Volvo’s new S60 sports saloon was launched recently & interestingly, is only being offered with petrol engines. As a bona-fide diesel fan, especially when it comes to premium saloons such as the BMW 3 Series & Mercedes-Benz C Class, this was a bit of a shock, although as I found out, the petrol engine is excellent, offering a great combination of power & fun. The question was, how would it perform on fuel economy ?
We took the opportunity to spend a week in the T5 R Design model, the most likely best seller. It’s turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol engine develops 248bhp & 350Nm of torque, sent to the front wheels through an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
In line with the rest of the current Volvo range, the S60 looks good, both inside & out & is perhaps the brand’s first real competitor to the German cars offered in this sector. The smooth exterior features subtle lines & it looks like across between a 3 Series & Alfa Giulia, which is very good thing. At the back, there’s a small spoiler headlining a tailgate with a distinctive E-shaped set of LED tail-lights. The R-Design bodykit is subtle & our test car featured 18″ double spoke diamond cut black alloys.
Inside, the interior & dashboard have been lifted from the V60 estate. This smacks of quality even if the predominance of black is a little dull. R-Design models do come with subtle blue detailing, which lifts this s little, but you can only have charcoal leather upholstery in the S60. If you want a lighter tone, the alternative is offered in the Inscription model with Nappa leather upholstery as standard.
The clean design of the dashboard is all thanks to Volvo’s Sensus touchscreen, which dominates the dash. It’s portrait shaped & features most, but not all of the functions you’ll need whilst driving. Having experienced this several times, I am now familiar with it’s idiosyncracie’s & really like it, all except the temperature adjustments which are annoying. You can though, circumvent this using the voice command, although this only allows you to adjust the temperature, half a degree at a time, which is a little frustrating.
Sensus offers you the choice of three screens. The screen that is on permanent display, offers the four main options of SatNav, Audio, Phone & Connectivity, in our case, AppleCar Play, with the car’s heating controls at the base. Scroll left to access the Car Function set up screen, where you can turn on or off functions such as lane departure warning or StopStart. Scroll right & you enter the Car Applications menu, with access to the radio, Bluetooth, sound experience & car Apps, such as Spotify.
The dashboard also features Volvo’s design-friendly vertical air vents, which flank the 9″ colour touchscreen infotainment system. In front of the driver is a 12.3″ digital instrument panel which offers up the speedo, rev counter & SatNav, which is standard fit on all S60s. Volvo’s On Call connected services platform is also included as standard, as is a head-up display broadcast onto the windscreen, which can be adjusted to your eye line. R-Design models also feature sports seats & a 15 speaker Bowers & Wilkins premium sound system.
The S60 measures in at 4.76m long & just over 2m wide including mirrors, making it marginally larger than the 3 Series BMW. The front seat passenger’s get decent leg & head room & even those in the rear get plenty of leg room, more it felt to me than you’d find in the Audi A4, BMW 3 Series or Mercedes C-Class. The central seat is slightly raised & there’s a tunnel in the car’s floor, so that’s not the most comfortable seat to be sat in.
Storage wise, there’s two large front door pockets, the rear ones only hold one bottle each, an average glove box & space in-between the front seats for two more drinks, your keys & your phone. This storage area can be covered over as well. Underneath the central armrest is where you’ll find more storage & the 2 USB connections. Rear seats feature storage nets on the back & there’s also a fold out rear armrest with two more cup holders with a shallow storage space underneath. Behind this is a useful ski hatch.
Because the V60 offers 529 litres of storage space, the S60’s 442 litres doesn’t seem too bad. The Boot lip is low & the boot floor flat. For carrying longer loads, you can opt for a Convenience pack, which allows you to fold the rear seats down flat at the touch of a button, enabling loads up to 1.8m to be transported.
On the road, the S60 R-Design is a lot of fun. Acceleration to 62mph take’s just 6.5 seconds, with a top speed of 145mph. You can select from four drive modes; Comfort, Eco or Dynamic, all self explanatory, or choose your own in Individual. Eco is great for the motorway, where at a steady speed we averaged 39mpg.
Take in some country B roads & select Dynamic & you can have more fun. The R-Design chassis allows for swift steady progress through the corners & the tyres grip the road well. There is a tendency to oversteer & the ride is a little harsh over imperfect roads, but otherwise it doesn’t disappoint. The paddles behind the steering wheel allow for manual gear selection, but I found they delayed rather than enhanced the eight-speed box.
For the company car driver, CO2 emissions are 152g/km, BIK is from £212 a month & fuel economy is 35.3-39.8mpg, measured on the new WLTP system. In truth, a week in the S60 driving mainly in Eco mode, saw us average only 32.9 mpg. A glance back at our V60 diesel drive from 2018, uncovered a motorway return of 50 mpg & an around town figure of 42mpg, so the T5 whilst an awful lot quicker & far more enjoyable to drive than the diesel V60, will see you average around 10mpg less than you’d average in the equivalent diesel offered on the V60. Food for thought.
From a purely driving perspective, I couldn’t fault the S60. I spent a hugely enjoyable week in it & wanted more when it went back to Volvo. The interior is fantastic, the Sensus infotainment system is classy & it’s packed with more safety equipment than you can shake a stick at. It really is a contender when put up again the models offered by the German’s & comes with equal best in class residuals of 46% after 3 years & 30,000 miles.
From a fleet perspective, I understand why there isn’t a diesel version, Brexit, diesels slated etc…but I don’t necessarily think that this was the right decision, especially if you’re driving 10,000 miles a year or above.
If you’re sold on a Volvo & want a car that is more likely to offer you 50mpg, there’s always the V60 diesel, which is also one of the best estates in it’s class
A striking saloon 4/5