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
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 0-62mph takes a very respectable 6.5 seconds – and Volvo claims it’ll return around 35mpg.
The 310hp supercharged and turbocharged T6 is faster – it’ll sprint from 0-62mph in 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 0-62mph in just 4.7 seconds while the standard T8 takes a few tenths of a second longer.
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
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.
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 let the car 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 and large animals 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 larger 19-inch alloy wheels on R-Design models.
The same can’t be said of the Polestar Engineered version, however. These sporty models come with upgraded suspension designed to make the Volvo S60 feel as nimble and as sporty as possible, but you’ll feel them 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.