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A week living with the Volvo S60

The new Volvo S60 is around and it’s serious competition to the likes of the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 and Mercedes-Benz C-Class. However unlike it’s competitors, Volvo have decided to scrap diesel variants from the S60 line-up in favour of a purely petrol and plug-in hybrid range. The results are some quick, low emission motors, but are they up to scratch in terms of comfort and technology? Let’s find out.

Whilst we’re lucky enough to get to test drive a lot of new cars on a regular basis, this was the first time we’ve tested out a car for an extended period of time. Therefore this was our chance to really try out the car, and cover any bases that we sometimes might miss. Our test is pretty simple; What was the Volvo S60 like to live with on a daily basis? How efficient was it? Could we park it easily? And most importantly... did we look forward to driving it every day. 

What we drove:

Model: Volvo S60 Saloon
Model Line: T5 Inscription Plus
Transmission: Automatic FWD
Engine: 2.0 litre Petrol
Colour: Pine Grey
Interior: Charcoal Leather
Wheels: 18” 10-multi spoke (Diamond Cut/Black) Alloys
Optional Extras: Winter Pack, Smartphone Integration & Intellisafe Surround
Power: 250bhp
Emissions: 152 g/km
OTR Price: From £38,285

Design

I think that this new S60 is arguably one of the best looking Saloons out there. The car we drove was an Inscription Plus, which got us 10-spoke 18 inch alloys, a gloss grille with chrome inserts, chrome window surrounds and front aluminum tread plates. You also get a chrome deco lower front bumper, as well as dual intergrated exhaust pipes. As standard the car gets niceties such as folding heated door mirrors, rain sensing wipers, and an electronic tailgate. Our car had the Pine Grey paint, but there a load of different paint options. Although if you have a penchant for bright colours, the boldest you’ll be able to go is red.

Interior

Your interior options are a tan leather called ‘Amber, a rich ‘Maroon Brown’, a pale cream called ‘Blond’ or ‘Charcoal’. Our interior was a mix of the Charcoal soft leather, with gloss finishes and metal mesh inlays as opposed to ‘Driftwood’ or ‘Lime’. The steering wheel felt premium and the controls study and well made. Overall it’s a high-quality cabin, with a nice clean design – nothing too flashy.

The driver and front passenger get heated seats as well as extendable seat cushions which provide a lot more support for longer legs (which unfortunately mine are not). This car also had an optional Winter Pack, which meant we were treated to a heated steering wheel (as well as a heated windscreen and heated washer nozzles), which I imagine would be so helpful in frosty weather - however during our week we only had intervals of rain, cloud and... more rain. It is worth noting that the heated windscreen is unavailable if you choose a car that also has heads-up display, which ours didn’t, but does come as standard on R-Design Plus models.

Comfort and Space

Whilst I spent the majority of my time in the driving seat, we had a few of the team test out the back for space and practicality. Whilst we couldn’t quite justify a road trip to the coast, a trip around the block would have to do. Sam, Lauren and Josh bundled in the back and the first words were “Ooh, it’s cozy!” – not in a bad way though I’m told. Similarities were drawn to the BMW 5-Series which isn't a bad thing at all. The overall consensus was that it was perfectly comfortable for the two passengers in the outer two seats, but the middle seat (in this case Lauren) felt that after half an hour or so it would begin to feel a bit too cramped.

In terms of boot space in numbers it’s 442 litres. I packed for a weekend away and tested out the boot for space – it barely even blinked at a large overnight bag, backpack, laptop bag and a couple of bags for life. There are also a couple of side pockets to keep stuff secure. I would say that the feel of the boot isn’t of the highest quality, apparent when you lift up the boot floor, but it really is a good practical size.

Technology & Connectivity

There’s a large 9 inch vertical touchscreen that controls most of the cars settings. Whilst you can control a few extras like the volume, cruise control or radio using the dials or steering wheel controls, pretty much everything else has to be adjusted using the touchscreen – which some may find to be a bit distracting. The central home button brings up a main screen of 4 options; In this case Sat Nav, Radio, phone and messaging, but this is customisable. Swipe to the left and you get another grid of functions which are highlighted in they are available; Parking Assist etc. Swipe to the right and you can control the cars apps such as Spotify, Apple Car Play or Android Auto. My main thoughts are that the system is really to use, but keep navigation input for when you’re stationary so as not to take your eyes off the road for too long.

Drivers get a 12.3 inch digital display, and as I mentioned, some models also come with Heads-up display which displays information directly on to the windscreen to minimise distraction for the driver. In terms of phone connectivity, we were instructed that the car would find our phones easily, although after trying a couple of times I had to result to searching for the cars Bluetooth via my phone. Which it did without an issue. The quality of the Bluetooth calling was as good as you’d expect, and voice control worked well with a few hiccups here and there.

What was it like to drive?

