering the rear wheels with 143 horsepower and 228 lb-ft of torque. It’s all fairly wondrous, meeting the needs – on just one outing – of both our planet and your planted foot.

Although the sheetmetal has evolved over its two decades of gestation, if you knew and liked the 2000 S60 you’ll learn to know – and get to like – its 2023 variant. Proportionally the S60 is, well…proportional. Its front-wheel drive packaging is obvious if compared to BMW’s 3 Series or a Mercedes C-Class (which sit further back on their respective chassis), but both its front fascia and rear overhang are well tucked in, while the windshield and backlight both employ a fairly aggressive rake. This isn’t Volvo’s XC60, so getting in is most definitely a step down, while getting out requires a suppleness of body that suggests a Pilates regimen long before you retire the monthlies. 

Once inside, I was pleased by the supportive buckets, and not completely frazzled by the infotainment screen – while wishing the whole thing was a tad more intuitive. In back, two adults will be fine, while any middle passenger will be filing suit (in small claims court?); the tunnel is intrusive, and there really isn’t enough shoulder width here for, uh…shoulders. But heated seats are a win, as are ventilation outlets mounted in the S60’s B-pillars.

Behind the wheel, this is a Volvo with verve. If relying only on the turbo’d 312 horsepower the S60 would be quick. With the ‘e’ motion adding 143 horses and an additional 228 lb-ft of torque, its responsiveness is – you’ve already guessed – absolutely electric. As noted in C/D’s testing, 0-60 arrives in just a tick over 4 seconds, while 100 can be reached on this side of ten seconds. It’s all a bit of a rush, and while the Volvo’s handling won’t match that of BMW’s M3 (or Audi’s S3), all controls impress as direct and connected. And if you wanted to do track days you’d probably shop something other than a Volvo showroom.

The bonus for any plug-in owner, of course, is the ability to plug in and, in a normal week of commuting, never (ever!) buy gas. In my testing on a full charge with 41 miles of indicated range, around town errands at between 35 and 50 provided 38+ miles of all-electric driving, suggesting that Volvo’s algorithmic estimate was accurate. 

For an investment of between $55,000 and roughly $65K Volvo’s S60 Recharge is, in a word, spot-on. In its electric mode it is more than a little like a Tesla, and when driven in anger (closed course, professional driver) it’s convincingly testicular.  

Think of it as an automotive mashup between environmental activist Greta Thunberg and judicial activist Stormy Daniels. Then take it for a short commute, followed by a long weekend drive. Because you can.

Boldt, a contributor to outlets such as, Kelley Blue Book and Autoblog, brings to his laptop some forty years of experience in automotive retail, journalism and public relations. He is a member of the Texas Auto Writers Association, The Washington Automotive Press Association and L.A.'s Motor Press Guild. David is the Managing Editor of txGarage, a regular panelist on the AutoNetwork Reports webcast/podcast, and the automotive contributor to Dallas' Katy Trail Weekly.

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