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Volvo S60 Saloon engines, drive and performance

2019 - 2023 (change model)
Performance rating: 3.5 out of 53.5

Written by Murray Scullion Published: 18 April 2023 Updated: 18 April 2023

  • Only two engines to choose from
  • Petrol or PHEV
  • No diesel

Petrol engine

If you’re looking for a low-powered or diesel-engined S60, you’re right out of luck. The range kicks off with the B5. It has a generous 250hp to play with and a 0-62mph time of 6.5 seconds. It’s relatively fast, but more importantly, completely effortless.

Overtaking on a quiet b-road is completed without fuss, and getting up to speed on a slip road is done with bags of room to spare. It sits at 70mph + on the motorway near silently, and when moving to the fast lane the 60-80mph sprint is dispatched serenely.

It’s an efficient and agreeable performer. But its engine note is a little flat and it ultimately lacks the final degrees of engagement that the BMW 3 Series and Jaguar XE are better known for.

Grey Volvo S60 Saloon front three-quarter driving 2019
B5 models may be the least powerful, but they still get 250hp.

Plug-in hybrid

As you’d expect from the range’s flagship, performance is rapid, with a 0-62mph time of 4.6 seconds and 455hp on tap. Like the B5, it’s lacking an interesting soundtrack, but you can forgive it for that, thanks to instant and devastating throttle response in the low and mid-range. It’s a quick and useful way of getting from one end of a country to the other. Keen drivers who love to rev a car out to its rev-limiter will be left disappointed as it feels all out of power at around 6,000rpm.

To get that heady horsepower rating you’ll need to utilise the electric batteries. Rest assured, if you continually use this mode the batteries will deplete pretty quickly, and you’ll be left with just the 310hp petrol engine.

Essentially, the petrol engine powers the front wheels, and the electric system powers the rears, giving the car four-wheel-drive.

It’s an interesting and green performance saloon that’s just lacking the character of an Audi RS 4 or BMW M3. It is better to use and more comfortable than the aforementioned however.

What’s it like to drive?

  • Surefooted, if not exciting, handling
  • Limited body roll and excellent body control
  • Comfortable on the motorway

Body roll is kept reasonably in check, although like the V60 Estate it’s so closely related to, it doesn’t corner quite as flatly (or with as much verve) as a BMW 3 Series or Jaguar XE. Saying that, it rarely disappoints unless that’s your primary reason for buying a car of this kind.

It points and steers very effectively, and is more than capable of cracking on quickly and efficiently when you’re on A- and B-roads. In tight bends, it’ll do the B-road thing without disgracing itself, and you’ll enjoy its unfussed and relaxed overall demeanour.

Grey Volvo S60 Saloon rear three-quarter driving 2019
All models come with surefooted all-wheel drive.

Standard brakes are excellent, delivering plenty of stopping power and decent feel on all models. This is not an easy feat for the plug-in hybrid T8, as it has regenerative braking to contend with. This is where the electric motor helps to slow the car down, in addition to the mechanical brakes and helps to charge the batteries in the process.

It’s clever and good for economy, and with some other cars it does mean that you can never be certain just how hard you need to press the brake pedal, because it depends on how much regeneration the car needs. But with the T8 the feedback through the pedal is always similar and you can be sure how much force you need to give.

Motorway users will find that the S60 glides over the worst blemishes with ease, but around town cars on larger wheels will transmit the deepest of ruts into the cabin.