Words by Erin Baker, Editorial Director at Auto Trader
If you’re in the market for a sporty saloon, you’re probably looking at a BMW 3-Series. And maybe an Audi A4, and possibly the Jaguar XE we reviewed recently. But the Volvo S60 should also be on your list to test drive. Volvo is currently making some of the best-looking cars on the market, with great tech as well as the best safety systems.
That rear end is a piece of art. We’ve admired it on the S90, this car’s bigger sister, but really, Volvo is just making the most beautiful cars at the moment. Inside is all about Scandi chic, so you’ll be wanting to specify the pale leather and bleached wood options, where they exist (play around with the car configurator).
There’s loads of room, and a feeling of space chichis enhanced by Volvo’s big central touchpad, the size of an iPad which controls nearly everything other than going and stopping.
Volvo was hot on the heels of Tesla in introducing a big central touchscreen for features like satnav, media, aircon, heated seats, activating safety systems like blind-spot warning… everything, really. It works by pinching, scrolling and swiping the screen. There’s full smartphone integration, with apps including Spotify, Yelp and Google local search. The car also has a wifi hotspot and access to Volvo’s On Call service which allows you to control the car’s heating and satnav via your phone, as well as remotely activating the car’s horn and lights to help you locate it in a crowded carpark.
Oh, and we’d advocate ticking the options box for the more expensive Bowers and Wilkins 15-speaker audio system if you like your music loud and immersive.
Volvo has always excelled here: what the brand’s cars lose in dynamic character, they gain in supreme comfort for passengers. The seats are big and well cushioned, there’s always plenty of shoulder and head space, the ride is always quiet and supportive, and everyone generally arrives at their destinations refreshed and raring to go. Big tick.
In the short term, the S60 is offered with just one engine: the T5 (that’s the badge) petrol 2.0-litre job, which is surprisingly feisty, and also surprisingly quiet. There’s plenty of power for overtaking on country roads and motorways and it does weirdly give this Volvo a slightly sporty character, which isn’t what Volvos are traditionally known for. At all. But it’s nice, in a weird way. It comes with an eight-speed automatic gearbox to save your left foot from a clutch pedal in loaded traffic.
In a few months there will be petrol hybrid version on offer, called the T8 Twin Engine, but the T5 makes the S60 a really nice car, and you should get about 35mpg from it, which is fair to middling. We’d recommend sticking to the simple petrol engine.
Volvos don’t come cheap, but wit all the inbuilt safety systems, high-quality leather and plush ride, you get a lot of car for your money. The number of ancient Volvos still on our roads with huge mileages also shows just how reliable they are.
The S60 is being launched in the top specification, R-Design, which means a price of £37,920. Break that down into monthly payments on a PCP finance plan, and you’ll be looking at about £300 a month, based on a £7,650 deposit, 48-month contract and no more than 10,000 miles a year.