Just one look at the initial design sketches was enough for the chassis experts to understand that the challenge was going to be exceptional.
What they saw was the embryo of a sporting sedan unlike any previous Volvo. Now it was up to them to produce a chassis that did the daring design full justice.
The result is the all-new Volvo S60 - without a doubt the most dynamic car model Volvo has ever presented.
"This was never going to be a conventional engineering project, not for a single second. It's always been about pure passion for the task of driving Volvo's chassis development expertise to its very pinnacle. We've crossed into territory where we've never been before," says Paul Welander, Senior Vice President Product Development at Volvo Cars.
When asked to summarise the results, Paul says without a moment's hesitation:
"Words cannot do the driving properties justice. You simply have to drive the car to understand what it's about. Preferably on a narrow winding country road where every sweeping bend brings a new challenge. That's where the all-new S60 comes into its own and shows off its agility with sparkling enthusiasm."
The journey to these heights of driving dynamics has been tough and exciting, filled with challenges and new solutions. The chassis team chose early on to translate the brief from Volvo Cars' top management into a prototype that served as a test-bench for trying out various technical solutions.
"Now that we had the chance to take daring initiatives, we seized the opportunity with both hands. For instance, we have matched our technical solutions with the very best competitors to verify that we have truly made it to the very top," says Paul Welander.
Dynamic chassis standard in Europe
The all-new Volvo S60 is 463 cm long, with a wheelbase of 278 cm. The track is 159 cm both front and rear.
The sedan can be specified with a choice of two chassis. On the European market the newly developed dynamic chassis is standard, while most markets in North America and Asia will have the comfort chassis as standard with the sport variant available as an option.
The difference between the two chassis alternatives is to be found in the dampers and the front and rear subframes. Here the comfort variant has a somewhat softer setting to give a smoother ride on poorer road surfaces.
"The spotlight was on giving the concept of comfort a whole new dimension. The dynamic chassis has an alert, quick-responding architecture that puts the focus on the driving experience, yet without diluting the impression of a comfortable ride," explains Stefan Sällqvist.
Faster steering, thicker spring struts and stiffer bushes
During the development process, the chassis team carved out a holistic solution that features changes and refinements for virtually every single detail that influences a car's driving properties.
The steering gear ratio has been made 10 percent faster than in previous models to give enhanced steering feel and sharper response. The steering column's thicker tubing and stiffer bushes increased torsional rigidity by 100 percent. This also contributes to the increased feeling of direct contact with the wheels and the road.
"Really good steering is intuitive, the car appears to sense your driving intentions even while they are just thoughts in your mind. In this area I feel we have taken a huge step forward," says Stefan Sällqvist.
The front spring struts have thicker piston rods compared with the sports chassis in the Volvo S80. The 47 percent increase of stiffness means that the structure is better able to take up lateral loads. The springs themselves are shorter and stiffer than before. The Eigen frequency has increased by 10 percent.
The bushes are generally stiffer than in Volvo's current sports chassis. At the front spring strut mountings, stiffness has increased by 50 percent. The subframe bushes front and rear are up to twice as stiff compared with previous models. The link arm bushings have also been optimised for sporty driving with full control.
More damping than ever before
The dampers offer more damping than in any previous Volvo model. The damper mountings at the rear are made of PUR (polyurethane) instead of rubber, a solution that provides better balance between comfort and dynamic control.
"We spent many weeks fine-tuning the dampers out in the English countryside. We drove on old Roman roads that have only ever received a few layers of tarmac over the centuries. A perfect environment for finding the right damping qualities - well controlled roll and bounce movements," says Paul Welander.
FOUR-C as an option
The software in the AWD (All Wheel Drive) system has been modified to allow the four-wheel drive variants (four-wheel drive is standard in the T6 and optional with the D5) of the all-new Volvo S60 to exploit the sporty new chassis to the limit.
