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View all Volvo S60 reviews
Parkers overall rating: 4.3 out of 5 4.3

Volvo's 3 Series rival is more than just a leftfield choice

Volvo S60 Saloon (19 on) - rated 4.3 out of 5
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PROS

  • Sleek saloon is distinguished by its attractive styling
  • Interior looks good and is spacious compared with rivals
  • R-Design handling is sportier and has fine body control

CONS

  • Keen drivers might miss last degree of involvement
  • Range limited to petrol and plug-in hybrid versions
  • Longer-distance drivers may miss a diesel option

PROS

  • Sleek saloon is distinguished by its attractive styling
  • Interior looks good and is spacious compared with rivals
  • R-Design handling is sportier and has fine body control

CONS

  • Keen drivers might miss last degree of involvement
  • Range limited to petrol and plug-in hybrid versions
  • Longer-distance drivers may miss a diesel option

Volvo S60 Saloon rivals

After the strong performance of the Volvo V60 estate and XC60 SUV, we’ve been expecting great things from their saloon-bodied cousin. In short, the Mk3 Volvo S60 needs to be good if it’s going to break the stranglehold of the Audi A4, Mercedes-Benz C-Class and BMW 3 Series Saloons.

And Volvo isn’t alone at wanting to beat the German premium market establishment. To that aim, the S60 will have to see off other impressive rivals such as the Alfa Romeo Giulia, Jaguar XE and Lexus ES – all cars that have strong USPs and image to match. The good news for Volvo is that in its latest generation of models, it’s been able to tick those boxes.

Volvo says that the new US-built S60 saloon is good enough to disrupt this market sector, and it’s easy to see why. It looks disarmingly handsome inside and out, and it’s a company first (well, one in a very long time) in being unavailable with diesel engines. So far, only Lexus offers this non-diesel approach in this market sector.

Maximising design, technology and safety

One area where Volvo is doing so well is in its styling. All of its current models look handsome and interesting, and the S60 continues the theme, thanks its sharp-V60 like front end, which combines with flowing flanks and almost Jaguar-like haunches. It’s topped off by a truncated boot for a sporty profile – something BMW has long-mastered with the 3 Series.

These looks are a real departure for the company that’s made such a name in recent years with its SUVs and estates. These curves might be un-Volvo like, but the headlight signatures, grille and rear lights bring it all back into line – so as not to scare the traditionalists too much – and after spending extended time with the S60, its looks just get better with familiarity.

Safety remains a strong point, and although the S60's not been specifically tested by Euro NCAP, it shares the closely-related V60's five-star rating. Included in its safety regime - as of 2020 - the S60's top speed will be limited to 112mph. It's part of Volvo's Vision 2020 scheme - the aim of which is to not have an occupant of a Volvo car to be seriously injured or killed.

No diesels, but tell us more about what engines are on offer

Volvo S60 interior

Available to order in high-spec guises only, the S60 is currently only available in T5 petrol form with 250hp and a T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid. This boasts an impressive 405hp from its petrol/electric with a potential electric-only range of 30 miles, providing you don't maximise its grunt.

Volvo says that an entry-level T4 boasting 190hp should join the range in 2020, and it's looking to extend its plug-in hybrid range with the 320hp T6 Twin Engine model – but won't confirm when that's coming to the UK. We've already driven that one in the USA, and concluded that it's flawed but appealing.

Inside, it's familiar territory for anyone who's driven a V60 or XC60, with the same mix of interesting trims and materials, light and airy design, and the large, portrait-format infotainment screen. For now, the model range looks simple: Inscription Plus (T5 only), R-Design Plus and Polestar Engineered (T8 only).

Grey Volvo S60 Saloon side profile

Why no diesel? Officially it's because it's not a popular fuel option in the USA where the S60's built, whereas the European V60, which sells better here, does come with diesel options. However, sales of diesels are declining as emissions legislation tightens and the cost of electrified powertrains become cheaper. Volvo's rather ahead of the curve in this regard.

Is it a good company car with no diesel option?

The numbers aren't great, but as Volvo says, the S60 is more likely to appeal to private buyers. The T5 R-Design Plus's CO2 figure is 155g/km and sits in the 34-35% tax bracket. But Volvo is predicting strong resale values, which makes it decently cheap in personal lease and PCP deals.

However, the T8s are pricier for private buyers, but being a PHEV you'll get a headline-grabbing CO2 figure of 45g/km, which means it encourages 16% BIK – so expect them to start appearing  in a company car park near you soon.

What's it like to drive?

Needless to say, it's an accomplished effort that's surprisingly different to drive to its V60 estate cousin. In T5 R-Design form, it's planted and composed, feeling pretty much the fully-rounded sports saloon.

Volvo S60 rear light and badge detail

It's not perfect. Even in the most sporting drive mode, the gearchange can sometimes be slow to respond, leaving keen drivers almost obliged to use paddleshifters when overtaking or pressing on. It’s quiet and unobtrusive, though, but a downside is that the four-cylinder engine sounds dull, and doesn’t really encourage spirited driving.

The T8 Polestar Engineered is a big upgrade over the standard S60, and in many ways, a viable alternative to established performance saloons, such as the BMW M340i and Mercedes-AMG C 43. You get sharp steering, grippy, four-wheel drive traction, sublime body control and lots of ability. It still feels a heavy car, with all the issues that come with that, but far less leaden than the standard S60, and you should be able to have some fun when it comes to it.

Volvo S60 Saloon rivals

Other Volvo S60 models: