Lexus IS250 Sports 2014 Review
Lexus has launched the third generation of its IS sedan range and has gone way out in styling.
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When Volvo's second-generation S60 first arrived in 2011, it was billed as ‘the naughty Volvo’ due to its cheeky, yet still recognisably Volvo styling.
Now that it’s time for a mid-cycle refresh, the S60 sedan and the V60 wagon’s revised styling is more handsome than naughty, with a new ‘wolf-eyed’ front fascia and revised detailing throughout.
Both sedan and wagon model lineups and pricing has also been shuffled, with revised comfort and safety features. However, updated mechanicals will have to wait until the new Drive-E engines arrive in March next year.
Volvo has consolidated the S60 and V60 model lineup for 2014, reducing the number of variants from 20 to 13 to reflect buyer preferences.
The base grade for both sedan and wagon models now carries the name Kinetic, while the previous mid-spec Teknik grade has been renamed Luxury. The sporty R-Design flagship grade remains, with the T6 variants gaining Polestar badging.
Pricing is up slightly across all S60 models aside from R-Design grades, while the remaining V60 variants (aside from R-Design) drop by similar amounts to bring them closer to their sedan counterparts (See full pricing below).
Aside from the new wolf-eye headlights, wheels, redesigned bumpers with widened grille and reprofiled front sheetmetal and LED taillight elements and new exhaust outlets at the rear, the new models benefit from fresh upholstery colours, and metallic dash detailing.
All variants come standard with leather trim, rear parking sensors and camera, LED daytime running lights, auto wipers, auto dimming interior mirror, power driver’s seat, and a leather steering wheel.
An Adaptive Digital Display is also now standard across the range, which displays the driver’s instruments via an LCD screen, and offers distinct appearance modes of Elegance, Eco, and Performance.
Luxury models gain subtle detail enhancements and bigger 18 inch wheels, passenger power seat adjustment, satnav (a $2950 option for Kinetic), proximity keys (a $1575 option for Kinetic and R-Design), an alarm system with motion sensor, and active xenon headlamps.
All models gain new seats that add support without sacrificing comfort, which we found to be particularly true in the R-Design models. What looks to be heavily bolstered performance seats are actually topped with a cosseting layer of soft foam beneath the leather.
The rest of the R-Design interior continues this sports luxury ambience with contrasting stitching, machined aluminium and stainless steel detailing. Like the previous model, the R-Design variants also gain a more aggressive body treatment front and rear, with gloss black detailing and circular tailpipes. T6 R-Design models now come with paddle shifters as standard, which are also available on T5 and T4 variants for $250.
All S60 models come with a 60/40 split-folding rear seat which expands to 40/20/40 for V60 models. The V60 also features Volvo’s unique integrated booster seats that pop-up for children aged three and above. All models now come standard with a removable spacesaver spare wheel mounted above the boot floor. A flat boot floor to sit above the spare is now optional on S60 models, but Volvo is yet to finalise pricing.
Drivetrain specs are unchanged from the 2013 lineup, meaning T4 132kW/240Nm 1.6-litre and T5 177kW/320Nm 2.0-litre direct-injected turbo petrol fours, a D4 120kW/400Nm 2.0-litre turbodiesel, and the range-topping all-wheel drive T6 242kW/480Nm 3.0-litre straight-six petrol turbo.
The S60 sedan is available with all four drivetrain options, while the V60 wagon drops the T4 options from its range with the update.
The 2014 range remains automatic transmission-only and the T4 and T5 models continue with the six-speed dual-clutch unit, with the D4 and T6 engines continuing with the six-speed torque converter auto.
Combined fuel consumption ranges from 5.9L/100km for the D4 S60, to 7.4 for T4, 8.6 for T5, and 10.2 for T6, with the V60 equivalents using just 0.1L/100km more across each drivetrain. The S60 and V60 will benefit from Volvo’s new Drive-E range of petrol and diesel engines from March 2014, which promise more power and efficiency, along with the addition of a new eight-speed auto.
The previous S60 and V60 models both qualified for a full five star ANCAP-recognised Euro NCAP rating, which remains for the new models.
All models come with City Safety auto braking, but a ($5000) optional Driver Support Pack can be had on Luxury and R-Design models which adds blind-spot monitoring and cross-traffic alerts, lane departure warning and lane keeping Aid, active high beams, forward collision warning and road sign recognition technology.
Building on the standard features, the package also comes with active cruise, collision warning with full auto braking, front parking sensors to go with the standard rears, and auto-dimming side mirrors.
We drove all spec grades and drivelines bar the T5 on test, and the S60 and V60 remain a worthy contender in the premium mid-size segment. The interior upgrades have freshened what was already an impressive design, with an elegance unique to Volvo -- even in the base Kinetic models.
The clever exterior styling disguises their useful girth, and the back seat is roomy enough for most adults. All models – including the diesels – are nice and quiet on the open road, and the lesser T4 and D4 engines offer ample oomph for big-distance country touring.
As previously, the T6 R-Design steps this performance up several notches, but it maintains a level of comfort and decorum that you don’t expect from a model with a capital R in its name. All models have a taut, European ride that is never jarring, and even the sportier R-Design coped well with the rough roads on test – even on optional 19 inch wheels.
The 2014 Volvo S60 and V60 upgrades have freshened what was already a compelling and unique alternative to the Japanese and European premium mid-size offerings, but the Drive-E engines arriving in March promise to make the Volvo 60 models an even more compelling option. Don’t look past them in the meantime though, as the existing drivetrains are hardly past their use-by date.
|D3||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$13,100 – 18,920||2013 Volvo S60 2013 D3 Pricing and Specs|
|D3 Teknik||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$15,100 – 21,340||2013 Volvo S60 2013 D3 Teknik Pricing and Specs|
|D4||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$13,600 – 19,690||2013 Volvo S60 2013 D4 Pricing and Specs|
|D4 Kinetic||2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO||$15,400 – 21,670||2013 Volvo S60 2013 D4 Kinetic Pricing and Specs|