What is it?
Curvy and distinctive Swedish saloon that puts safety at the forefront of its not inconsiderable engineering prowess, the S60 is giving up some of its past Volvo identity to become another accomplished but indistinguishable Euro-box with competent road manners, good refinement and lots of kit at a keen price.
This facelifted one gives the front end a much-needed refresh, and also tries to clean up the mass of controls inside, although with more limited success here.
The S60 is firmly sprung, giving it a slightly more sporting edge than we’d have expected from the brand that puts safety before breakfast on its daily to-do list. Volvo wanted this car to be a bit more exciting than past efforts and has tried to engineer and style it to complement this. It hasn’t worked. There’s plenty of grip and the body is controlled in corners, but the steering is lifeless and vague and the auto ’box not up to a performance role.
In a straight line, all the S60 engine variants are quick enough. We’d rather have the throbby fivecylinder D3 and D5, although Volvo says its future is actually in the superb four-cylinder D4 Drive-E engine. Its broad spread of power, surprising revviness and general overall refinement all ensure there’s no doubting Volvo’s logic. This is an engine that’s got the measure of any German rival...
On the inside
The S60 feels a little tight in the cabin, especially when compared to something like the reasonably sized Passat or positively cavernous Mondeo that both undercut it. Volvo does make a lovely interior, though, managing to remain quite unique in the way it styles its console and instrument binnacle. Everything looks and feels very high quality in here, as close to the best German rivals as anyone else has got and more so in some areas of detail.
The front seats, as always with Volvos, are really comfortable and supportive and this feels like the sort of car you could do high miles in without getting tired or stiff. Unless you’re in the back, however, which is a bit pinched for this class.
The Volvo S60 is well equipped, with the entry-level model still equipped with posh toys like sat nav. Every car in the range also gets Volvo’s City Safety System that recognises pedestrians in the road ahead via a camera hidden in the rear-view mirror. It gives you a warning to brake and if you don’t, it does it for you. All very 21st-century Volvo, and occasionally just a little bit too much like Big Brother. All diesels are fuel efficient, the new Drive-E D4 exceptionally so. CO2 of just 99g/km is amazing.