We wanted this to emulate a standard working week for many. So we made sure it was a week that featured a standard commute, trip to the shops, gym, and a few slightly longer motorway journeys to best emulate that of our customers.

First things first, your engine options with the S60 are either petrol or plug-in hybrid. There are 3 model variants – the ‘Sporty’ R-Deisgn Plus, ‘luxury’ Inscription Plus or ‘performance’ Polestar Engineered. The Inscription Plus model we drove was a 2.0 litre petrol with an 8-speed automatic gearbox and 250 horse power. So even though it’s not the sportiest of the lineup, it’s still certainly packs a punch.

In terms of handling, it was really good and handled corners with ease, even at speed. It accelerated really well, and when you were pulling away gradually it was ridiculously smooth and I didn’t feel any judders between gear changes. However... say you’re going at 50mph and then put your foot down to get to 70mph on a motorway; that’s when there’s a bit of a lag. The car seems pause, and then suddently shift itself. The resulting surge is a bit delayed and loud, but it does soon calm itself down.

This was my first experience driving a saloon car for any extended period of time. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous about the size of the car, and the fact that I wasn’t really sure how confident I’d be parking it. Assured parkers will be more than equipped with the sensors, but for those wanting a bit of extra help I think I’d opt for the optional Xenium Pack if I had the choice, as this gives you a 360 degree parking camera, a panoramic sunroof and also the parking assist pilot.

We took it for a bit of a test down some lanes to see how it tackled the uneven surfaces, and again it handled them really well. It also forced me to reverse a considerable distance without any camera, and I’m happy to say that again it was way less stressful than I expected it to be.

I’d rate visibility a 6/7 out of 10 just due to the small rear windscreen and large columns that can create a couple of blind spots. We’ve got a particularly fast junction to pull out of here at Carparison HQ, and I had my view hindered slightly there – although I certainly had the speed to pull out quickly so no real need to worry.

Of course we always get caught in the commuter traffic, and all that stop/start in some cars can be a bit exhausting, but it really wasn’t in the S60, and the Sat Nav displays real-time traffic information to keep you up to date. I’m not one who loves to drive at night, but I also didn’t find it too stressful in this car. The display wasn’t too bright and the car had automatic (self-cleaning) LED headlights with ‘adaptive shadow technology’ and high beam assistance.

How efficient was it?

We did a total of 223 miles over the course of the working week. We topped up £50.04 at the start of the week when it stated there was 50 miles left in the tank. That £50 brought us back up to 260 miles (although that number did keep changing and at one point I apparently had 310), but I reckon that about £65 would get you a full tank*.

During the week I had one trip to Plymouth and back, which involved a little bit of motorway driving but the majority is dual carriageway. The rest was back and forth through the city, approximately 10 miles a day, with quite a bit of stop/start traffic intermixed. To make it fair, we asked our leasing expert Josh to take the car for an evening, as his commute involves a 70 mile round trip on the motorway, and would give a clearer indication on what the car was like to drive during longer journeys.

I’d like to note that Josh has a slightly heavier right foot than I do, so when I had the keys returned to me the MPG had dropped just below the 30 mark to 29.9mpg. However it can’t be said that I achieved too much better. The car was a 2.0 litre petrol, not designed for fuel economy… but in the end we came back with an average score of 31.9mpg. I asked Josh what his overall thoughts on the car were:

“I thought the S60 was a smooth comfortable drive. It was tipping it down on my drive home but I felt it handled the wet weather conditions well. This one doesn’t get a rear window wiper – just gravity – which is a bit weird to get used to. But overall it was fast, and the power was pretty instantaneous.”

*Estimation based on prices at the time of publication - February 2020.

Safety and Security

In terms of safety the Volvos are renowned, and for good reason as the car comes with an abundance of features. This one also has Intellisafe Surround, which gets you blind spot assistance, steering assistance, cross traffic alerts, autobraking and rear collision mitigation.

The car is designed to assist drivers in emergency situations by straightening the wheels and aiding steering, and it’ll also identify and evade large animals in the road. The blind spot recognition system is one of the best I’ve used, as it not only notifies when a car is in your blind spot, but also several meters before, so you really are never caught out.

Final Verdict

Total Miles Travelled: 223
Claimed MPG: 42.8
Real-Life MPG: 31.9
Safety: 9/10
Efficiency:
6/10
Practicality:
8/10
Technology:
6/10
Comfort: 8/10

I really enjoyed driving this car each day, and what it lacked in technology intuivity, it made up for in quality and design. I like that the model line-up is simple, and you can easily find a car and engine to suit you. The petrol is quick, so the plug-in hybrid models will only be quicker. One thing is for sure; you're bound to have fun in whatever you choose.

If you want to take a look at some of the S60's competition, you can read our review of the best compact saloon cars on the market here.

Like what you see? Take a look at our latest deals on the Volvo S60 here.

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Posted on 20th February 2020 at 4:25 PM

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