Volvo S60 Driving, Engines & Performance | Top Gear
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Tuesday 3rd October


What is it like to drive?

Volvo’s very proud of the way the S60 drives, and says it’s the closest its latest generation of models gets to a drivers’ car. And it certainly builds on their pleasing dynamics with the inherent benefits of being a bit smaller and lighter than the various SUVs and estates that have gone before it. It turns in pretty keenly, grips very tenaciously, and feels tautly controlled in corners.

It’s the most fun car Volvo currently makes, but it still lags behind the best driving cars in the class – that 3 Series as well as the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Jaguar XE. Those are all rear-driven, and a car that’s predominantly front-driven – even the AWD S60s don’t send much power rearwards – would have to do something very special to beat them. This still feels like a car that favours being comfy and easy going over setting your hair on fire, and with extremely comfy seats and next to no engine noise at a sensible cruise, it’s largely very good at that. It’s just still a bit too firm to fully pull off being a shrunken limo – a problem that’s afflicted all of Volvo’s new generation cars.

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There’ll be a mixture of petrol and petrol-electric versions, all using a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo engine for most of their power. A T4 version with around 190bhp will kick off the range in the UK, with a 250bhp T5 above it; both front-wheel drive, and both automatic, we suspect. Above those there’ll be an all-wheel-drive T6 with 306bhp, and a pair of plug-in hybrids topped by a T8, with around 400bhp when the engine and motor are in full effect.

This is the car that comes (optionally) in ‘Polestar Engineered’ form, which brings Brembo brakes and Ohlins dampers, the latter adjustable through 22 levels. Volvo’s own engineers admit you won’t want to ratchet them up too much for road use (the car’s already firm) and that few people will take a posh hybrid saloon on a trackday, so we suspect their inclusion is more of a statement of intent in a segment of the market boasting some very good-to-drive cars.

Now, this particular tester loves Ohlins dampers and the focus they bring to a car. I want to encourage Volvo to implement such focus on its cars. But they feel a little superfluous on a plug-in hybrid that weighs around two tonnes, while the Brembos are a little wasted when the brake regeneration is overbearing enough to rob you of proper brake feel.

The T8’s a pretty tidy – and surprisingly entertaining – car to hustle around, and blooming quick when you’re full of charge. But we’d love to try a simpler, lighter spec of S60 with the fancy suspension and brakes. That AWD T6 feels just as brisk without all the hybrid gubbins on board.

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The T8 does lots of other stuff well, though. You can do around 20 miles of emissions-free driving if you’ve plugged it in, while if you leave the car to juggle the petrol and electric power itself, you’ll up your fuel economy by about 50 per cent compared to a petrol-only S60.

Highlights from the range

the fastest

Volvo S60 D5 [215] R DESIGN 4dr [Start Stop]
  • 0-627.4s
  • CO2119.0g/km
  • BHP215
  • MPG62.8
  • Price£30,365

the cheapest

Volvo S60 T3 [150] Business Edition 4dr Powershift
  • 0-6210.2s
  • CO2159.0g/km
  • BHP150
  • MPG41.5
  • Price£22,105

the greenest

Volvo S60 DRIVe [115] SE Lux 4dr Powershift
  • 0-6212.3s
  • CO2114.0g/km
  • BHP115
  • MPG65.7
  • Price£29,125
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