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You've probably come round to thinking of a Volvo because you want something renowned for its solid realiability and with one foot in the prestige market.
I came round to it when I left home fully intending to come back with a Saab but arrived with a Volvo S60.
The recent Volvo push to design much more desirable cars certainly started with this car and the most recent cars are truly pushing up to the rear bumper of mercedes in style and quality but with a little more restraint and elegance.
The S60's four-door coupe styling still looks good even though it's been around for a few years now and is on the verge of being replaced. And the interior and dash of more recent models are made from quality materials - mine has very fine ali-style metalwork with a discreet network pattern woven through it.
So the thing looks good has some desirability but what's it like in action and to live with?
The interior is fine - not a mercedes - but absolutely fine. The most comfortable place I've parked by much-sat-upon rear end for a long time.
The body work and panels have all somehow got that extra quality look about them that sets it up a notch from most mid-range cars. Don't know how this comes about - but it does. (Lovely touch on opening the doors with a nice shiney silver volvo logo on the scuffplate- little things can mean a lot).
Everything inside has an executive feel to it - good radio, heating, controls, sunvisors with little illuminated mirrors. Even the boot's quite nice but does have a small opening and it's something of a tunnel. You can get a reasonable amount in it but you might have to don your miner's helmet to delve in and get it back out. (seats fold flat and peek -a-boo flap for long thin items)
So, it looks good and it feels good to be around. Driving the thing at first was was a surprise. As I'd opted for a 2.4 diesel 185bhp D5 and thought it might be a little mellow to sat the least. Oh no, this thing is sprightly, it can really shift and hardly a suggestion of it being a diesel in sound or performance. It eats motorways and in 6th gear the petrol consumption is low: the high point for me. This really does do the mileages claimed for it. Sixty plus mpg on a lvery ong run (and this is not a small car or engine) and easy forty plus generally pootling about.
143mph top speed And 8.3 0-60mph. I remember when XR3 escorts were out and regarded as really hot; they were slower than this!
Using the in-car computer you can see when it uses most or least petrol, so try and avoid pulling away from stationary or going uphill and you'll almost get a petrol refund.
I've had the car over a year now and as for general wear and tear these are the only things Ive noticed:
Front tyres seem to be wearing quicker than rears - typical for a front wheel drive car.
Bulbs do go a bit more often than normal cars - lights on all the time, you see. I bought a replacement headlamp bulb and it doesn't look as bright as the original one on the other side; fine for driving at night can't see a difference it just looks dimmer as you look at the car - this really annoys me. Don't buy the cheapest bulbs!
If you want to buy top-up engine oil for this late-2006 model I can't seem to find it anywhere (including Halfords) only at Volvo dealers.
It would appear now with cars going much longer between services they all seem to have special engine specific oils that are quite expensive.
But this D5 diesel engine (D5 = 5 cylinders) is remarkable and worth looking after. Though I myself think 18,000 is along time for car not to be given the once over and will have my faithful mechanic pal give it the once over mid-way between services.
Summary: in the right colour looks as modern and prestigious as a BMW with out the whiff of naffness. Goes like stink, excellent mpg, comfortable,roomy, just makes you feel good to drive it. So far seems to as reliable as anything out there. ( now covered 64,000 mls).
You're getting a lot of car for the money.
Right up front I am going to confess that I am writing this as a slightly frustrated non-Volvo S60 driver. Strange statement that don't you think? But there we are, out here in the big bad world we do not always get what we want
.and we (Mrs Richada and I) really wanted a Volvo S60, but not as it happens, this the most powerful 220bhp 2.4 litre T5 Sport version.
15 years ago I would have not looked at a Volvo fullstop. However if the S60 had then been on the market, this the fastest one would have been my natural choice.
Maturity and certain financial commitments now mean that I am inclined to make far more rational choices when it comes to choosing a car, no matter if I pay for it, or is currently the case, I have a free choice of company car within a given budget.
