The all-new third generation Volvo S60 really raises the stakes in the mid-size executive saloon sector. It looks dynamic in its design and boasts excellent road-holding with outstanding handling ability. There is a wealth of on-board technology along with a whole host of first-class safety specifications, making it quite the all-rounder.
The goodStyling, handling, technology and safety kit
The badNo diesel option
Volvo S60 – first drive (2019)
Volvo has upped the ante in the mid-sized executive saloon sector with the launch of its all-new third generation S60 and the company claims it’s the most ‘dynamically handling Volvo ever made’.
It certainly looks the business with sporty, athletic styling and it is powered by a perfectly tuned petrol engine at launch, which delivers some exciting and impressive sprint stats. But can the S60 realistically take on the big guns from the German marques such as the BMW 3 Series and Audi A4, or even the Jaguar XE?
The S60 is priced from £37,920 and is the first model that Volvo has offered without a diesel powertrain and there is no sign of introducing one either. It is also the first car to be built in the US – a country famed for its love affair with the sedan, or as we know them saloon cars.
Initially there is just one highly-specced model called the R-Design Edition, but this will soon be joined by R-Design Plus, luxurious Inscription Plus and performance-orientated Polestar Engineered versions.
Powering the car is Volvo’s 2.0-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine with various outputs. The engine range comprises a 250hp T5 petrol (at launch) with the addition of 390hp T8 Twin Engine and 405hp T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered petrol-electric hybrid versions. There will be a T6 petrol and Volvo has hinted at the possibility of a T6 Twin Engine petrol-electric hybrid unit later on.
All cars are fitted with an eight-speed automatic transmission with petrol versions being front-wheel-drive, while hybrids are all-wheel-drive.
There’s no denying the fact that the four-door S60 is a fabulous looking car guaranteed to turn heads with its sleek, dynamic streamlining complimented by full LED headlights with T-shaped daytime running lights, distinctive tail lights, high gloss back exterior trim, twin exhaust pipes, a black front grille with metal surround and alloy wheels ranging in size from 18 to 20 inches.
The interior is equally impressive with Volvo’s traditional minimalist layout and plenty of quality materials. There are soft-touch surfaces, high-end trim decor, part-Nappa leather seats with full power adjustment and even the door pockets are lined.
On-board technology is plentiful and includes Volvo’s upright tablet-styled, nine-inch Sensus touchscreen control system that is the gateway to most of the car’s systems. It works just like a tablet or smartphone with pinch, zoom and swipe functions and there is full smartphone integration via Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The S60 can also be turned into a mobile WiFi hotspot via a mobile phone or the built-in car modem and a SIM card with data allowance so occupants can connect their devices.
In addition, there is a navigation system, heated seats, a rearview camera, front and rear parking sensors, a heated steering wheel, adaptive cruise control and a 12.3-inch drivers information display that can be personalised according to taste. The voice activated control system allows the driver to change the temperature or adjust the radio station without taking their hands off the wheel.
Comfort levels are exceptionally high with lots of legroom in the back of the vehicle. However, the sloping roof design of the car means rear headroom is slightly limited, so taller passengers may find their curls ruffled by the headlining.
The boot can accommodate 440 litres of luggage and our test car featured a Convenience Pack that introduced power-folding 60:40 split rear seats for £400. This, along with a few additional features, bumped the final asking price up to £41,210.
When it comes to performance, the S60 is a pure delight to drive with instant power at your disposal as it shifts effortlessly through the automatic gearbox. Steering wheel-mounted paddles offer extra control, as do the drive modes called Eco, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic. The latter mode is perfect for long sweeping country roads where the car’s full potential can be explored in more detail.
The road holding is assured and the suspension system has been specifically designed to offer increased grip, better directional stability, limited body roll and improved comfort. It succeeds on all counts.
The S60 has 350Nm of torque and powers its way to 62mph from a standing start in just 6.5 seconds, maxing out at 145mph, so definitely no slouch. On the economy front, it delivers combined fuel efficiency of 35.3-39.8mpg (WLTP) with carbon emissions of 155g/km.
But despite the great acceleration figures, the car is very composed and refined with barely a hint of body roll or loss of traction even when bends are attacked at pace. Another plus point is refinement with occupants protected fromany road surface, engine or wind noise thanks to the effective insulation system. And, should the slightest hint of any noise intrusion start to filter through, there is a pitch perfect 15-speaker Bower & Wilkins audio system.
On long motorway stretches, there is a clever Pilot Assist system whereby the car will accelerate, brake and steer for you. You do need to touch the steering wheel at regular intervals to prove you’re still alert.
And just like the V60 estate model, the S60 is packed with a long list of safety features so also gains the Euro NCAP maximum five-star rating. Volvo has an enviable reputation that is built on safety and has announced its ‘Vision 2020’ commitment whereby it aims to achieve zero deaths or serious injuries in a new Volvo by 2020.
