2.11.2011 Volvo S60 DRIVe review
No Volvo I've ever driven got the stares and positive looks of this car. It's a big evolutionary step for Volvo and makes the S60 a stronger rival for the Audi A4 than I expected with little compromise in the hunt for good fuel economy. That said, keener drivers will still opt for the more agile, and rear-wheel drive BMW 3-Series.
Prices are competitive though some friends thought the instruments looked 'basic'. Irritating electronic hand brake (try driving on snowy, hilly roads or parking between vehicles on a slope) would put me off the car. I would also want a normal spare wheel not just a can of sealant. Otherwise it's a stylish, pleasant car especially for those doing long motorway hauls.
Review by Russell Bray for nextgreencar.com
If you didn't know it was one of Volvo's eco models you would consider the DRIVe a normal and pleasingly refined diesel saloon. The 1560cc four-cylinder engine gives you only 114 bhp at 3,600 rpm to play with but there's a good surge of turbocharged torque (199 lbs ft) from just 1,750 rpm so real world performance is quite peppy and hills hold no threats even at low rpm in high gears. Gear ratios are well chosen to make the most of the power and the clutch and gear changes are light and easy. Acceleration to 60 mph takes 10.4 seconds and top speed is 121 mph.
The Volvo's open road abilities are fine for most people I would reckon, though personally I would like less body lean in higher g-force corners and more of a light-footed feel when you ask it to change direction quickly. The power assisted steering inspires confidence without being nervous and backing off the power restores your cornering line if you are going too quickly. The six-speed manual gearbox has a slick action and its ratios are well spaced making the S60 feel relaxing or almost sporty depending on your mood. The S60 weighs in at 1499 kg (kerb weight) and you feel it if you ask the brakes to work hard.
The S60 is a sleek and distinctive, especially by Volvo's previous standards, executive saloon with real presence from the front and quite characterful tail-lights too. An advantage of models with Bi-Xenon lights is that you can change the beam pattern for driving on the continent without having to mess around with bits of sticky tape. Interior is typically restrained and usefully spacious. Boot has handy fold-up support with elastic straps so you can prevent smaller items being thrown around. Split rear seat folds also boost carrying capacity, and there is also a ski hatch. Length is 4628 mm and it is 1865 mm wide.
COMFORT & CONTROLS
There is more cabin space than in the previous model, especially in the rear pews, and it's a genuine adult four-seater. As usual with Volvos the seats are both very comfortable and supportive, but try to squeeze in five and the shaping of the rear seats means anyone in the middle will moan.
The dashboard layout is a model of simplicity with ultra clear instruments and easy to read scroll through information on average speed, fuel consumption etc. The centre screen looks a bit basic unless you opt for the satnav system. Trying to parallel-park between cars on an incline shows how rubbish electronic handbrakes are compared to a human operated one.
MPG & RUNNING COSTS
Impressive 114 g/km CO2 is the headline figure along with 55.4 mpg around town and 65.7 mpg on the combined cycle. My planet earth reality was 42 to 46 mpg on commutes in city traffic, even with the automatic stop-start system working over time. A best of 56 mpg was achieved using a light foot when motorway cruising. That gives a theoretical range of around 780 miles if you leave a little under a gallon in the 14.8 gallon tank. The low fuel light started glaring at me after 660 miles. Car tax is band C, so free for the first year and then £30 thereafter.
Low friction engines with variable turbine geometry, reduced weight, better aerodynamics and automatic engine start-stop are key features of Volvo DRIVe 'green' cars. To meet the Euro 5 emission regulations, the engine is fitted with a controlled exhaust gas recirculation system and combined catalytic converter and diesel particulate filter (DPF). To improve economy, the S60 uses brake energy regeneration to charge the battery. Once at 80% charge, the engine management only engages the alternator during engine braking. This means less energy drawn from the engine, saving up to 3% of the car's fuel consumption. Volvo tops the table for European carmakers for reducing CO2 emissions, according to the European Federation for Transport and Environment. Europe's eight largest carmakers cut their CO2 emissions by an average of 2 to 6% in 2010, but Volvo achieved 9% (see story). These refinements help towards a Next Green Car Rating of 34.
ES models come with city safety technology, 16 inch alloy wheels, dynamic stability traction control) electric door mirrors, climate control, information centre, cruise control, leather steering wheel with remote audio controls. SE adds rain sensing wipers, rear park assist, folding door mirrors, textile upholstery, graphite aluminium trim, a high performance audio system, Bluetooth® hands free phone system and 17 inch alloy wheels. SE Lux adds leather-faced upholstery, electric driver's seat with memory and active cornering lights with headlight cleaning system. You can also specify lane-departure warning and blind-spot warning options.
Model tested: Volvo S60 D2 SE DRIVe
Body-style: Four door compact executive saloon
Engine/CO2: 1560cc, four-cylinder 114bhp / 114 gCO2/km
Trim grades: ES, SE, SE Lux, R-Design
On-road price: From £25,595. Test car with options £27,250
Warranty: Three years/ 60,000 miles
In the showroom: Available now
Review rating: 4.0 STARS
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