Today drove an Audi RS6 and a Volvo S60R. The RS6 is a totally amazing automobile (drawback that it’s an automatic but dear GOD trust me when I say it doesn’t matter, especially with the tiptronic paddles). This is a true supercar… and at $80k++ it ought to be.
The Volvo is very nice, but the S4 is superior in almost every way. There was a touch more headroom in the front of the Volvo, but the rear of each felt equally tight. Basically, with the front seat in my ideal driving position, there was precious little legroom in the back of either car. This is, for all intents and purposes, a very minor issue since no one is going to be back there 99.9% of the time, and I can move my seat forward and live with the pinch when there is. At least there are four doors.
The other “plus” for the Volvo was their CCCC system which was a bit more flexible for those who’d want a smoother ride at times. It also seems to improve handling a touch when cornering aggressively. As for pure feedback, frankly I prefer the road feedback of the S4 (except those rare times when you’re driving through hellish bumpy roads at 15 MPH) and did not see it as a major advantage. Further, the DSTC stability and traction control seemed a feature set that would be great for a less experienced driver, but it felt like some power was lost during those moments – perhaps because of the system’s “ability” to adjust power across the axles when cornering hard. Again, a great feature for the househusband who starts losing control in a corner while showing off for the babysitter, but not the best thing for a slightly more experienced driver who prefers more of a connection to the road.
While the Volvo clearly is a powerhouse, it felt more stressed than the S4’s wonderful V8. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but the S60R gave me the feeling that it was working much harder than the S4’s V8 to do the same thing. The Volvo’s throttle response also felt a bit slow.
Another thing I like about the Volvo – which you can’t quite say about the S4 – is that it’s very understated. One does not glance at it and think “race car” – but it is every bit a racer. While the S4 looks racier and more aggressive, I think it still retains a reasonably mature and subtle look. Except for the color I want it in. 😉
At the end of the day, the Volvo felt like a Volvo – all the way from its handling to its interior design. I prefer the interior styling of the S4 and you also are constantly reminded of its racing heritage. The Volvo felt more like a family car on crack (but, admittedly, a very nice one on some very nice crack).
The S60R is a great sports sedan but not the best match for me. The S4 has really impressed me and would be fun to drive in nearly every condition year-round.
I had been considering an E500 AWD, but the prices are high enough that it would have me thinking a used RS6 would make sense. So, those are on hold for now. I also have moved away from the 545i 6-speed due to my desire for AWD.
So, if I can find an S4 in the configuration I want (before the UGLY 2006’s start arriving) – that is very likely to be my next car.