All variants of the new S60 can be specified with the FOUR-C active chassis. The FOUR-C active chassis has been modified and refined for better control and comfort feel compared to previous Volvos. This is an advanced, self-adjusting chassis system that uses a number of sensors to continuously monitor the car's behaviour. In mere fractions of a second, the dampers are adjusted to suit the current driving situation.
With three alternative chassis settings, all it takes is for the driver to press a button to alter the car's character: Comfort, Sport or Advanced.
The first sedan with Advanced Stability Control
"We have the world's most advanced system for brake regulation. The Dynamic Stability and Traction Control in the all-new S60 has several sophisticated features that offer a unique blend of improved driving pleasure and safety," says Paul Welander.
New Corner Traction Control for smoother curves
The dynamic new chassis in the all-new Volvo S60 is backed up by a range of electronic systems that sharpen the sporty driving experience still further.
Corner Traction Control is a new feature that uses torque vectoring so the car takes curves even more smoothly. This technology is a further refinement of the Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC).
When taking a curve, the car's inner driven wheel is braked at the same time as more power is transmitted to the outer driven wheel. This allows the driver to take the curve more tightly while reducing any tendency to understeer.
"You can accelerate out of the curve while retaining your grip on the road. This system makes it easier to smoothly maintain your desired line on winding roads, in roundabouts and on wet surfaces. Corner Traction Control is a huge asset when you want to swing out from a small side road to merge with a highway and need to accelerate swiftly to join in with the flow of traffic," says Paul Welander.
Advanced, integrated braking functions
A highly advanced braking system is an important part of the dynamic driving properties of the all-new S60.
The sedan is equipped with a number of features that interact to provide the shortest possible stopping distance in all scenarios.
Broad range of engines, led by an even more powerful T6 version
During its first year of production, the all-new Volvo S60 will be available with a variety of diesel and petrol engines spanning the range from an economical 115 horsepower DRIVe version to an eager high-performance turbocharged version producing 304 horsepower. All the engines have been developed to meet the highest demands on sporty, dynamic driving with competitive fuel consumption.
The firm action to cut CO-emissions has resulted in lowered fuel consumption throughout the engine programme.
The T6 petrol engine has a displacement of 3.0 litres and has been improved still further, primarily thanks to lower internal friction. It now pumps out 304 hp and no less than 440 Nm of torque.
Maximum torque is achieved between 2100 - 4200 rpm. This promotes fast acceleration and smooth progress on the road.
At the same time, Volvo Cars' engine specialists have succeeded in cutting fuel consumption by about 10 percent to 9,9 l/100 km (EU Combined, preliminary figure).
The engine's power is delivered to the wheels via Volvo's second-generation six-speed automatic Geartronic transmission. New valves and lower friction mean faster gearchanges than before. AWD (All Wheel Drive) is standard on the T6.
New direct-injected two-litre engine
The new four-cylinder 2.0T GTDi (Gasoline Turbocharged Direct Injection) engine has a displacement of two litres and produces a generous 203 hp, with 300 Nm of torque available from 1750 rpm.
New in-house-developed turbocharged technology, direct injection and twin variable camshafts produce a unique combination of low fuel consumption, low emissions and a high and broad performance range, all packaged in a very compact format. The Volvo S60 2.0 GTDi uses just 7.9 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres (EU Combined, preliminary figure).
"We've succeeded in making a four-cylinder engine that matches a five-cylinder unit - and it is more energy-efficient than the larger engine. This is a good move both for the environment and for those customers who want high performance and good driveability. Our patented new turbo system is tailor-made for smaller, more energy-efficient engines," says Tomas Ahlborg, Project Director for the all-new Volvo S60.
The turbocharger is the market's smallest in relation to the engine's maximum power output. The turbo not only offers excellent performance, it also improves aftertreatment of the exhaust gases.