Part of my maturity also gives me pangs of conscience at the idea of running any car that is not capable of driving at least 30 miles on each gallon of fuel, day in and day out, under all driving conditions. I'm no "save the planet" fanatic, I just honestly believe that here in 2005 there are so many superb motorised choices available which can offer you a very good drive and make the best use of our declining oil stock.
How does a Volvo S60 review fall in with the above thinking? Well Volvo are actually a highly enlightened company when it comes to power choices for their stylish upper-mid range four door saloon. There are three choices of petrol engines, starting at a perfectly adequate 180bhp 2.0 litre (31.7mpg average consumption - pretty good), through a 217bhp 2.5 litre (31mpg) to this the 220bhp 2.4 litre, which according to Volvo will still average a highly respectable 30.4mpg.
Those Volvo aficionados reading this are going to tell you that I have missed three models out here. Firstly there is the much more specialised and rare road burning S60R which has 252bhp and four wheel drive, I have not actually driven one of those, but trust the opinion of the writers who have and take their word for it that I would not enjoy the experience.
View if you like, the S60R as the ideal car for the type of customer who pays £3000 for a top of the range PC and all the accessories to go with it and then proceeds to use it exclusively to do their weekly Tesco shop on line! In other words, it is the car for someone who just has to have the most expensive version available.
More relevant for those company car drivers amongst us are the other two options Volvo are offering - the dual fuel versions. You can order a 2.4 S60 with an engine that runs on CNG (Compressed Natural Gas - difficult to find in the UK) and another set up to run on LPG (Liquid Petroleum Gas - now becoming much more widely available). This is rather a swings and roundabouts exercise, both of these models are naturally more expensive than the simpler petrol version, they do have petrol tanks as well as suitable (very important this!) FACTORY INSTALLED gas containers. This makes them heavier, slower and less economical than the straight petrol version.
My advice would be that if you are looking at a petrol S60, do not look any further than the "base" 180bhp model, it is rapid, refined and surprisingly economical .
..Trouble is the very best S60 does not have any form of petrol engine - it has a superb 5 cylinder diesel one under the bonnet!
If you fancy the look of Volvo's S60, and why not it is a very good looking car, go buy it, the D5 it's called, 45mpg, fantastic performance and you would never know driving it that there is a diesel engine under the bonnet. In early 2006, the S60 latest 6 speed gearbox, uprated 185bhp D5 would be my ideal real world car, money no object, this is the car that Mrs Richada and I would be covering our large annual mileage in.
Sorry, this review now goes back to the start, you now know the conclusion on my Volvo S60 buying advice so it will save you reading the rather tedious review of the S60 T5 Sport, which you already know I consider NOT to be the optimum model in the range.
So, please feel free to click rating below now or to read on .
All of the engines in the S60 have five cylinders, no matter how they are fuelled, and at 220bhp and averaging over 30mpg the 2.5 litre 220bhp T5 that we are driving here must rate as one of the most efficient petrol engined cars of all time.
From recent experience however, manufacturers figures generally being so highly optimistic, I know that in the real world you will have to drive with such great restraint to achieve anywhere near their claimed figures, that in the real world I would be lucky to get 27mpg from one of these over my 30,000 annual miles. That is why the diesel would be my choice, I have assured myself from a two day test drive and speaking to drivers of this car that 45mpg under varied driving conditions is readily achievable.
However that version of the S60 is not the subject of this review!
This review is based on driving this particular S60 at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire, at the Company Car in Action event where we were privileged guests, pretty much able to test drive anything on the market today. In previous years I have tried several Volvos, all in fact diesels, S80's and S60's with manual or automatic transmissions. The S60 D5 will be subject of a dedicated future review as I have many more hundreds of miles experience with that to tell you about!
