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
One of the first things you’ll notice about the Volvo S60 interior is the portrait infotainment system that takes pride of place in its simple, understated dashboard. This controls almost all of the car’s functions, so there’s no need for a myriad of buttons cluttering up the Volvo S60’s cabin. As a result, it looks neater than what you get in a BMW 3 Series and even edges ahead of the relatively minimalist Audi A4 in the simplicity stakes.
That isn’t to say the Volvo S60 looks drab inside – you get plenty of textured aluminium inserts on the dashboard and a set of solid metal door handles that feel solid and expensive. Go for a top-spec T8 Polestar Engineered model and you even get bright yellow seat belts to compliment the car’s gold brake callipers.
It doesn’t just look good inside, the Volvo S60 feels pretty well built, too. It isn’t quite up to the hewn-from-granite levels of the Audi A4, but there are plenty of soft, squidgy plastics dotted about the place and the various cubby holes and storage bins come with lids that close softly rather than slam down when you release them. The sides of the centre console even come carpeted rather than trimmed in hard plastic so you won’t bruise your fingers if you’re racing to put on your seatbelt.
The seats are supportive and can be had with supple Nappa leather upholstery that feels just as posh as the leather seats you get in a BMW 3 Series or Audi A4. Top-spec Polestar Engineered versions even come with contrasting yellow stitching to match their vivid seatbelts.
Most Volvo S60s come with a leather gear lever surround, but hybrid versions get a shorter crystal gear knob instead. It’s hardly an Earth-shattering change, but it does feel nicer than the plain glossy black lever you get in almost every other mid-sized saloon car.
Flying in the face of the S60’s neat, understated Swedish design are the luminous yellow seat belts you get in top-spec Polestar Engineered models
All Volvo S60s come with a 9.0-inch touchscreen infotainment display mounted on the dashboard. This screen is fitted in a portrait – rather than landscape – fashion, so it feels just like an iPad to use. It responds just as quickly each time you swipe through menus or pinch to zoom in on the high-res map display, too.
Unfortunately, it comes with only a few physical buttons so it isn’t particularly easy to use when you’re driving. There’s a central button to return you to the main menu screen and some controls for the stereo (including a large, easy to reach volume knob), but that’s your lot – even tweaking the climate control settings must be done through the touchscreen’s menus.
As a result, the Volvo S60’s infotainment system isn’t as easy to get to grips with as the more conventional setups you get in the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series. You can, however, use the Volvo S60’s touchscreen while wearing gloves – presumably rather handy in cold Swedish winters.
Another point in the Volvo S60’s favour is the fact you get satellite navigation as standard across the range. Inputting a postcode is easy and the maps are bright, clear and easy to read. Unfortunately, you can’t swipe or zoom in on the map screen unless you have it in full-screen mode and it doesn’t come with gorgeous high-resolution satellite imagery like the Audi A4’s navigation system.
If you aren’t a fan of Volvo’s own sat nav, you can mirror your phone’s navigation apps using Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. These smartphone mirroring features are standard across the S60 range, but because they aren’t designed to work with a portrait-style infotainment screen, your phone’s maps only occupy half of the Volvo S60’s display.
Unlike many mid-size saloon cars, the Volvo S60 comes with a digital driver’s display as standard. This 12.3-inch screen replaces conventional analogue dials – just like Audi’s optional Virtual Cockpit system – and can display a combination of gauges or sat-nav directions right in your eye line.
Another feature that might just win you over is the Volvo S60’s excellent stereo. The 170W 10-speaker unit sounds significantly better than the standard stereos you get in most alternatives but the optional Bowers and Wilkins system is even better.