Volvo S60 Review
The Volvo S60 is an upmarket saloon car with a stylish interior and plenty of space for passengers. It’s not particularly thrilling to drive, though, and you can’t get it with a diesel engine.
This score is awarded by our team of expert reviewers after extensive testing of the car
- Stylish looks
- Spacious interior
- Comfortable to drive
What's not so good
- No diesel engines
- Unintuitive infotainment
- Alternatives are more fun
Volvo S60: what would you like to read next?
The Volvo S60 is the baby saloon of the Volvo range but still looks every bit as premium as its bigger brothers. You’ll want to consider it if you’re looking for a small saloon car in the same vein as the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class, but don’t fancy a diesel and want to make a stylish statement in the company car park.
Helping the Volvo S60 stand out is an aggressive front end with a wide grille, lots of real air intakes (unlike the plastic fakery you get in a C-Class) and narrow headlights with inserts designed to look like – in Volvo’s own words – ‘Thor’s hammer’.
Climb inside and you’ll find the Volvo S60’s interior is a bit less Norse mythology and a bit more Scandi-noir crime thriller. That’s not to say you’ll need subtitles to understand the central 9-inch infotainment system, but it all feels undeniably cool and super fashionable.
Almost everything you touch – even down to the door pockets – comes with a plush, yielding finish and the cool brushed metal trims on the dashboard and centre console feel every bit as fancy as those in a BMW 3 Series.
There’s also a slick 12-inch digital driver’s display as standard which helps make up for the slightly unintuitive main infotainment touchscreen. The latter comes with most of the features you’d expect as standard – including sat nav – but the menus aren’t quite as well thought-out as those in an Audi or BMW.
Range-topping Polestar Engineered models do their best to shake Volvo’s sumptuous-not-sporty image, but they still aren’t quite as fun to drive as some simpler non-hybrid alternatives.
Unlike those cars though, you get lovely Nappa leather seat trim as standard and there’s loads of adjustment to help you get comfy. There’s space for lofty adults to stretch out in the back too, but things get a bit cosier when you try and carry three in the back at once. It’s the same story when you come to packing the Volvo S60’s boot. It isn’t quite as roomy as those in German alternatives, but it’ll happily swallow a few large suitcases or a large baby buggy.
No matter how much you’re willing to pay, you can’t have your Volvo S60 with a diesel engine. Instead, there’s a range of increasingly powerful 2.0-litre petrol and petrol-hybrid models to choose from.
The entry-level T5 is a good allrounder – it’s smooth, quiet and comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox as standard. There are more powerful T6 and T8 hybrid versions if you fancy something faster, which come with the added benefit of being able to cruise around town in electric-only mode. They’re quite expensive though, and can’t match the real-world fuel economy of diesel-powered alternatives.
Whichever model you pick, you’ll find the Volvo S60 is easy and comfortable to drive. It comes with a decent amount of safety kit as standard too, and you can even get it with a system that’ll accelerate, brake and steer for you on motorways – just the thing for a dull Monday-morning commute.
All this helps makes the Volvo S60 a very tempting small saloon – especially if you prioritise safety and style ahead of sporty handling. See how much you can save on a new car by visiting our Volvo S60 deals page.
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
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 as standard 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 os 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- and head-room and there’s 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 plenty of space 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 four petrol engines – all 2.0-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.
The 310hp supercharged and turbocharged T6 is faster – it’ll sprint from 0-60mph in less than 5.6 seconds – but it trails the T5’s fuel economy by around 3mpg. It’s definitely worth checking out if you live somewhere prone to particularly icy water weather, however, because it comes with four-wheel drive as standard.
Also available are two T8 hybrid models. These use the same turbocharged and supercharged petrol engine as T6 versions to drive the front wheels but adopt an electric motor under the boot floor to drive the rear wheels. Together, the engine and motor produce 400hp in the standard T8 and 415hp 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 very nicely – especially if you avoid the optional 19-inch alloy wheels on high-spec models.
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.