- It looks fantastic, inside and out
- Super safe choice for your family
- Useful electric-only range from the plug-in models
- Mixed messages from the hybrids, are they economy or performance cars?
- Apple CarPlay is a cost option, as, oddly, are split-fold rear seats
- Limited engine choice and high pricing make it difficult to recommend against its plentiful, cheaper rivals
The safe option, or so it has been traditionally, Volvo’s virtuous stance on passenger safety is dominant in defining its products, but it’s had a renaissance of late, with cool style joining the mix. That’s very evident as we will discuss in this Volvo S60 review.
In fact, is there a better looking family saloon out there at the moment? Helping with its ability to turn heads is the fact it will never sell in the volume of competition like the BMW 3 Series, that too marking you out as different.
That design-led shift is very obvious inside, overall it’s an unfussy cabin, that’s built from some wonderful materials and there's some humour shown by the fun little Swedish flags stitched into in the seats’ seams. For quality the Volvo is right up there with the best of the premium rivals, and we’re including Audi among that list - it long leading the way in this segment.
There’s good space too, with the S60 riding on a relatively long wheelbase, which is to the benefit of rear passenger accommodation, it being measurably roomier back there than most of its rivals. What something with even more space in the back? You'll need to check out the Volvo S90.
That competition includes the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class, as well as the Jaguar XE and Lexus IS. Upper mainstream rivals like the Alfa Romeo Giulia and Volkswagen Passat are also good alternatives, as are cars like the Mazda 6 and Skoda Superb.
Of that wide-reaching bunch it’s the Lexus that’s closest aligned to the Volvo, because, like the Japanese car, Volvo doesn’t offer the S60 with any diesel engines, instead having a range of petrol and plug-in hybrids. Volvo has committed to offering its models without diesel engines going forward – that despite the estate Volvo V60 being available with a pair of diesel engines.
There’s a lot to like about the Volvo S60, not least its fine looks and cabin, but, and it’s a big but, the Volvo's limited engine line-up, and in particular the lack of a diesel offering, allied to relatively high pricing do make things difficult for it in what’s, after all, a very competitive, and price and CO2 sensitive, market.
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Is the Volvo S60 right for you?
Assuming you don’t want a diesel, yes, there’s a lot to like about the Volvo S60.
If you’re bored of in-your-face BMWs, find a Mercedes-Benz too mature and an Audi too obvious, then the S60 is definitely worth considering, though Volvo needs a more expansive model line-up if it’s really going to attract loads of buyers out of such competition.
What’s the best Volvo S60 model/engine to choose?
There are only really two engines presently, and they’re different enough to operate at slightly different ends of the buying, and cost, spectrum. The entry-level model remains the T5 which is powered by a four-cylinder turbocharged petrol engine with 250PS. The next model is a plug-in hybrid which adds a supercharger alongside the turbocharger in the four-cylinder petrol, as well as a 65kW electric motor for a combined 390PS, Volvo badging it T8 Twin Engine.
That same powertrain, albeit tweaked slightly to produce 405PS, heads the range in Volvo’s ‘Polestar Engineered’ guise, Polestar being akin to BMW’s M, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG or Audi’s RS divisions. Those hybrids are expensive, as, currently, is the single petrol choice, but some tax savings can be made with the hybrids, while their potential electric-only range is appealing.
So the T8 Twin Engine AWD Automatic, in R-Design Plus spec (the only trim choice available to it) would get our nod. Just, and even then we’d probably look at the S60’s rivals.
What other cars are similar to the Volvo S60?
The S60 really is a car that can justifiably be mentioned in the same breath as all the obvious premium competition. The Lexus IS is arguably its closest rival thanks to its petrol-only status, but the S60’s plug-in hybrids open it up to a range of rivals, from the Volkswagen Passat GTE to the BMW 330e, and a host of others like the C300e from Mercedes-Benz. Even accounting for the performance the S60 plug-ins offer, against these rivals the Volvo does look expensive.
Volvo picks comfort as a virtue when describing how the car drives – more of which later – but it’s evident inside that it’s been part of the design brief for the cabin, too, it notably more comfortable than its predominantly German, more sporting biased, rivals.
The seats in all are heated, with cushion extensions adding good under thigh support. They're also electrically adjustable, have lumbar support and a memory package to quickly set it back to your preferred driving position. They’re very comfortable, with deep bolstering in the R-Design Plus and Polestar Engineered models holding you in tightly and providing plenty of support. The standard seats in the Inscription Plus models are less heavily bolstered, but are ventilated, with all the S60’s seats finished in soft Nappa leather.
The steering column, meanwhile, adjusts for rake and reach, too, while all versions come with two-zone climate control, so comfort is very good indeed. The design is very pleasing inside, with the S60 being unfussy in its style, while