Home / Auto / Volvo S60 2019 REVIEW – Sports saloon leads the pack in design but lacks thrills

Volvo S60 2019 REVIEW – Sports saloon leads the pack in design but lacks thrills


Summary: It is safe, stylish and comfortable but it’s not going to set your pulse racing. 

Pros: Gorgeous design, refined and comfortable interior, safe

Cons: Slight lag in power, pricey, not terribly exciting

DRIVING IMPRESSIONS

DESIGN

The S60’s design is gorgeous. It’s sharp, precise and executive. It looks like a premium vehicle and feels like one too. Volvo has executed this car exquisitely with the one drawback potentially being the logo on the front grille, something about it isn’t seamless or satisfying as some of the other models own the range such as the XC40. This is of course nitpicking as the design of this vehicle sheerly outclasses most of its rivals and looks somewhat more aggressive and dominant in the metal. 

A standout feature is the lights. Volvo’s T-shape Thor Hammer inspired headlights are potentially the best looking of any car on the road and the rear almost pinser-like lights are also really cleanly designed. 

This is now arguably the segment leader in the looks department. 

INTERIOR

Inside the car is classic Volvo – which is a very good thing. It’s refined smart and doesn’t have too many distracting bells or whistles or superfluous buttons or knobs. At the heart of the dashboard is a nine-inch portrait touchscreen display, the Sensus system seen on all Volvos. It is responsive, snappy, bright and cleanly laid out, which is a huge bonus.

It has a dedicated page for driver assistance systems which makes them a, easier to understand and b, easier to operate. So often carmakers bury these options in complicated menus or behind little symbols that look like hieroglyphics.

Volvo has made the system very intuitive and it even has Android Auto and Apple CarPlay integration to allow smartphone connectivity on the go and is among the better ones on offer. 

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: LUKE JOHN SMITH)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO )

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

One criticism of this system is that perhaps too many features that use the system. To change the heat you have to click on the seat icon and drag. This is by no means difficulties won’t make you look away from the road for too long but a tactile dial may make more sense in this instance. 

It is, however, a gorgeously styled car which looks and feels premium with mostly soft-touch materials inside the car.

There are a few cheaper plastics on the transmission column and on the doors in places but on the whole, the blend of plastic, metal, and soft touch foam-like material is executed really well.

This is where cars like the previous generation XE let themselves down because JLR seemed to cut a few corners inside the vehicle. 

The absolute surprise delight of the interior is the inclusion of a three-point plug point in the rear of the car. This is an incredibly handy feature if you need to charge your phone, laptop or tablet while moving. 

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

TECHNOLOGY & CONNECTIVITY

The car’s Pilot Assist gives it some helpful additions which include lane keeping assist with auto steering which can be programmed to a certain number of car lengths before or behind it.

It does a good job of keeping a handle on the car and can assist with those long motorways slogs but you still need to keep your hands on the wheel to prevent any accents if it misreads road markings or cannot detect where it is on the road. 

In addition to the Sensus infotainment system, there is also a 12.3-inch active TFT driver information display which shows normal driving functions such as speed and revs.

One addition you may want to consider is the head-up display which shows you the speed your travelling, speed limit, and even the navigation directions.

It’s the safest and most convenient way to receive this information when driving. Volvo’s On Call app allows you to control various car functions from a smartphone app and also works as an emergency tracker.

The rearview camera is a handy feature and nice and clear on the display with the reversing lines and the heated seats are also a nice bonus. 

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

POWER

The vehicle is pitched as a sports saloon and powered by the T5 petrol engine which boasts a generous 250 bhp it seems perfectly placed to take on cars such as the BMW 3 Series. However, something about this label doesn’t add up when you’re behind the wheel. 

It feels fairly powerful but it hasn’t got the same zip or snappiness as some of its rivals or even some hatchbacks. There is a slight lag from the automatic transmission when you put your foot down before it accelerates off. 

If you need that instant boost of power, you have to compensate for this due to the lag but it handles incremental speed increases well. The transmission is occasionally a little bit all over the place and seems unsure of what gear it needs to be in.

It has power but it isn’t unruly or awe-inspiring. It doesn’t goad you to put the throttle down like the Jaguar XE might. It is much more at home and makes more sense as a cruiser. Something you can drive effortlessly for miles and not get tired or feel fatigued. It’s an incredibly competent machine but it isn’t necessarily sporty. 

If priced competitively the plug-in hybrid might be the golden child of the range. If it has impressive mpg and doesn’t pack on too many pounds from the extra motor and battery then it could be an awesome machine. 

The S60 will average around 35mpg to 39mpg which is fine but if this was closer to 50mpg the whole car would make more sense. 

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

HANDLING

Volvo says that this is the best handling car they’ve ever made – and they’re right. It feels more involved and the steering isn’t as light as cars such as the XC40. This is a good thing but just because it is their best handling car it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is a phenomenally handling car. 

The steering isn’t as light as it is in the Volvos such as the XC40 but it does feel a little soft sometimes. This, of course, is fine but it is not the most engaging driving experience and there is almost a distance between the car and the driver. The feeling of driving the car is good and comfortable due to how competent the vehicle is but it’s perhaps a bit too sensible. The driving position is solid and gives you plenty of support around the corners at speed but you do feel the roll more in the passenger seat. 

There are a number of driving modes – Eco, Comfort, Individual and Dynamic – which change the suspensions, throttle response and other features on the car depending on the need of the driver.

Eco aims to conserve fuel, Comfort is good for every day, Individual allows you to engage your own preferences and Dynamic is a more sporty focused mode. 

Dynamic mode firms up the suspensions and the steering does actually feel a little more involved and is certainly the most fun driving mode to engage. 

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

VERDICT

We found it really difficult to place this car. Volvo claims that it is the best handling car they have made, which is absolutely true but it doesn’t handle as well or perhaps isn’t as exhilarating as some of its rivals. It’s supremely competent and does feel powerful if you put the foot down but it is perhaps most at home as a cruiser. It is a car that can chunk away miles and has driver assistance features to help you do that and its cabin is comfortable and refined.

If you want a great looking, refined and safe car then this is among the best options available but if you want a fun and thrilling driving experience then you should look elsewhere. 

Ultimately, it is a very sensible car and that’s not going to appeal to everyone. 

4/5

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: VOLVO)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: LUKE JOHN SMITH)

Volvo S60 2019

Volvo S60 2019 (Image: LUKE JOHN SMITH)

Background

Volvo S60 is entering its third generation and is the sixth model in the company’s range joining the S90, V60, V90, XC60, and XC90. It is a compact executive car built on the firm’s SMA platform which is used to build other cars such as the V60. It will initially launch with a T5 petrol engine before a hybrid variant is added. It is the first ever Volvo to be offered without a diesel option, emphasising a switch in market demand. This is also the first new car in its lineup to have a limited top speed of 122mph as the company aims to meet its vision 2020 strategy which aims to reduce road deaths or accidents in a Volvo car to zero. It is also the first car in the company’s lineup to be built in the USA at the company’s Charleston facility. 

Specs you may want to know

Price: from £37,935 (car tested £39,160)

Engine: T5 Petrol engine – 2.0-litre, four cylinders

Transmission: Automatic 

Power: 250 bhp, 350Nm torque

Emissions: 155g/km CO2

Top speed: 145 mph (limited to 112 mph)

Acceleration: 0-60mph 6.3 seconds/0-62mph 6.5 seconds



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