Volvo S60 Review
The Volvo S60 is a safe and stylish saloon car with a plush interior and decent cabin space, but alternatives are more fun to drive and can be had with a wider range of engines.
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The Volvo S60 might be the baby of the Swedish brand’s range, but it looks every bit as eye-catching as the bigger S90 saloon. It certainly won’t have any trouble standing out in a company car park full of BMWs, Audis and Mercedes, that’s for sure. It looks especially sporty if you pick a Volvo S60 R Design model with its numerous black trim pieces.
Even without these upgrades, the Volvo S60’s front end looks pretty athletic thanks to its gaping air intakes and Thor’s Hammer (yes, that’s really what Volvo calls them) headlights. Things don’t look quite so cohesive at the S60’s back end, but at least its hook-shaped brake lights do something a little different to the cut-and-paste designs you get on a BMW 3 Series and Audi A4.
Step inside, and you’ll find the Volvo S60’s super-cool minimalist interior is a bit more Scandi-noir thriller than Viking mythology. Everything looks bang up-to-date, from the portrait infotainment display – that looks great but can be a bit fiddly to use – to the digital driver’s display and the unpolished driftwood trims.
The Volvo S60’s seats are another highlight because they come with plenty of adjustment and lots of support to help you while away long journeys in comfort. The back seats are pretty roomy too, although three adults will feel less cramped in a BMW 3 Series and Audi A4. Volvo’s have typically been some of the most practical cars you can buy, but this S60 trails most alternatives for outright boot space, too.
Range-topping Volvo S60 Polestar models feel sports-car fast thanks to their 405hp hybrid drive system, but they aren’t quite as fun to drive as some lighter petrol-powered alternatives.
It also can’t match the likes of the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4 for engine selection. Rather than a wide range of petrol and diesel engines, you get one petrol and a pair of hybrid units to choose from.
The standard 250hp Volvo S60 T5 is quite a bit faster than the engines you get in most entry-level alternatives and comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. The more powerful, and pricier, T8 is worth considering if you fancy something faster but still do a fair bit of town driving because It comes with a hybrid system that boosts power to up to 405hp and lets the S60 cruise in near-silent electric-only mode.
These faster Volvo S60s don’t feel quite as agile as less-powerful BMW 3 Series and Alfa Romeo Giulia models, however – even in range-topping Polestar-spec models with their upgraded brakes and suspension. They do, however, make good long-distance cruisers thanks to their quiet cabin and host of driver-assistance systems that’ll steer, brake and accelerate for you on motorways.
As a result, the Volvo S60 on of the safest saloons on sale and worth a look if you’re after something a little different to the usual crop of Audis, Mercedes and BMWs. See how much you can save by heading to our Volvo S60 deals page or read on for our in-depth Volvo S60 interior, practicality and driving review sections.
You won’t have any trouble carrying tall passengers in the Volvo S60’s back seats but Polestar Engineered versions lose out on some storage space
Unlike the capacious load bay in the V60 estate, the S60’s boot is comparatively small. Thankfully, it makes up for this with a set of very spacious back seats
Space in the Volvo S60’s front seats is generous and there’s plenty of seat adjustment to help you get comfortable – even if you’re very tall. Electric seat-height adjustment for the driver comes as standard across the range and the seats themselves are very well padded and hold you nicely in place when you’re driving. The steering wheel adjusts for height and reach too, so you’ll be sure to get a good view of the digital driver’s display.
Every Volvo S60 comes with adjustable lumbar support – just the thing to prevent backache on a long drive. Unfortunately, in cars with electric lumbar support and an extendable seat base, you have to use the touchscreen to select which area of the seat you wish to adjust before tweaking the buttons on the seat itself.
Less problematic is carrying a few adults in the Volvo S60’s spacious back seats. Even with the front seat adjusted for a six-foot-tall driver, there’s enough space in the back for an equally tall passenger to get very comfortable. There’s ample knee-room, decent headroom and just enough space for them to push their feet forwards under the front seat and stretch out, too – providing those in the front don’t like their seats too close to the floor
Things aren’t quite so comfortable if you need to carry three adults side-by-side. The middle seat is harder than the outer two and there’s a large lump in the rear floor that gets in the way of your middle passenger’s feet – especially in T8 and Polestar Engineered versions with their large underfloor battery packs.
That said, there’s more space than you get in a Mercedes C-Class and Jaguar XE so there’s ample room for three kids to get comfortable and it’s a doddle to fit a child seat thanks to the Volvo S60’s reasonably square rear-door openings. The Isofix anchor points are easy to reach behind folding plastic covers and you won’t have to stoop down a great deal to strap in a child, either.
The Volvo S60 comes with a fair number of storage bins to help you keep its cabin looking neat and tidy. The glovebox is large enough to hold a pair of 1.0-litre bottles and you get two decent-sized cupholders in the centre console under a sliding cover. Sadly, while most S60s come with a generous storage bin under the front central armrest, T8 and Polestar Engineered version have to make do with a small tray only large enough to hold a mobile phone.
The front door bins aren’t particularly generous but they’ll still carry a 1.0-litre bottle. Those in the back are tighter still, but at least your back-seat passengers get a folding rear armrest with a recessed storage tray, but no cupholders.
