Volvo S60 DRIVe
Sprightly yet economical
Out on the open road, Volvo’s determination to poach customers from the likes of Audi and BMW is becoming clear. The new S60 has a much more sporty chassis set-up than the preceding model. The ride is firm but not uncomfortable, and the road manners do nothing to inhibit enthusiastic driving. The excellent brakes make sure you can get out of trouble faster than you got into it.
The gear change is very slick and positive too, but that’s just as well given how often you will be using it. If you are worried about performance, there’s no need: the 0-60 dash is covered in 10.4 seconds and the top speed is 121mph. Neither figure is an embarrassment for a car tuned for economy and low environmental impact rather than speed.
A tidy rear
Volvo’s 115bhp turbo-diesel may be a little more powerful than the Peugeot alternative, but it’s also more of a grumbler. In the 508 you could almost forget you were driving an oil burner - in the S60 that’s a harder trick. It’s a little odd since the basic engine was developed jointly by Ford and Peugeot and is essentially the same in both cars.
Moving away from the sedate and rounded shape of the previous generation of S60, the new car is a crisp and balanced piece of work that has purpose to it while avoiding the overt and irritating visual aggression of some of the German opposition.
Styled like a five-door but only has four
Inside everything is pleasingly Swedish in look but German in build, though the electronic parking brake control would be better located on the centre console rather than to the right of the steering column where a determined lean forward is required to reach it unless you have the arms of a large primate.
The S60 DRIVe range starts at £23,495 but add the SE pack, leather trim, and the few other bits and bobs found on my review car and that will rise to £27,250. That’s better value than the alternative from Audi - the diesel six-speed A4 starts at £26,730 and is a gas guzzler by comparison - but for the money I’m a bit surprised Volvo doesn’t throw a satnav system into the deal.
As a driver’s car, the S60 DRIVe has a lot going for it, including the looks, road manners and a surprisingly sprightly performance for a model tuned for economy rather than speed. But the start/stop system isn't the most advanced one around, and the manual gearbox means your left arm will get plenty of exercise. And Volvo really should have found room for a drivers footrest. ®
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