2011 Volvo S60 hands-on demonstration w/video

2011 Volvo S60 T5 in action – click above for high-res image gallery

An impact with an automobile will crack a human's bones like lobster claws at a clambake; an outcome Volvo aims to fight with technology. Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake, a system that uses radar and cameras to stop the car and avert mauling pedestrians, makes its debut on the 2011 Volvo S60. While a visit to the recent Wellesley, Massachusetts stop of the Naughty Volvo Tour at Lee Imported Cars didn't net us any wheel time, we got our first chance to get hands-on with the new S60 outside of a convention hall.

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Photos by Dan Roth / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

Volvo is introducing the 2011 S60 to consumers with the Naughty Volvo Tour, and we crashed the party to spend some time pawing the company's newest mid-size sedan. The S60 is thoroughly redone inside and out. The exterior is at once familial and more bold. In the cabin, materials are high quality, with typically comfortable Volvo seats that may not be as aggressively bolstered as the "sport seat" moniker would suggest. The S60s interior design follows Volvo's clean, contemporary themes, updated with more features and options to stay competitive. A variety of modern exterior and interior colors further dispel the eons-old stereotype of bland, earth-toned Volvos.

The "naughty" part of the S60 refers to its sharp styling and driving dynamics that Volvo says are on par with BMW and Mercedes. There was no opportunity to get behind the wheel to verify the latter, but we did get a ride-along demonstration of the Pedestrian Detection feature. Integral to the promotional tour, Volvo is showing off this system as reminder that the company hasn't abandoned safety as its classical stock in trade.

Pedestrian Detection with full Auto-Brake is a lot like the Volvo City Safety system that bowed on the XC60. The end result of both technologies is that the car stops before impacting an object, as our test of City Safety demonstrated. Pedestrians present a much smaller profile than a vehicle, however, so Pedestrian Detection uses both an advanced radar unit mounted in the grille and a camera in the windshield to find humans, versus City Safety's single optical radar. Like City Safety, the Pedestrian Detection system is designed to work at city speeds, and Volvo's aim is to reduce the 4,700 annual pedestrian deaths resulting from auto impacts in the United States. When Pedestrian Detection senses a collision with a person is imminent, it first sounds a warning tone and flashes an LED atop the dashboard to alert the driver. If the alarm goes unheeded, the car will apply its brakes at full power in time to come to a full stop. The demonstration worked as planned, without repeating any of the embarassing mishaps that occurred earlier this year.

Just as fellow Swedish brand Saab is launching the new 9-5 in the full-boat Aero trim, the tip of the S60 spear is the S60 T6, with a base MSRP of $37,700. The car follows the script that new Volvo models have used for generations: Innovate with safety and technology, evolve the styling, and do the family proud. While our time with the S60 was brief, it served to whet our appetite for an S60 to visit the Autoblog Garage, something that's set to happen in the coming months. Stay tuned...

Photos by Dan Roth / Copyright ©2010 Weblogs, Inc.

The video meant to be presented here is no longer available. Sorry for the inconvenience.


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