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Volvo S60 Hybrid Review

The Volvo S60 Plug-in Hybrid looks great and will be safe and quick, but you’ll need to have it plugged in a lot to make the most of the EV power.

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6/10
wowscore
This score is awarded by our team of
expert reviewers
With nearly 60 years of experience between them, carwow’s expert reviewers thoroughly test every car on sale on carwow, and so are perfectly placed to present you the facts and help you make that exciting decision
after extensive testing of the car

What's good

  • Sharp-looking executive
  • Hybrid system makes it very quick
  • As safety-conscious as you'd expect

What's not so good

  • Fiddly infotainment set-up
  • Not as fun to drive as German saloons
  • Economy is a fantasy unless you plug it in when stopped

Volvo S60 Hybrid: what would you like to read next?

Is the Volvo S60 Hybrid a good car?

The Volvo S60 Plug-in Hybrid is about as sporty-looking as Volvos get, because it looks bullish enough to go toe to toe with the likes of the Audi A4 and BMW 3 Series.

It looks especially sporty if you pick a Volvo S60 R Design model, and even more so if you go for a Polestar Engineered model, which is kind of like an Volvo’s AMG, but with a bit more of an eco-conscience.

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 from the cut-and-paste designs you get on an Audi A4 or BMW 3 Series.

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.

S60 Plug-in is very relaxing when in full-on EV mode, but it looks a lot sportier than it actually drives.

Mat Watson
Mat Watson
carwow expert

The 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 combines a turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and electric motor. Together, these generate up to 318hp and 430Nm of torque, and turn the S60 into a bit of a drag-strip king, with 0-60mph in as little as 4.2 seconds.

Volvo S60 Plug-in Hybrid range and charging

The Volvo S60 can cruise in near-silent electric-only mode for up to 36 miles. When it’s time to charge (which will be often), it will take between three to eight hours, depending on your charger.

These plug-in 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.

How practical is it?

There’s loads of space in the front and back, but the central rear passenger gets a bit more of a raw deal.

Boot (seats up)
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Boot (seats down)
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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 436 litres of boot space which as around 10% less than you get in the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes C-Class.

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.

What's it like to drive?

Efficient as long as it’s plugged in, but doesn’t drive as sportily as it looks.

This T8 hybrid model 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 303hp in the standard T8 and 318hp in range-topping Polestar Engineered versions. As a result, the Polestar model will leap from 0-60mph in just 4.2 seconds while the standard T8 takes two 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 36 miles in near-silent electric-only mode before the petrol engine is called upon to lend a hand.

The eight-speed automatic gearbox 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 sprightly 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.

What's it like inside?

The interior features luxurious seats and plenty of kit, but the infotainment could be slicker.

Next Read full interior review