Volvo S60

Swedish premium saloon gets top marks for safety and comfort

7.4
wowscore
This is the average score given by leading car publications from 6 reviews
  • Very comfortable
  • Roomy interior
  • Handsome looks
  • Not a sporty drive
  • Some uneconomical engines
  • Quick depreciation
 

£22,075 - £36,045 Price range

 

5 Seats

 

48 - 72 MPG

Review

The reviews of the S60 show that critics generally like it. They 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.

The S60 used to have a diverse range of power units but recently petrol engines have been shed to allow the company to focus on diesels.

The D4 diesel is one of the best in class and the engine that comes most highly recommended in the S60 range – it produces 190hp, allowing the Volvo to speed from 0-62mph in an impressive 7.6 seconds. Yet, despite this turn of speed, it costs just £20 to tax and can return fuel economy of 72.4 mpg.

The D3 exactly matches the running costs of the D4 but, with only 150hp to call on, feels quite a lot slower – it gets from 0-62mph in nine seconds, but you’ll notice an even more significant drop off in in-gear acceleration when overtaking, say. That leaves the 120hp D2, which – with a fuel economy figure of 74.3mpg – is ever so slightly more frugal than the other diesels but is also pretty ponderous. In modern terms, its 0-62mph of 11.2 seconds is bordering on glacial.

The T4 petrol is quieter and smoother than its diesel compatriots and its 0-62mph time of 7.2 seconds means it is now the quickest model in the range on paper. In daily use, though, the D4 diesel’s performance is more accessible, feels just as quick and will cost less to run thanks to the T4’s fuel economy of 50.4mpg and annual road tax bill of £130.

 

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.

Conclusion

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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