Volvo S60

Swedish premium saloon gets top marks for safety and comfort

This is the average score given by leading car publications from 24 reviews
  • Very comfortable
  • Roomy interior
  • Handsome looks
  • Not a sporty drive
  • Some uneconomical engines
  • Quick depreciation

£21,875 - £35,845 Price range


5 Seats


48 - 74 MPG


The reviews of the S60 show that critics generally like it. Rhey are fans of the solid build quality of the interior and the fact there’s a decent amount of comfort and space – both typical Volvo strong points, but they also like the sleek styling that makes it stand out a little in the premium saloon market.

However, despite its quirky charm and competence as an all-rounder, the S60 can’t quite vouch for class honours or live up to Volvo’s claim that it’s one of the sportiest cars its ever made, as reviewers note that it cannot be hustled down B-roads as well as some competitors.

Updates in 2013 went some way to addressing handling issues, with Polestar, the motor-sport division of Volvo, offering an optional performance package with R-Design trimmed cars, but as a package, the S60 appears to remain at home munching motorway miles rather than tearing down windy lanes.

As with almost every other Volvo on sale, the cabin of the S60 looks and feels like it belongs in a premium car.

Testers say that it can’t quite rival what Audi can manage, but it’s certainly solidly built and the materials used are of a high quality. The controls are largely intuitive and easy to use, the only fly in the ointment being the rather clunky sat-nav system.

The S60 is also practical, and there are a few useful cubbyholes littered around the cabin. Most passengers in the rear also shouldn’t feel too pinched for space, as there’s good head and leg room on offer, and the seats are typically comfy and supportive.

However, perhaps surprisingly for a Volvo, the boot isn’t the largest in the class – rather it’s smaller than the boots in virtually all of the S60’s main rivals.

Volvo claims that the S60 is the most dynamically sorted car the Swedish firm has ever made, and most of the critics generally agree with that statement.

Body control is well contained, it steers well and there’s good grip on twisty roads. It’s also quite a comfortable and refined car at speed, and when pootling around town the steering is light and visibility good.

However, the S60 is by no means the best compact exec to drive and falls a little short of challenging the main rivals: the BMW 3-Series and Mercedes C-class.

The position of the manual gear-shift is best suited to laid-back cruising. Some testers thought that the stiffer ride set-up on ‘R-Design’ models means it’s a bit fidgety on rougher road surfaces, and the steering is a little too light to make it truly engaging.

To say that the V60 has a diverse range of engines available is to dabble with understatement. There are four petrol engines, and four diesel engines, all of them turbo-charged and offering anywhere from 115hp to a slightly bonkers 300hp.

Petrol options include two 1.6-litre units, with either 148hp or 177hp, which need plenty of gear-changing to make progress. The 2.0-litre has a rather more potent 236hp, but the real range-topper is the 300hp T6, getting to 60mph in just over six seconds and having buckets of grip from its four-wheel drive system.

Critics state that the diesels make much more sense, and those seeking a good combination of power and economy would be wise to plump for the D3, which is a 2.0-litre unit producing 134hp.

For superb economy, there’s always the 1.6-litre DRIVe model, capable of returning 65 mpg, which is quite impressive for such a large car.

The reviews of the most efficient S60 currently on sale are fairly mixed. Both the critics thought it was a stylish and fairly affordable saloon car that can boast some very impressive fuel consumption figures. However, they agreed that the S60’s positive attributes weren’t enough to guarantee class honours.

The engine itself appears to be a very good one – it may be tuned for efficiency and refinement, but it’s still offers a decent amount of poke across the range, though one tester said it might struggle a bit once the car is loaded with passengers and their belongings.

The running costs, though, are quite impressive for what is a fairly big car – Volvo claims up to 65 mpg is possible, which means you could drive the car for 1,000 miles on a single tank if you drive carefully.

However, there are some downsides – oddly for a Volvo, the ride can be a bit firm at times, especially if you specify the car in the ‘R-Design’ trim. It’s also not quite as entertaining behind the wheel as some of its premium rivals, such as the BMW 3 Series.

