“Mamma Mia!” 2012 Volvo S60 R Design

2012 Volvo S60

The Italian phrase for “My Goodness” comes to mind as I test the Volvo S60 this past week.  It was a Passion Red all wheel drive four door sedan dressed out in the “R Design” configuration, fully loaded.  R Design refers to the special front styling, blue watch dial instrument cluster, increased horsepower, tuned suspension, special wheels, dual tailpipes, and trunk tail fin.  The 3 liter, 325 horsepower six makes this car the most powerful production Volvo ever, and is an in-line model setting crosswise under the hood of the car, providing a measure of frontal collision safety.  It’s turbocharged and provides 354 lb./ft. of torque with a redline of 7,000 rpms.  Coupled with a six speed automatic transmission, the zero to sixty and top speed numbers are reportedly 5.3 seconds and 134 governor limited miles per hour.  Fuel (premium) numbers are 18/26, and I have noted a readout of 22.7 mpg.  The car rides on 18” IXION alloy wheels fitted with 235/40ZR18 Continental Extreme Contact radials.

The M.S.R.P of the little Volvo was $46,875.00, including freight.  Also included was a Multimedia package ($2,700), and Climate package ($800), the two of which provided premium sound, rear park assist camera, navigation system, heated seats/headlight washers/windshield washer nozzles, and an upgraded interior air quality setup.  The R Design elements (see above) were included in the base price of $42,500.00.  Inside the car were Offblack leather buckets with double stitching, yummy aluminum inlayed trimwork all over, leather steering wheel with more aluminum, power moon roof, and sporty shift knob and pedals.  All the appointments that are to be expected in a loaded sedan are there including a console/stack with buttons I’m still, as of this writing, getting familiar with.  I’ll describe two: one to flop the rear headrests down for rear visibility in reverse, and another to activate the rear camera and peek at the plates on that vehicle that’s been tailgating you.

I referred to the Volvo as “little” because it’s only a bit over fifteen feet long.  It will fit in the garage and you can have a washer/dryer against the wall ahead of it.  Wheelbase is the same as a Toyota Camry, however, and the car weighs 3,863 lbs.  The engine positioning is the reason for the stubbiness.  I don’t care if they installed it upside-down in there, though, because this car flies!  And it’s an extremely smooth delivery of the power (quiet, too).  I took off for Wellington in the Volvo and found the ride to be firm, but compliant.  Steering is very light and responsive, as well.  If driving in the dark on winding roads, the Active Bending Xenon dual headlights do an excellent job of lighting the road ahead.  I actually don’t know how that all works – maybe chipmunks looking through the grill with a little control stick in their hands.  But I liked it.  My trip up north didn’t take very long, but long were the looks of people on the road admiring the Volvo with its gleaming red finish and somewhat jaunty, rakish styling.

I say, Mamma Mia, what a car!  Ironically, a musical by that name is coming to Greeley next month.  The play features music by the group ABBA, a bunch of Swedes that happen to have produced a great product.  Like Volvo.

“Little Deuce Coupe” 2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR

Altima 3.5 SR

The 1963 Beach Boys hit was the b-side single opposite “Surfer Girl”, and was about a b-car, the 1932 Ford model B.  “Deuce” in the song title was a result of the last digit in that model year, and the Nissan I drove last week was another “deuce coupe”, the 2012 Nissan Altima 3.5 SR 2 door.  A lot of things have changed in eighty years, and as an example, “pink slip” in the lyrics of that song meant the title to the souped up Ford.  In today’s jobless recovery a “pink slip” would refer to the termination notice that might be found in one’s pay envelope.  “Little Deuce Coupe”, “409”, “Shut Down”, “This Car of Mine”, and “Fun, Fun, Fun” were examples of Beach Boy car hits of the 60’s, and like my kids, I loved them all.

I grew rather fond of the Altima in our time spent together, as well.  The Ford back then cost $490.00, so in inflation adjusted dollars, the Altima may be a little pricey ($32,165.00), but then again it’s pretty loaded with equipment not even dreamed of in 1932.  The M.S.R.P. included a base of $30,700, floor and trunk mats, and a rear spoiler.  The SR is the top line Altima with bolstered charcoal leather seating, dual-zone automatic climate control, heated front seats, Bose stereo, USB port, XM satellite radio, Bluetooth wireless cell phone link, rearview camera, auto-dimming rearview mirror, compass, moonroof, universal garage door opener, and xenon headlights.  Also included is, of course, power windows and locks, tilt/telescope steering column, a smallish leather wrapped steering wheel with lots of controls on it, pushbutton starting, real “hand” brake, keyless entry, and an excellent cruise control.  Back seat room is designed for three people, but by the looks of it back there, I think the less entrants the better.  It is, after all, a coupe.

Under the hood is a DOHC, 24 valve, 270 horsepower V6 with 258 lbs. ft. of torque.  It provides plenty of snap through a close ratio 6 speed manual transmission (a coupe exclusive) and front-wheel-drive configuration.  It’s fun to drive and provides fuel economy ratings of 18/city and 27/highway (my observance – 21.1).  I set sail for Cherry Creek mall in the “Red Alert” Altima and noticed a lot of attention being paid to me at stoplights in LaSalle, Platteville, and Brighton.  The styling of the car includes a re-designed chrome grill and foglights up front with a Maxima look, 18” ten spoke alloy wheels, and dual tip exhausts at the rear.  Ride is compliant, but firm, and as mentioned earlier, acceleration is fine (reportedly zero to sixty in 5.5 seconds).

The main competition for the Altima is the Honda Accord coupe with similar size, horsepower, and dimensions.  As I understand it, the Altima comes out on top relative to sportiness and handling.  I would certainly rate it as a top pick in this particular category.