There are plenty of interesting threads created by owners of some of the most desirable Volvos - Polestars, R-Designs, Rs - but my new car is a rare breed because of it's country of origin. The '16 S60 Inscription is the first serious automobile to be built in China and exported for sale in the US. I say "serious" because it's not positioned as a bargain model, it is instead positioned as the high lux version of the S60 midsize sedan.
This question of when/if Volvo would be exporting cars to the US from their Chinese operation and how they would be received has come up many times here and it's clear that there are some strongly held opinions, but to the best of my knowledge nobody has posted about their experience with a car they actually own. So I'll provide my own experiences in the hope that others will find it of interest and a valuable contribution to the community.
2016 S60 Inscription T5 AWD Platinum with Climate and BLIS, Osmium Grey with Soft Beige interior. This car has every option I could want, with the exception of the heated windshield which for some reason is not available on the Inscription. My previous S60 was a Premier Plus, pretty well equipped but this car puts it to shame.
Naturally it rained.
There are some pretty nice standard features that were not on my previous '13 S60, some of which are not available on any other version. I'm particularly fond of the upgraded Sensus which now includes a TuneIn app for internet radio stations (suck it Sirius), and the 18" Titania wheels. My parents, who we take on an annual summer trip to Cape Cod, will surely appreciate the larger back seat (+3" of legroom), heated rear seats, and sun shades on the back and side windows. I find the 2-tone interior design to be very attractive. My last car was also soft beige leather, and everything was beige except the upper dash and steering wheel. This car, while described as soft beige, has black carpets, dash, and door panels, with beige seats and door inserts. I expect it will be easier to keep clean and still provide most of the benefits of a light interior (open airy feeling. The Sport seats are standard, and include power lumbar control. The Modern wood trim is also very attractive, not shiny/plasticky like in other S60s I've seen.
My previous car was a '13 S60 T5 AWD Premier Plus with Climate. I loved it and had planned to buy it at the end of the lease, but, to make a long story short, the sales manager at my dealer called and told me I could get a new version for a bit less than I was currently paying, $1,000 or less due at signing.
I decided to give him a chance but wanted to get a Platinum trim car for the lower payment. After talking about V60 T5 AWD Platinum (unobtainable), V60 CC (too pricey), and the S60 CC that's been on the lot since last summer (still too pricey), he offered the Inscription, which could be had with all the equipment I cared about and more, for the price I wanted.
I was of course skeptical. I was well aware that the S60 Inscription was imported from China, and despite my open-minded stand on globalism I wasn't sure I wanted to have one of the first examples. But, bolstered by assurances from my salesman (his wife is driving one) that it was the same or better quality as the Euro built cars, I took a test drive...and didn't find any reason to worry. He went looking for my color preference and secured one which was due in right around the end of my lease.
In the end I was able to reduce my monthly payment by $25 on a car with an MSRP almost $10,000 higher than the old one, with tire/wheel and key packages included. The price of the car was about $2,200 under invoice.
Some have said that the only way dealers could sell these cars would be to heavily discount them. This seems like a good deal to me, so maybe there's some truth to that. But it's still a $40k+ car. This dealer has 16 S60 Inscriptions listed on their web site so they're clearly motivated to sell some, and Volvo is providing significant support.
There's been a lot of noise in the XC90 section about the quality of the dealers. This dealer recently completed a modest remodel of their showroom, added some funky Swedish furniture, and generally spruced up. I've always been treated well whether I was looking for a $15k used car or a $48k new car. But there have been some changes that were not obvious from just walking through the showroom or waiting around for an oil change.
The last 2 purchases I made here were with the "internet" salesman and were very easy. Most communication was done by email, no pressure. The guy has moved on, and this time around I worked with the sales manager, Jeff Barsom. The initial discussion was great, consultative approach, no pressure, very respectful of my time and preferences. Spent one hour on a Saturday morning at the dealership plus a few emails and that's all the time I invested until delivery, not counting my obsessive research of course.
When I arrived at the appointed time the car was in the showroom waiting. After small talk I was introduced to the Finance Mgr. I was immediately on guard because previous transactions had been handled by my salesman, without any F&I nonsense.
My fears were unfounded. Ben Bright pulled out an iPad Pro and showed me the new app they use to handle the transaction. It had a summary of the pricing and lease details we had already agreed on, in fact it was about $500 better than I was expecting. We then walked to his office where this app was projected on a large LCD TV. He pointed out that there was a video camera in the room, probably more for the dealer's protection than for me, but it was interesting. Since he didn't leave me hanging around it certainly wasn't for spying on me. While he poked at his computer, we watched a short video which described the optional packages we could choose to add, including the total and monthly price of each.
I've never bought anything from a dealer F&I guy in my life, and sometimes it's an uncomfortable, time wasting conversation. In this case, I went for the wheel/tire protection and key replacement. Both added a total of about $30/month, and I think it's money well spent. Those pretty wheels look delicate, and my family has a lost key panic once a month. It took about 10 minutes before we were signing the contract and heading back to the car. It was quick, easy, and a win-win.
Since I've never bought a Mercedes or BMW, I can't say whether this stacks up or not. I was not offered a Latte, but I wouldn't have had time to drink it anyway. It's hard for me to imagine a more positive transaction.
So this is the big question. Sure, it seems like it's up to Volvo's quality standards, but will that prove out in the long run? I can't predict the future, so only time will tell, and of course I'm protected by the warranty and the fact that, at lease end, I know exactly what the residual value will be ($24,505). If I have trouble I can always just turn it in, which is probably what I'll do anyway so I can get a new '19 S60 on the SPA platform.
For now, I can report (after only 1 day and 40 miles of ownership) that:
It does not creak or rattle at all. My old car, after 37k miles, was starting to creak a little around the plastic bits.
Fit and finish seem to be perfect. I see no irregularities. When the weather allows I'll hand wash and wax it, and take a closer look. The interior details, as evidenced by the lovely wood trim on the center console, are very pleasing (despite the dust speck).
And make no mistake, this car is not just assembled in China, the majority of the content as stated on the window sticker is from China, including the engine (transmission is of course from Japan).
US/Canadian Parts Content: 1%
It's like an iPhone. Designed in Sweden, made in China.
From a safety standpoint, IIHS does not differentiate this model from the rest of the S60/V60 lineup, and really why should they, since the structure is the same. All the tech features seem to work fine, the LKA and collision warning are already starting to annoy me and I may very well just turn them off. The rear view camera and ACC are just awesome.
So, I'll just continue getting to know this car, hopefully take it on a nice road trip soon, and keep a careful watch for problems, just like I did with my previous car. And if I have any noteworthy issues, I'll share them here.