The Volvo S60 is a compact executive saloon and estate that is gaining some very positive reviews. It looks good, drives well, and is keenly priced oh, and dont forget the premium feel that runs throughout the whole car that allows it to mix it convincingly with Audi, BMW and Mercedes
Most reviewers prefer the diesel engines, something that over 80 percent of buyers agree with, so we borrowed a D3 R-Design for a week to dig beneath those handsome looks to find out what all the fuss is about
The S60 (S for saloon rather than V for, er versatile, which means estate in Volvo-speak) is more slippery coupe than three-box saloon and is a handsome car, so handsome that I can forgive the rather limited headroom, especially in the back.
Our R-Design model comes with swanky alloys and lowered suspension, giving this the best stance of any Volvo we can remember BTTC T5 estates excepted, of course
Its full of lovely little design features and exudes class and menace in equal measures; any ambitious middle manager would be pleased to find one on their companys car list.
The interior might not be Audi-obsessive but it is easily a match for any other premium car competitor being sleek, simple, and beautifully executed. First impressions are that it is a bit stark, but dig deeper and youll soon discover that the S60 has all the usual compact executive toys – and then some.
Climate and cruise controls, Bluetooth, electric windows all round, height adjustable seats in the front with adjustable lumbar support, split-folding rear seat, leather-trimmed gear knob, and height- and reach-adjustable leather-trimmed steering wheel all find themselves on every model, regardless of trim level.
The front seats are utterly terrific. They are, frankly, unimpressive to look at being flat and a bit shapeless but they are more supportive and comfortable than any other I can remember and theyre covered in R-Design material at this level, which feels like neoprene and is a much better material for interior use than either leather or cloth. Cubbyholes and storage places abound and the stereo is easy to synch with your Smartphone and impressively clear and powerful.
Rear legroom is on the generous side of average and the boot is a decent shape and size too, although the opening is on the small side not a problem if you choose the estate version, of course.
The S60 is a huge leap up from Volvos of old and is a pretty decent drive. Its R-Design suspension is firm but not harsh, it steers well (perhaps thanks to the unique R-Design power steering system), and brakes strongly. Yet, when its pushed a bit harder on a twisty road it struggles a bit. As the understeer builds that calm composure starts to crack – its unlikely that youll ever wake at dawn to take it for a B-road blast.
Better to stick to what it does best, which is to rocket along on fast roads as a whisper-quiet, smooth and willing partner. Driven with conviction it is a very soothing way to achieve some highly illegal average speeds, helped by the publics willingness to move out of the way of a big Volvo travelling at speed
The D3 has the mid-range, five-cylinder, 2.0-litre turbo-diesel engine, which develops 160bhp and a massive 295lb ft of torque, all of which is available between 1,400 and 2,850rpm. Good figures, eh?
So its a bit of a disappointment to find that it all feels a bit flat unless driven hard, almost as if you have to drive around a bad dose of turbo-lag. You find yourself accelerating and mentally counting to two, waiting for the D3 to take off; its easy to drive round but takes a bit of the sheen off the rest of the car. If you use the (optional and highly-recommended) 1,485 Geartronic auto box as a manual when you want instant power everything is fine – just dont expect the D3 to respond quickly to momentary overtaking opportunities by flexing its muscles using kick down alone.
Driven hard you can hit 62mph in 8.7 seconds (the same time as for the manual car) and go on to a top speed of 134mph. Its a gruff engine when extended (but not unpleasantly so) yet is surprisingly quiet when youre cruising along at high speeds and low revs.
Fuel consumption is claimed to be as low as 48.7mpg but I only managed 34.2mpg in a week of mixed driving. CO2 emissions are 152g/km for the automatic against 129 for the manual, which puts it into tax band G.
Value for Money
The S60 range starts at 22,995 on the road and the D3 pitches in at 24,3954. However, our 27,400 R-Design was loaded with extras including the Driver Support Pack at 1,635, Premium Pack at 1,280, Convenience Pack worth 1,025, Winter Pack including Active Bending headlights at 1,025, a 870 sunroof, 665 Security Pack, Metallic paint at 640, a rear camera costing 615; add em all up and you realise that youre driving a 37k Volvo, which seems a lot of money
If you are looking for a stylish intercontinental missile with immense presence and dont fancy an Audi A4
then the Volvo S60 is definitely worth a look. Its cool, stylish, and amazingly comfortable, finally laying to rest the decades-old staid image that Volvo are working so hard to shed. Just dont expect a pin-sharp back-road hero, will you?
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