The latest V60 is available exclusively with 2.0-litre, four cylinder engines. There’s no lack of choice, though – there are two diesels (148 and 187hp), two petrols (187hp and 247hp) and two petrol-electric hybrids (384hp and 399hp). This list might appear a tad confusing at a glance but the engine you should really focus on is the 187hp D4 diesel.
This engine allows the V60 to cover the 0-62mph sprint in a claimed 7.9sec, which is competitive and sounds plenty. In fact, it doesn’t feel quite as nippy as the Mercedes C-Class C220d Estate or Audi A4 Avant 2.0 TDI 190. But, when you’re not trying to win drag races, you’ll find the pace it offers quite sufficient; indeed, the V60 offers more than enough low to mid-range verve for effortlessly bumbling through town, and will cruise mile after mile up the motorway without any stress.
Naturally, the D3 isn't as brisk as the more powerful D4, but even this entry-level engine will take you to motorway speeds without too much fuss, pulling healthily from low in the rev range. Even so, given how small the price premium is, and that fuel economy is similar, we'd pick the D4.
If you must have a petrol, then there isn’t much reason to go for anything more than the T5 – it’s faster than the D4 on paper and in real-world driving the T5’s super-linear power delivery is quite enjoyable. We wouldn’t blame you for choosing a more-powerful petrol if your budget can cover it, but the ample performance of the T5 is a perfect match for the ethos of the V60. We’d still rather the meaty mid-range shove of the diesel D4, though.
The V60 does have an Achilles' heel, though, and it can’t be avoided on petrol models. Its eight-speed automatic gearbox tends to dither when you ask for a burst of acceleration – something that you have to factor into your driving technique if you don’t want to get caught short when pulling out of junctions or going for an overtake.
Fortunately, diesel buyers can opt for the six-speed manual ’box. While it doesn’t have the most tactile of shifts, the lever has a reasonably short throw and is easy to slot into the correct gear. We just wish the clutch pedal had a bit more feel; it can be rather tricky to find the biting point.
In terms of noise, nothing gets near to matching the hushed tones of the Audi A4 when it comes to four-cylinder diesel engines, but the V60 D4 comes a commendable second. It’s certainly more vocal than the A4 when you accelerate hard, but is never harsh and is far less grumbly than its C-Class and BMW 3 Series counterparts. However, If you want the most refined V60 experience, the smooth T5 petrol is your best bet.
The A4 pips the V60 for hushed progress elsewhere, too. Even though the versions we’ve tried were fitted with optional acoustic glass, you can still hear more flutter from wind over the door mirrors than you would in the A4. Mind you, road and suspension noise is mostly well damped out, so the V60 is still a largely hushed experience for big-mile jaunts.
The V60 strikes a happy balance with its ride – assuming you’ve got the right suspension box ticked. With standard suspension and 17in or 18in wheels (like you’ll find on Momentum and Momentum Pro models respectively), the V60 is impressive. Body movements are tightly checked over gentle bumps – sleeping policemen or undulating dips and crests on country roads, for instance – so it won’t make your passengers ill, yet it still copes well when you strike something harsher, such as a sharp-edged pothole.
However, opt for 19in wheels and adaptive suspension and you’ll find the V60’s character changes for the worse. Dynamic mode is far too firm for the majority of British roads, and even in Comfort mode, the car fidgets over all but the smoothest of surfaces. Vertical movements over crests are far too sharp and sudden, too.
In some ways, the even stiffer, lower suspension of the R-Design is a step in the right direction – it somewhat improves the harsh ride by keeping body movements in check. However, it still causes the V60 to fidget over small, frequent bumps. For the best ride, we’d stick to smaller wheels and non-adaptive suspension, but if you simply must have the cool looks of the 19-inch wheels, then the R-Design is your best bet.
Further good news is that the V60 handles well – and not just for a Volvo. Okay, it doesn't offer the pin-sharp dynamics and rear-wheel drive entertainment provided by the 3 Series Touring, but the front-wheel-drive V60 steers lightly in town and deftly on country lanes, and tracks assuredly straight on motorways. Meanwhile, its body stays planted and the tyres deliver good grip when you press on. Opt for 17in wheels and you’ll find the handling more wallowy; that’s the price you pay for the additional comfort that deeper tyre sidewalls provide. Alternatively, the stiffer R-Design setup reduces body roll and allows the V60 to turn in more sharply in corners, although the difference isn’t night-and-day.
As mentioned above, the regular V60 can be equipped with an all-wheel drive system, but if you want for more ruggedness, have a look at our Volvo V60 Cross Country review.