Overall, it’s a good all-round car that claims to be quite affordable to buy and run for the class standard. It’s not the outright best car in its class, but the S60 DRIVe does have some appealing traits, and is worth looking at if you want a frugal alternative to the German opposition.

The Volvo S60 D3 reviews generally agree it's an impressive engine that offers a decent mix of reasonable power and economy.

The general consensus is that, with the 2.0 turbo ‘D3 diesel, the Volvo S60 makes a fairly compelling case for itself. It’s not quite as potent as the larger D5 option, but it is usefully cheaper to buy and run, yet still has enough poke to warrant the claims of ’improved performance and dynamics’.

The power band is quite narrow – most critics commented on how it felt strained and flat beyond 3,500 rpm, but there’s enough grunt low down to make the car feel fairly brisk. It also smooth and refined, and should be fairly affordable to run, thanks to the claimed 54 mpg.

However, despite being a very good all-rounder, it doesn’t do anything amazingly well when compared with its rivals – though it’s a relative bargain when compared with the pricier competition, it’s not the smoothest or most refined car in its class, nor is it the dynamic benchmark.

That being said, the S60 is an appealing choice, especially if you want something that’s different from the norm, and this spec is definitely worth having a closer look at if you’re interested in the Volvo.

The Volvo S60 D5 reviews aren't overly positive, the consensus is that the cheaper D3 engine is a better choice. It's nearly as quick and more economical. However the D5 is smooth, and worth looking at if you want a bit of extra power or regularly tow.

Much like the smaller motor in the D3 model, the critics appear to be fans of the Volvo S60 when it’s equipped with the turbo-diesel engine in the D5. Testers seem to be pleased with the car’s useful grunt, especially low down in the rev range, along with the good fuel economy figures. However, despite the claims in efficiency, it’s by no means the cheapest S60 to buy or run.

Because the D5’s engine is slightly bigger and has an extra turbocharger over the D3, this spec of S60 is fairly brisk a diesel powered saloon car – power is good at 202 bhp, but the impressive 309lb/ft of torque means you don’t need to wring the motor to the red line in order to make progress. However, despite its relative speed, it’s also fairly affordable to run – Volvo claims up to 54 mpg is possible on the combined cycle, and the CO2 output of 144g/km means it costs £130 a year to tax.

However, some testers thought that it wasn’t the most refined engine in the world, especially when compared to the smaller motor in the D3 model. It’s also not quite as efficient as some of its rivals, though it’s worth pointing out that the S60 is a bit cheaper to buy in the first place.

Overall, the D5 engine works quite well with this car, and is definitely worth considering if you want a punchy oil burner, or if you need to tow items on a regular basis. However, if you can live without the extra performance gains, we reckon the cheaper and more efficient diesels are also worth a look at.

These are general, non-engine specific reviews. They give a nice overview of what the car is like, without focusing on just one engine/version.
There’s only one review of the entry level T3 model in the S60 range, and the critic appears to be mostly satisfied with it. The T3 is by no means the quickest car in the range, but it’s brisk enough for most occasions, is suitably smooth and refined and returns decent fuel consumption figures. However, the road tester reckoned it may be better to plump for slightly more expensive but noticeably faster T4 model.

It’s by no means the most potent engine in the range, but the 1.6 turbo petrol does make a case for itself – though not exactly a road rocket, there’s enough power and torque on offer to make sufficient progress, However, it’s better suited to more relaxed driving conditions – the engine is smooth and refined, and is settled at higher speeds. It’s also fairly frugal for a 1.6 tonne car, with claims of up to 42 mpg on the combined cycle.

Overall, it’s a decent engine that suits the S60’s sporty yet settled character fairly well. However, if you can afford to spend a bit more money, the critic reckons the T4 option is the better bet – not only is it noticeably faster, but is almost as fuel efficient as the T3.

Only one critic has been able to assess the S60 with the T5 engine option so far, and the tester reckons it’s a fairly good one. It’s not the outright quickest car in the range, but it’s still quite a fast car, and it appears to ride and handle fairly well. However, there were a few areas where the critic wasn’t so impressed with it.