Another new feature is that the exhaust manifold and turbo are made of sheet steel rather than a heavier casting. Steel is lighter, easier to form and, above all, the system has lower heat radiation owing to the layer of extra insulation. This permits high temperature in the gas flow and thus more efficient combustion without noticeably raising the engine compartment temperature.
A manifold made of sheet steel is admittedly nothing particularly new but thus far it has only been used in combination with a cast turbo housing. The new fully integrated turbo system of sheet steel is a world innovation and has been patented by Volvo.
Later during the first year of production, the all-new S60 will also become available as a 2.0 GTDi variant producing 240 hp and torque of 320 Nm. Furthermore, there will be a 1.6-litre GTDi engine available in two versions: 180 hp and 150 hp with torque of 240 Nm.
All the GTDi engines will be available in combination with Volvo's automatic six-speed Powershift transmission or a six-speed manual gearbox. Powershift works in principle like two parallel manual gearboxes with separate clutches, giving lightning-quick and fuel-saving gearchanges.
Two five-cylinder turbo diesels
The engine range also includes two five-cylinder turbodiesels.
The D5 high-performance engine with twin turbos produces 205 horsepower and 420 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 7.8 seconds (manual and automatic). Top speed is 235 km/h (manual) and 230 km/h (automatic).
In the most recent D5 version, which was introduced in spring 2009, the performance and driveability requirements have been met by fitting two turbochargers of different sizes, one taking over from the other and providing added power within a broader rev range. The result is alert response and rapid acceleration at all speeds, with seamless transfers in the turbo rev range between the two turbochargers.
The complementary properties of the two turbos are utilised optimally for a combination of high performance and low fuel consumption of 5.3 l/100 km (EU Combined, preliminary figure) putting this engine in the running for best in class.
Advanced fuel injection technology using piezoelectric fuel valves gives exact distribution of fuel in the combustion chamber, with efficient combustion and low emissions as a result.
Smaller displacement lowers fuel consumption
In addition there is the newly developed two-litre D3 producing 163 hp and 400 Nm of torque. Acceleration from 0-100 km/h takes 9.2 seconds (manual and automatic). Top speed is 220 km/h (manual) and 215 km/h (automatic).
The new five-cylinder 2.0D is in principle the same engine as the present 2.4D, but cylinder capacity has been reduced with a shorter stroke to optimise fuel consumption. With a manual gearbox fuel consumption (EU Combined, preliminary figure) is now down to 5.3 l/100 km (139 g CO2/km).
The engine has been optimised with a view to low fuel consumption and the injection system has a different type of piezoelectrical fuel valve compared with the D5 engine. These valves keep fuel consumption to a minimum thanks to exceptionally fast and precise injection pulses under high pressure. This results in far more efficient combustion.
In order to give the car better driving properties, the turbocharger has been fine-tuned for high torque from low revs.
A maintenance-free particulate filter that traps about 95 percent of the soot particles is fitted as standard in both engines, making them particularly environmentally suitable alternatives.
Both turbodiesels are available with six-speed automatic transmissions or a six-speed manual gearbox.
The D5 can also be specified with all-wheel drive.
DRIVe diesel below 115 g/km
During the course of the first year of production, a DRIVe version of the all-new S60 will also be introduced, featuring a 1.6-litre diesel engine. Fuel consumption is a meagre 4.3 l/100 km (EU Combined, preliminary figure), corresponding to CO2 emissions below 115 g/km. The engine produces 115 hp and 270 Nm of torque, and will only be available with a six-speed manual gearbox.
Matches the visual promise
The sporty design of the Volvo S60 functions not only as creative incentive for Volvo Cars' chassis experts - the daring lines also give customers a visual promise that the driving properties are going to be something truly exceptional.
"We know that buyers in this tough segment have really high expectations regarding the driving experience. I am convinced they will be very satisfied indeed by what we've done with the chassis and engine," says Tomas Ahlborg.
4 cyl in-line
1.6 D DRIVe