Last year dished up the ideal weather conditions in which to try that most reassuring of marques Volvo! The rain lashed down and there were force 6 side winds blowing. For me these are absolutely the best conditions in which to thoroughly test any car, if you like it in truly rotten weather conditions then you are not going to dislike it when the sun shines!
Before arriving we had actually made a conscious decision not to drive an S60 at Millbrook this year. Having chosen the S60 D5 as a replacement for my four and a half year old 105,000 mile Omega and then having had no choice but to buy then new Honda Accord Diesel on purely financial grounds, we did not wish to experience what we were missing!
However, on the Volvo stand sat a newly face lifted S60 Sport (a new model designation) in their latest colour, a pale metallic gold. It was the most powerful front wheel drive one available - the T5, the only S60, apart from the S60R, not so far driven. As it was free to drive when we approached the Volvo stand it seemed a shame not to try it.......
.......A very minor face lift this one, a nip and tuck around the bumpers but otherwise, new "Lunar Gold" paint job apart, this looks very similar to last years model. Inside, we both agreed that the "Sport" trim very much suited the S60 and preferred it to the all leather SE models previously tried. This one had a pale interior, half leather, half alcantara (a soft but very practical suede like material), a hard wearing yet attractive combination. Substituting the wood trim (now optional on all models) for "alloy mesh" has modernised the interior considerably too. Otherwise the controls and instruments are just the same as before - excellent, probably the best dashboard and ergonomics available at any price, we felt more at home in here than in any other car driven today, including ironically the Honda.
Out on the road I am no longer convinced that this car is preferable to the Honda. Yes, the seats have the edge in comfort and I would also give the driving position a couple of extra percentage points, but actually on the move the Volvo, certainly in T5 form feels less precise, less dynamic to drive. In the tight confines of the car park it feels larger, more unwieldy, mostly due to the much poorer lock, but it also feels like a substantially larger car - which it isn't.
Head onto the hill route, remembering that there are 110 more horses under this bonnet than in the diesel Honda and you find that it is slower to change direction into the bends, rolls more appreciably and actually proves no faster on the road. This really should not have been too much of a surprise as the torque characteristics between the S60 T5 and Accord diesel are much more closely matched.
For driver and passengers the ride is more forgiving in the Volvo, it is less inclined to crash over poor surfaces, this is actually a rare car in that it rides better at all times than it handles. On the ride front, doubly impressive is that it rolls along on very low profile tyres, usually the kiss of death to a decent ride. Volvo got around this by actually styling AND engineering the S60 around big wheels and "rubber band" tyres in the first place.
If like us you appreciate the S60's styling, you can thank Peter Horbury, an Englishman for it!
The S60's five cylinder petrol engine is certainly no quieter mechanically than the Honda diesel four cylinder, it feels less torquey (flexible) in terms of poer delivery too although that could well be due to the S60's extra weight. On the acceleration run up to 100mph, 12 cylinder 6.0 litre Phaeton apart, it got there noticeably more quickly than anything driven on the day. You could feel a real push in the back once the turbo started blowing strongly. At 100mph it slipped through the air very quietly, all S60's driven have impressed on that score - all are supremely comfortable long distance cars.
Yes it is another car that I would gladly jump into and drive to Poland tomorrow. However as already stated, this is not the model of S60 that I would chose to do this journey in.
For all purposes the five cylinder diesel remains the pick of this range. In the real world it has an unbeatable blend of comfort, refinement, performance and especially economy. It remains my practical "ideal car" choice and for the £29,933 -with options fitted to this car - (almost £10,000 more than a similarly sized Honda Accord!) asking price of the T5 I could have a very fully specified D5 - in fact I'd save nearly £2000 even having specified the "bi-xenon" pack option.
The Volvo S60 range starts at £19,995 for the 2.0 T S and tops out at £34,568 for the 2.5 T R AWD. The S60 being now a fairly "old" model, launched in 2001, there are hefty discounts available on all of these models, up to around £4000 on the mid-range D5 models.