With 237 bhp and 23lb/ft of torque on offer, the S60 is by no means lacking in terms of performance, though the critic did reckon it didn’t feel quite as fast as the 6.9 second sprint to 60 mph suggested. That being said, it’s still a smooth engine that sounds nice when you work it, and is reportedly more fun to use than the unit in the T6 model.

However, even though it’s been honed for mild performance, the S60 is by no means the sharpest and most dynamically competent car in the world – the critic reckoned that some rivals do handle better than the Volvo. But that doesn’t stop it being a good car, and is worth a quick look at if you want a well-rounded alternative to the mainstream norm.

The flagship variant in the range, the S60 T6 model gets some fairly decent reviews. The critics appear to be big fans of the car’s meaty performance, along with its qualities as a comfortable and quirky cruiser when you’re not in the mood to thrash it. There were, though, some areas where they weren’t so keen on it.

Under the bonnet is a 304bhp version of Volvo’s 3.0 twin-turbo straight six engine, so it’s no surprise that it’s a rather quick car – the 0-60 sprint takes 6.2 seconds, and the top speed is electronically limited to 155 mph. The power delivery was seen to be smooth and linear, and one thought it sounded quite nice when you really work it.

The six-pot motor also does a decent job as a cruiser, with good levels of refinement and a relaxed nature when you’re not eager on the throttle.

However, there are some downsides – some testers thought that the brakes weren’t really up to scratch, and it’s not as engaging to drive as some of its more finely balanced rivals. Fuel consumption also isn’t that great at 29 mpg, but it is acceptable given the performance on offer.

Overall, the top-spec S60 does make a good case for itself. However, it is quite a pricey car to buy and run, and there are cheaper S60 models in the range, such as the T5, that offer similar levels of performance for much less money. It’s a good car, but unless you must have this halo in the range, we’d recommend having a look at the other models as well.

The S60 hasn’t been tested yet by Euro NCAP so there is no star rating, however one would expect nothing less than five stars as a result from one of the most safety-oriented car manufacturers in the market.

The S60 has the usual array of airbags and electronic stability systems as standard, but every S60 is also fitted with City Safety, an impressive piece of kit that recognises when a car in front is decelerating quickly and applies the brakes for the driver if they make no attempt to stop.

Adaptive cruise control, lane-departure warnings and a blind-spot warning system make up a comprehensive list of optional kit, with the Driver Support Pack providing a potentially life-saving piece of tech that scans for pedestrians that are at risk of being struck and brakes the car from around 20mph if there is no driver input.

The S60 is regarded as a premium saloon, but it’s actually fairly cheap for the class standard – all the models in the range undercut rivals such as the Audi A4, the BMW 3-Series and the Mercedes C-Class.

A decent amount of standard kit comes with the car – all cars, for instance, come with cruise control, Bluetooth connectivity, and climate control.

Depending on the engine, the S60 shouldn’t cost too much to run, and residual values could be quite strong for the economical diesel models.

However, the more opulent models and trim levels can still make the S60 a bit pricey, and the thirsty high-performance petrols are likely to depreciate quickly.


The Volvo S60 is a very capable all-rounder, and the claims by critics that it’s one of the best cars the company has ever made are certainly believable.

It’s a reasonably practical and well-refined saloon that is mostly cheaper to buy than rivals and offers a competitive range of kit.

It’s not quite good enough to topple the class leaders, unfortunately – the Audi A4 offers a particularly decent interior and the BMW 3-Series still leads the way in offering an engaging driver experience.

This should not stop you considering the Volvo, however, and even though it isn’t the best car of its type, it’s still a great car and should be short-listed if you want a supremely comfortable, smartly styled and cheaper alternative to its more popular rivals.

If the S60 is appealing to you, but you need more space, don’t forget the Volvo V60 – the estate equivalent of the saloon. Apart from the larger boot, they’re pretty much identical when it comes to specification and pricing.

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