The compact executive saloon market has always, and continues to be, a competitive one and many of its key players have recently gone under extensive transformations.
With the BMW 3 Series coming early next year, we get behind the wheel of Volvo’s latest version of the S60 which was revealed earlier on in 2018.
Built on the Volvo Scalable Platform – like the XC90 and V90 – the S60 is the first model to be built at the Swedish brand’s new factory in Charleston, South Carolina.
But can the latest version of the compact S60 be a credible competitor in the executive segment? We take a look…
Our test car was fitted with the top-end T8 powertrain, which is engineered by Volvo’s performance sub-brand Polestar and pairs a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre, four-cylinder petrol engine with a rear-mounted electric motor. The two power packs combine to develop 399bhp and 430Nm of torque – meaning the S60 can go from standstill to 60mph in just 4.5 seconds and reach a top speed of 155mph.
The two units mix well and offer a smooth power delivery that is predictable and seamless. The electric unit allows for instant acceleration, thanks to its high levels of torque, with the petrol engine kicking in for that extra grunt soon after.
Ride & Handling
Trying both the T6 and T8 versions of the S60 gave us a better idea of what the model is like, and we judged that the steering was direct and of a good weight, but lacked feedback – with this mainly down to the electric power steering many cars come with nowadays.
The ride was also quite firm for a Volvo, but with 20-inch alloys that is to be expected. The T8 was the firmer of the two as it does come with a sportier setup, but many of the standard and mid-spec options will be comfortable enough with a set of 18-inch alloys.
Interior & Equipment
We tried the S60 before the full specification for the UK was released, so we’re still in the dark on the exact level of equipment you’ll be getting with the S60 options. In this version, though, we found the nine-inch Sensus infotainment touchscreen as with all recent Volvos, as well as Nappa leather upholstery, a Bowers and Wilkins sound system and a digital instrument display – giving the whole car a high-end finish.
What is guaranteed from the S60 is an array of safety systems, as Volvo continues to lead the motoring world with the amount of assistance technology it puts on-board its vehicles. The city safety setup comes as standard, which can auto brake the car in case of a potential collision at slower speeds with cyclists and pedestrians, as well as run-off road mitigation and oncoming lane mitigation. Cross traffic alert and pilot assist are both optional, with many other pieces of equipment available.
The build quality of recent Volvo models has been excellent, and that has been carried through to the S60 as well. The top-level materials paired to the sleek technology make the interior of the S60 a very nice place to be. You can expect this throughout the S60 range when it’s finally launched to the market.
Storage is also quite good, as the boot offer 442 litres of space – although this is smaller than the rival Mercedes C-Class, which has 480 litres of boot space with the rear seats in the upright position.
For the Polestar Engineered version, Volvo fits uprated suspension, brakes and suspension for a sportier driving experience – with the engine also given a 15bhp power boost over the standard T8 power unit.See Available S60 Deals
Although official pricing hasn’t been confirmed yet, you can expect prices to start at around £28,000 for the base spec S60 – which is par for the executive saloon course. The prices for the T8 Polestar Engineered version we tested weren’t revealed either, but considering the equipment and powertrain on-board we estimate it costs around £50,000.
As the T8 is a hybrid, Volvo claims it can achieve 134mpg and just 48g/km CO2, which is impressive for an executive saloon with potent performance.
It’s safe to say that even though the design is very similar to many of its siblings in the Volvo line-up, it is yet another great car to come from the Swedish manufacturer. We suspect that even in the base-spec the S60 will offer enough to considerably unsettled its German rivals, and with good economy and performance from the T8 Polestar Engineered, we’d even recommend having a look at the top-end option – even if the price is a bit steep. If you’re in the market for a saloon at the start of 2019, the S60 should be very near the top of your list of options.