The 2.0-litre five-cylinder D3 diesel engine has an impressive-sounding 161bhp, but it's not as flexible as you'd expect. The D5 diesel has 202bhp for a little extra pace, while the turbocharged 3.0-litre T6 petrol really shifts. Of the four-cylinder petrol engines, even the weakest (the T3) is smooth and willing, while the 115bhp 1.6-litre DRIVe diesel performs well, given how economical it is.
The S60 balances the needs of driver appeal and on-board comfort pretty well. It handles crisply and has plenty of grip, and although the suspension is rather firm, it’s not uncomfortable and controls body movement well. It’s only on bad roads where things can get a bit choppy, particularly if you specify the top-spec R-Design trim, which features a lowered and stiffened suspension. The steering reacts very quickly, which is good on a twisty road but not so welcome on the motorway.
With road noise subdued and suspension noise – the bane of too many recent Volvos – negligible, the S60 is quiet enough in isolation. However, it’s not as refined as its key rivals. There’s a fair bit of wind noise at speed, and the five-cylinder diesel engines are boomy, particularly when combined with the Geartronic automatic gearbox. The gearshift on manual versions is vague, too.
The S60 undercuts the list price of the equivalent BMW, Audi and Mercedes models, but you'll still be able to negotiate a discount at the showroom. Resale values aren’t as strong as the S60’s rivals', however, and contract hire rates are rather high. Fuel economy and CO2 emissions for the diesel models are respectable, but not as good as the best. The T6 petrol models are pricey to buy and run.
The S60’s cabin isn’t particularly flashy, but the quality of the materials used and the solid construction give the car the air of a high-quality product. Most of the plastics and fabrics are easy on the eye and the controls have a satisfying feel. Volvo’s reliability record is generally good, if not up with the best.
The S60 comes with the high standard of safety kit that you’d expect from Volvo. Six airbags and stability control are standard, as is Volvo’s City Safe system, which detects objects in front and can stop the car to prevent low-speed impacts. The optional Driver Support Pack includes a Pedestrian Detection System – which can also recognise a person in the road – along with adaptive cruise control, a lane-departure warning system and a blind-spot information system.
For the driver, the S60 is as good as we’ve come to expect from Volvo. The driving position is excellent (if a little on the high side), and the seats deserve a special mention – they’re supportive, but also accommodating and comfortable. All-round visibility is fine, but the dashboard layout could be a little simpler.
The S60 has plenty of space for four adults, with lots of head- and legroom all-round. Access to the rear seats is good, but the sculpted rear bench makes life rather uncomfortable for a central rear passenger. The S60’s boot is a useful size, but it’s significantly smaller than its key rivals’.
The S60 comes in Business Edition, SE, SE Lux, R-Design and R-Design Lux trims. Alloy wheels, cruise control and climate control are standard on all, with SE adding smarter trim, Bluetooth and an uprated stereo. SE Lux adds leather, electric seats and active headlights. R-Design trim adds stiffer suspension. You can also upgrade every trim except the Business Edition to add sat-nav.
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