Systems on the S60 include Volvo’s City Safety suite of collision-avoidance aids. These include automatic emergency braking which works day or night and detects vehicles, pedestrians, cyclists or large animals in front of the car. The driver is warned if a collision is likely and the system will automatically apply maximum braking force with steering assistance if necessary to avoid a collision.
Also standard is Oncoming Collision Mitigation, which is a world first in the mid-size saloon sector, and it uses the radar and camera system to detect a problem, then reacts to avoid vehicles travelling towards you.
All in all, the S60 is a most impressive top-end saloon. It may not be quite so dynamic or exhilarating to drive as the BMW 3 Series, but it is the complete package offering striking good looks, a wealth of technology, exceptional comfort levels, excellent handling and all the safety systems imaginable.
Volvo S60 Cross Country D4 Manual Lux Nav (2015)
Volvo has extended its stylish saloon range with the introduction of a Cross Country model to the S60 line-up.
Boasting an increased ride height of 65mm along with some distinctive rugged stand-out styling features, the model looks impressive from any approach thanks to alloy-looking skid plates, wheel arch extensions, 18-inch alloys and a black radiator grille.
The interior can easily accommodate five adults and is light and airy in appearance. It has a premium feel to it and there are plenty of techno treats to be explored along the way.
Standard kit includes the likes of sat nav, climate control, cruise control, an excellent sound system which is compatible with all modern media devices and plenty more besides.
The test car was priced at £33,695 but several optional packs bumped up the price-tag to £38,195.
These included a Driver Support Pack which added collision warning with auto brake, pedestrian and cyclist detection, adaptive cruise control, lane keeping assist, driver alert control, road sign recognition and a blind spot information system with cross traffic alert. There was also a Security Pack along with a Winter Pack that introduced heated seats, heated washer nozzles and a few other features.
All the instrumentation is clear and precise, and perhaps more importantly these days, simple to operate. Too many cars feature specifications that really over-complicate simple functions such as adjusting the temperature or changing radio stations but thankfully that’s not the case with Volvo.
The test car boasted a 2.0-litre 190bhp diesel powertrain mated to a six-speed manual gearbox. It has a 0-62mph sprint time of 7.7 seconds with a top speed of 130mph. According to official figures, the S60 Cross Country can achieve combined fuel economy of 67.3mpg with carbon emissions of 111g/km.
I tested the car in pretty grim British summertime weather with heavy showers and gale force winds and it was certainly reassuring that we were driving a Volvo which has such a well-established record for its safety.
The roads were quite uneven in places but the car’s highly efficient suspension system ironed out most of the creases and comfort levels were impressive considering the conditions.
The driver benefits from excellent all-round visibility and the high-seated position is a bonus when driving along country lanes with slower moving farm vehicles appearing from all angles.
The acceleration and road-holding were good and the cabin remained sufficiently quiet with minimal engine, road surface or wind noise even when the car was pushed hard.
And although Volvo expects sales of the S60 Cross Country to be low and only around the 100 mark each year, it will give owners a kind of uniqueness that has a certain appeal all of its own.
Volvo S60 D5 2.4 R-design
For a smooth, safe and very reliable drive it’s easy to see why so many people are looking to the Volvo S60.
Packed with quality features and boasting excellent fuel efficiency, the S60 has everything you could wish for in a new car.
I suppose some might call it a little bland design-wise, but for me, this is a car that really delivers on all counts in a pretty unassuming way.
The test model was a vibrant copper colour which made it very easy to find in a crowded car park and the interior was neat and exceptionally comfortable for driver and passengers alike.
The controls are ideally positioned for driver usability – most of them situated in the central control stack styling that Volvo has made its own.
And creature comforts are plentiful with sat nav, a great sound system compatible with all the modern devices, cruise control and plenty more besides.
The S60 is deceptively spacious with bags of room for five adults to travel in comfort and there’s ample storage space too thanks to the generously-sized boot and numerous other useful compartments scattered throughout. The boot’s capacity is easily increased thanks to split-folding rear seats.
But to be honest, the really impressive factor with the S60 is its drive and performance credentials.
The 2.4-litre diesel-powered engine is very smooth, and acceleration through the six-speed manual transmission is most responsive.
The cabin noise is virtually non-existent and road-holding excellent even in wetter conditions.
And when you factor in the combined fuel economy of 60.1mpg, it’s easy to see the S60’s all-round appeal. In fact, I clocked up just under 300 miles and there was still half a tank of fuel left.
Sometimes I find myself really searching to find fault with test models and if I were to be very picky then the S60’s turning lock is not fantastic and the asking price of £29,750 (£35,685 with optional extras) is not that cheap.
But you do get a great all-rounder and of course, Volvo has crammed plenty of top notch safety features into the S60. These include city safety collision avoidance and pedestrian detection which uses radar to detect a person or car and automatically applies the brakes.
It’s these types of superior world class specifications that have made Volvo such a family favourite when the number one factor really has to be safety.