Volvo S60 Review
The Volvo S60 is a new turn for the ‘safe and comfortable’ Volvo brand identity. There’s development with a new emphasis on un-boxing the stereotypical style and ramping up the driving experience factor in this compact executive saloon. The biggest change is the inclusion of the new D4 2.0ltr Drive-E engine option, which boasts great economy figures AND performs well. They claim all of this while not diluting the class leading safety and comfort we expect from Volvo. Is it enough for this plucky Scandinavian car to take on the German big boys?
The Volvo S60 was first launched in 2010 with engines sourced from Ford. Behind the scenes they were toiling away at an engine all of their very own – the result is this new 2.0ltr Drive-E power plant, which boasts astonishing efficiency and great performance. What more could you want? Along with some small cosmetic updates and some nice extra technology, this makes this 2nd generation Volvo S60 special and puts it well in contention with the premium compact saloon competition.
The significant shift in Volvo ideology is obvious with the looks of the Volvo S60. It’s sleeker and bares a coupe-esque roofline and Aston martin style rear lights which denote a certain amoufnt of luxury sports feel. It’s clear the brand is going in the right direction with their design as this is certainly a handsome machine. It still retains a sort of safe Volvo-like essence about it, but then again it would be improper to lose everything that makes a Volvo a Volvo. There is now a wider grille and the headlamps have been restyled in shape and to include daytime running lights – all giving it a more purposeful appearance. If you pop inside you’ll notice there has been a subtle redesign here too. The general cabin mantra is comfort, simplicity and high quality. Never a bad combo. The central console is angled towards the driver for a cockpit like feel as you drive. There are a number of great optional features here including the state of the art Sensus Connect infotainment system, which allows connectivity, internet access via car mounted dongle or phone and the industry’s first in-dash voice search Spotify application. There are also class-leading comfy seats here, which is even better in the sports seats of the Volvo S60 R version. Meanwhile, in the back there is a great amount of headroom and 2 people should fit comfortably. The middle seat is usable but it’s certainly a bit of a short straw due to being curved and narrow. The 339ltr boot capacity is somewhat restricted being a whole 30% smaller than something like the space available in a rival Audi A4. How much this bothers you depends on how much you actually need the luggage capacity. That being said they’ve made up for it with a flat folding rear bench AND front passenger seat, while also including a ski hatch – all as standard, which is unique in this class. If you do need more space then it might be good to consider the roomier Volvo V60 estate.
Driving the Volvo S60 is a very different thing to older Volvos. For something that markets itself as a premium sports saloon, it’s a bit on the delusional side to call itself such. That being said, this is the most dynamic drive that a Volvo of this kind has ever had. Sure, Volvo’s have always been about the comfort and refinement, but rest assured they haven’t disappointed here. They’ve just made it much more rewarding to drive. The steering is much quicker and more direct compared to the 1st generation model and it boasts a class-leading composed ride quality. I wouldn’t recommend the R sports trim as that will stiffen the already fairly firm brakes and make for a jittery ride, clearly undercutting this virtue.
Engine-wise, the older Ford sourced engines are still going, but there seems little reason to get a Volvo V60 with anything else when the 181bhp 2.0ltr Drive-E diesel D4 model is such a brilliant balance. It’s cleaner and more economical than the entry level D2 unit and it’s faster and more responsive than the priciest D5 diesel unit. The 90kg weight reduction also makes it feel very keen and better for corners. With 0-62mph in 7.6 seconds on the way to a top speed of 140mph, all while returning 75mpg and 99g/pk! Those are fantastic stats I think you’ll agree. Modern technology eh?
All in all, what’s the lowdown with the Volvo S60? They have delivered with the Volvo S60 which can knock about with the German heavyweights in this class. Sure it could be as sporty as they say it is and it could be a bit more practical, but at the end of the day, it makes complete sense to try and blend the traditional virtues of the Volvo brand i.e class leading safety, solid build and simple Scandinavian elegance to those of more desirability: style, efficiency and performance. They have done this here especially if you count this with the brilliant D4 Drive-E diesel engine, which is sure to set a new benchmark within the brand and help reshape its identity. It can only go up for them from here.
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