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What Car? says

3 out of 5 stars

For The S60 is comfortable, has a good safety reputation and powerful engines

Against The ride quality and image need more polish

Verdict Good value as a used car thanks to its comfort, pace and quality

Go for… D5 S

Avoid… S60 R AWD

Volvo S60 Saloon
  • 1. Take a good look along the flanks of the car as they are prone to knocks in car parks
  • 2. Excessive front tyre wear is a problem common to all S60s
  • 3. The cabin is large, comfortable and packed with safety kit
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Volvo S60 Saloon full review with expert trade views

Compare the Volvo S60 with its rivals on price and the Swede delivers more power from its turbocharged engines for the same cash. Even the entry-level 2.0 T comes with 180bhp, while you can opt for more potent 210bhp, 260bhp and even 296bhp models, while diesels come in 163bhp and 180bhp forms.

For all of this grunt, the S60’s engines are not as refined as those of its German rivals’. The S60 also falls a little short of the refinement and agility of a BMW 3 Series, but revisions in early 2006 improved the ride quality and introduced some sportier styling.

What there's no question about is that the Volvo provides a large and comfortable cabin that’s packed with all of the safety equipment we’d expect. The driver is treated to a fine seating position for all-day comfort, while the rear can cope with six-footers and the boot is big.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Retail interest is very patchy, only the diesels cause a stir

James Ruppert
Used car guru

The D5 is the one to go for, thanks to its punchy five-cylinder turbodiesel engine. We’d opt for the 180bhp version (upgraded to 185bhp in 2005), because it has plenty of overtaking oomph while still being refined when cruising. It also returns economy of around 42mpg - very respectable given that it’s no slouch.

Volvo has also championed bi-fuel cars (running on petrol and cheap LPG), although these offer less performance and economy than the D5 models, so we’d stick with the diesel. All the petrol models are strong performers and came with a five-speed manual gearbox as standard, but don't be put off by the optional auto ’box, as it's smooth and effective.

You may be tempted by the S60 R AWD model, which has four-wheel drive and a 296bhp engine to make it the fastest model in the range, cracking 0-62mph in 5.7sec. However, it also has Volvo’s active ride technology that makes the ride much too firm.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but big average bills

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct

Volvo might pack plenty of punch into its turbocharged engines, but that doesn’t mean they’re heavy on fuel. All but the S60 R will turn in more than 30mpg in mixed driving conditions, while the diesels top 40mpg.

The S60 is also a little easier on insurance than many of its rivals, with even the S60 R AWD sitting in group 18 - many of its rivals are two groups higher.

Maintenance costs are good, too. Volvo dealers’ labour rates work out considerably cheaper than most of its executive rivals’, and there are plenty of independent Volvo specialists out there capable of looking after an S60 at lower prices. Warranty Direct’s information shows that an S60 costs less to repair than its rivals.

The only word of caution is that the front tyres take a bit of a pounding from the engines’ power, so check these out and budget for a new set on a regular basis.

Trade view

James Ruppert

Retail interest is very patchy, only the diesels cause a stir

James Ruppert
Used car guru

Front tyre wear is a problem common to all S60s as the powerful engines drive the front wheels; it’s easy to get through a set in 12,000 miles, so allow for this in your budget.

When looking at a D5, make sure the engine idles smoothly. If not, it can be a sign that the engine’s injectors are packing up, which is a pricey fix. The petrol engines can also suffer from a lumpy idle, but this is more likely to be the air mass sensor and that’s a cheaper problem to rectify.

There have been reports of problems with the central locking not working and the cruise control ceasing to operate, but these are about the only problems owners have reported.

Finally, take a good look along the sides of the car as the S60 has broad, flat flanks that are prone to knocks in supermarket car parks.

Trade view

Duncan McLure-Fisher

Low failure rates but big average bills

Duncan McLure-Fisher
Managing Director,
Warranty Direct
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