Volvo S60 D3
The Volvo S60 has always offered a very feasible alternative to the usual suspects in the segment; BMW‘s 3 Series, Mercedes‘ C-Class and Audi‘s A4. It looks good both inside and out, is obviously as safe as 10 rows of Northern European houses, but it always just fell short in terms of driving satisfaction and refinement.
Volvo are in the process of revamping their entire range of power plants, though. MY16 cars will also see hybrid power introduced across the fleet, but for now there’s some new petrols and diesels to bring things up to speed (badged T or D respectively).
We’re testing the Volvo S60 D3 – a new 4-cylinder unit producing 150bhp and 320Nm torque that emits either 102g/km Co2 in manual guise or 110g/km when linked to Volvo‘s new 6-speed Geartronic ‘box, as our test car is.
Less is most definitely more in this case and the new engine is streets ahead of the old 5-cylinder unit it’s replaced. It’s smoother, quieter and more eager to respond whilst remaining more than happy to cruise unruffled for mile after mile of motorway.
The Volvo S60’s new 6-speed Geartronic ‘box is possibly even more of a triumph than the engine it’s attached to, though. Where the last generation of autos were jumpy and uninspiring, and the manual alternative felt like an afterthought, this ‘box is a pleasure to just leave to its own devices. For an extra £150, you can even opt for a pair of neat, shiny paddles to change gear with, but I wouldn’t bother as they don’t suit the car’s character – I wouldn’t be that keen to utilise the box’s ‘sport’ mode either for the same reason.
It’s not just the Volvo S60’s powertrain that’s seen improvement, either – the suspension’s been tinkered with to make for a more direct feel around bends. Our test car was fitted with an optional Lowered Sports Chassis (£500) and 19” Portia alloys (£1,325) meaning it rode on the firmer side of supportive. These are obviously fitted at your discretion, though and the standard car will still be more dynamic than the last gen which was very comfortable but had a tendency to wobble around.
Volvo are always at the forefront of safety technology, but the more exciting side of driving like engines and cornering ability usually take a back seat. The S60’s recent improvements make for a more satisfying experience altogether, whilst keeping economy and emissions relevant in a very competitive segment.
By Ben Harrington
Specifications; Volvo S60 D3 Geartronic SE Lux Nav, Engine – 2.0l 4 cylinder diesel, Transmission – 6 spd automatic, Layout – Front engine, FWD, Power – 150BHP, Torque – 320Nm, Emissions – 110g/km CO2, Economy – 67.3 mpg combined, Maximum Speed – 134mph, Acceleration – 9.0s 0-62mph, Price – £30,895 OTR, £41,105 as tested (S60 range is available from £21,005)
The Volvo S60 is available now. For full details go to; www.volvocars.com