The Volvo S60 has 442 litres of bootspace which as around 10% less than you get in the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class. Pick a model with a spare wheel and the raised boot floor reduces its capacity further to just 392 litres.
That being said, the Volvo S60’s boot is still relatively easy to load. There’s a slight boot lip that you’ll have to hoist luggage over, but the boot opening itself is wide and square so bulky items fit without any hassle.
There’s space in the boot for a pair of large suitcases or a bulky baby buggy, and you get a handy hatch in between the back seats to let you carry very long luggage (such as skis) without folding the back seats down.
If you do need to flip the seats down, you’ll have to pay extra for the Convenience pack. This also comes with a netted storage cubby for the front passenger and a three-pin plug socket in the back instead of a 12V socket.
With both back seats folded down (in a 60:40 split) there’s enough space in the Volvo S60’s boot to carry a bike. The boot floor itself is flat with only a very slight ramp up behind the back seats so it’s a doddle to push heavier items right up behind the front seats.
The Volvo S60 is comfortable and quiet, and top-spec T8 models are impressively quick, but you can’t get any versions with a diesel engine
Top-spec T8 models come with a huge amount of very clever technology, but they’re rather expensive and don’t have as much electric-only range of other less rapid hybrids
You can get the Volvo S60 with two petrol engines – both2.0-litre units fitted with an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
The most affordable model – the turbocharged T5 with 250hp – is the model to go for if you’re sticking to a tighter budget and do mainly to short journeys. It’s pretty nippy – accelerating from 0-60mph takes less than 6.5 seconds – and you shouldn’t have too much trouble matching Volvo’s claimed 35mpg fuel-economy figure.
You can also get a T8 hybrid model that uses a turbocharged and supercharged version of the T5’s petrol engine to drive the front wheels alongside an electric motor under the boot floor to drive the rear wheels. Together, the engine and motor produce 390hp in the standard T8 and 405hp in range-topping Polestar Engineered versions. As a result, the Polestar model will leap from 0-60mph in just 4.7 seconds while the standard T8 takes a few tenths of a second longer.
These models aren’t just designed to provide sportscar-like performance in a practical saloon package – they’re also ideally suited to pottering around town. With the batteries fully charged, both T8 models can drive for around 20 miles in near-silent electric-only mode before the petrol engine is called upon to lend a hand. Don’t go thinking they’re particularly frugal, however – even with a relatively gentle touch on the accelerator you can expect T8 cars to return around 35mpg. That’s more-or-less the same as the standard T5.
The eight-speed automatic gearbox you get in all models is relatively smooth, but it doesn’t respond particularly quickly which makes the Volvo S60 feel a little lethargic when you accelerate to overtake slow-moving traffic.
The plug-in hybrid models feel more spritely thanks to the instant power delivery of their electric motors, however. They also come with an additional ‘B’ setting for the gearbox which uses the motors to slow the car when you lift off the accelerator – recharging the car’s batteries in the process.
The Volvo S60 makes a very accomplished motorway cruiser. You’ll hear barely any tyre noise at speed and almost no wind noise makes its way into the cabin, either. It’s especially stress-free to drive if you opt for the optional Intellisafe Pro pack. This adds adaptive cruise control and Volvo’s Pilot Assist systems which allows the car to accelerate, brake and even steer for you on motorways – providing you keep your hands on the steering wheel.
Thankfully, you don’t have to pay extra for automatic emergency braking – a system that’ll apply the brakes if the car senses an obstacle in the road ahead. In fact, the Volvo S60 is the first mid-size saloon able to detect not just cars, but pedestrians, cyclists, large animals and oncoming traffic in the wrong lane, and react accordingly. You can rest easy knowing that these high-tech safety features should help the Volvo S60 score very highly when it’s crash-tested by Euro NCAP.
Also helping you stay relaxed behind the wheel is the Volvo S60’s comfortable suspension. It isn’t quite as wafty as a Mercedes C-Class fitted with optional air suspension, but it’ll soften the jarring thud of pretty severe potholes nicely – if you avoid the optional 19-inch alloy wheels on high-spec models, that is.
The same can’t be said of the Polestar Engineered version, however. These sporty versions come with upgraded suspension designed to make the Volvo S60 feel as nimble and as sporty as possible, but you’ll feel they fidget more on poorly maintained roads than the standard car. They do lean less in tight corners, however, but you don’t get a particularly good idea of what the S60’s front wheels are up to when you’re driving quickly on a twisty road. Accelerate hard through a corner and you’ll find they start to drift towards the centre of the road more so than the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Jaguar XE and Alfa Romeo Giulia.
Another mild complaint you can level at Polestar-spec cars is that their upgraded Brembo brakes aren’t particularly progressive at slow speeds which makes coming to a smooth stop at a set of traffic lights rather difficult.
Also slightly tricky is threading the S60 through tight city streets. The rather large pillars between the windscreen and the doors produce some fairly large blind spots and you don’t get a particularly good view out of the rear windscreen, either. That said, you can get it with a 360-degree surround view camera system to help make parking as easy as possible.
The Volvo S60’s simple, stylish cabin looks nothing like what you get in most other saloon cars, but you’ll struggle to use its portrait infotainment system on the move