Performance & drive
What it’s like to drive, and how quiet it is
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 (385hp 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. As it’s also one of the cheaper options in the range, it’s our recommendation.
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 fancy something petrol powered, we’d certainly consider the T5 – it’s faster than the D4 on paper and its super-linear power delivery is quite enjoyable in real-world driving. A cheaper T4 is available but is noticeably coarser, albeit still reasonably brisk. We’d still rather the meaty mid-range shove of the diesel D4, though.
The four-wheel drive T8 plug-in hybrid models are much faster, combining an uprated petrol engine (that powers the front wheels) with an electric motor (for the rear wheels). Opt for the Polestar Engineered version, and 0-62mph takes just 4.6sec. In contrast to this part-electric four-wheel drive system, other V60s are offered with a mechanical setup with all the wheels driven by the engine. It's only really intended for greater traction on greasy roads, though; if you want more ruggedness, have a look at our Volvo V60 Cross Country review.
Every petrol and hybrid V60 has an eight-speed automatic gearbox, and this 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, V60 diesel buyers can opt for the six-speed manual ’box. While this 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. The T5 is noticeably smoother than the slightly gruff T4, while T8 models add the trick of being able to run almost silently on their electric motors.
The A4 pips the V60 for hushed progress elsewhere, too. Even though several 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 long-distance jaunts.
The V60 strikes a happy balance with its ride – assuming you tick the right suspension box when ordering the car. With standard suspension and 17in or 18in wheels (you’ll find these 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.
Racy R-Design trim adds lowered sports suspension that certainly helps tighten body control over wavy roads, but causes the V60 to fidget more over imperfect road surfaces, especially when the optional larger wheels are fitted. This is still a far better setup than the optional adaptive suspension; this proves too soft and floaty in Comfort mode and too harsh in the sportier Dynamic mode.
Whichever trim-level you choose, though, 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 smaller 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.
The Performance-oriented T8 Polestar Engineered model gets expensive Ohlins adjustable dampers and a bespoke suspension tune. Despite weighing 300kg more than a non-hybrid V60, a challenging country road can’t upset its composure, and it feels surprisingly agile for two-tonnes of estate car. Its ride is rather firm, but although you feel details of the road’s surface, it never crashes or bangs. Changes to Its steering give you a better sense of connection to the road than a regular V60 can provide, and make it easier and more enjoyable to thread down a twisty road. Grip is strong but you’ll always feel it wash wide at the front first, the electric motor only really making itself known when pulling out of the tightest corners and junctions.