The Volvo S60 piles on the style, but lacks the extensive engine and trim line-up of the highly-rated V60 estate

If you want to opt for something different to the BMW, Mercedes and Audi trio that dominate the executive saloon class, the S60 is one of your best options, although it’s no better than those three. While Volvo has worked its magic with the V60 estate, the S60 boasts limited appeal purely because Volvo is concentrating on sporty petrol variants and the plug-in hybrid.

As a premium proposition it ticks all the boxes - this is a well executed, upmarket car capable of convincing you away from the German mainstream. The firm suspension setup is rather one-dimensional when compared to the BMW 3 Series, though, which is better to drive while still being more comfortable. We’d recommend looking beyond R-Design to the Inscription model as this should be a more rounded and appealing model, suitable for a broader number of buyers.

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Volvo S60 T5 R-Design Edition

The new Volvo S60 is for sale in the tough compact executive saloon market. And with R-Design and Polestar models being offered from launch, Volvo is aiming to deliver a sporty drive with its new saloon. It also brings to a close a rapid renewal of the firm’s entire line-up: since 2015 we’ve seen new XC90, XC60 and XC40 SUVs, fresh S90 and V90 flagships and the S60’s sister, the V60 estate, too.

Rivals for the S60 include the usual suspects: the BMW 3 Series, Mercedes C-Class, Audi A4 and Jaguar XE. The Alfa Romeo Guilia is another less obvious alternative, as are the Lexus IS hybrid and upmarket VW Arteon. For the money, you could even go for the all-electric Tesla Model 3.

Many buyers will be attracted by the S60’s sharp design. It looks less boxy than the larger S90, and the low roof and familiar Volvo design cues have resulted in a very attractive saloon car shape. Add in Volvo’s trademark Swedish design inside, as well as the tech-packed interior, and the S60 could win sales simply on its looks alone.

S60 gets plenty right on the move, but sporty R-Design suspension leaves some questions to be asked
The plug-in hybrid will be cheap to run, but has a high list price
The S60 feels like a supremely high quality car and will be a hit with the style conscious
The Volvo S60 boasts average practicality and space, but don’t think of it as pokey. Rivals offer a better blend and ride better.
The Volvo S60 is one of the safest compact executive cars available

The best executive cars to buy now

Unlike the V60, there are no diesel engines in the S60 range. The entry point to the range is the T5 petrol, which uses a 248bhp 2.0-litre turbo four-cylinder petrol engine. Despite the S60 being marketed as a sports saloon, drive goes to the front axle, not the rear, and there’s an eight-speed automatic gearbox with paddle shifters are mounted on the steering wheel. This comes in either R-Design Plus or Inscription Plus trims at the moment, with no S60 Momentum currently offered.

There’s also a T8 Twin Engine plug-in hybrid, which uses the same hybrid drive system as the larger S80, so it packs 385bhp and delivers searing straight-line performance, as well as low company car costs. At the moment that only comes in R-Design trim, while the Polestar Engineered model has the same T8 driveline, but power is boosted to 399bhp.

Last updated: 
3 May, 2019