Saturday, 1 February 2014

REVIEW - Volvo S60 SE Nav

With the new year comes a new line up of Volvo cars that are set to impress. The styling has been reworked, new engines developed and the technology refined. As a fan of just about every Volvo on sale, I was rather looking forward to seeing the impact of the changes, and so took the chance to grab a new S60. This was an SE Nav model, which means a good level of kit. But for those of a sporty disposition, I have one of the new R-Design XC60's coming next month, so be sure to check that out.


Looks - 8/10

I like what Volvo has done with the styling of the S60. The old one wasn't exactly an eyesore, but the cosmetic changes employed really step it up a notch. At the front they've moved the daytime running lights, made the grille wider, added extra curves to the bonnet and made more effort to hide all the radar sensors. Even though these are minor changes individually, the combined effect is very positive. Th new S60 is a lot sleeker and- dare I say it- more Germanic in its appearance. Of course this is in no way a bad thing, and the executive appearance matches the build quality and level of refinement on offer.

On the inside there are a few minor improvements too. Most noticeable is the instrument cluster, which has been replaced by a rather impressive digital offering. You can even customize the appearance, from Eco- which shows how economical your driving is- to Sport- which turns the dials red and makes the rev counter larger. The trim on the SE model is the cloth trim, which looks of a very high quality. All the plastics are lovely to the touch, and I like the textured dashboard. The storage space behind the centre console still remains, and the suitably placed navigation screen. The whole interior gives off a high-quality, premium feel, and that's just one reason I like Volvos so much.

Handling/Performance - 8/10

The engine in my test car was the 2.0-litre D3 diesel engine. This is a 5-cylinder engine, which will soon be replaced by a 4-cylinder equivalent, set to be even more economical. Power in the D3 is 136PS and a very respectable 350Nm of torque. Sent via a 6-speed manual box, the S60 does 0-62mph in 10.2 seconds and goes on to a top speed of 127mph. Not the fastest car in the world, but the in-gear pull is plenty thanks to the torque on offer. I will miss the 5-cylinder 'warble' and the smoothness when it's gone, so it will be interesting to see how the new engine compares. Motorway cruising is a dream in the S60, with the engine barely ticking over at 70mph.

The S60 also handles extremely well. Volvo seem to have found the perfect balance between comfort and feel. Drive the S60 on the motorway, and you will happily waft along, unaware of any bumps at all. Yet if you attack a few corners, you'll find that the chassis gives confidence in the bends and the S60 stays planted in the corners. My test car had the optional speed sensitive steering (£225) but you don't really need this. And as most S60s will spend their lives up and down the M6, the cornering ability is less of a concern anyway.

Economy - 10/10

Where the S60 really comes into its own is when you look at economy figures. Fuel consumption on a combined cycle is a rather attractive 65.7mpg, which makes motorway cruising even more of a dream. The CO2 emissions of 114g/km put the D3 in VED band C as well. This means your road tax will cost a measly £30, and be free in the first year. This will make the S60 attractive to business users too, who will be glad to reduce the amount they hand over to HMRC each month. That being said, business users will be even more keen on the new D4 engine coming, because that offers 181PS and emits just 99g/km. I can't wait to give that a test.

Practicality - 9/10

The S60 has a reasonable cabin, with space for all passengers. Rear legroom didn't seem overly generous, and might suffer with a taller driver up front. However no matter how long the drive, passengers will be comfortable in the S60. I took a trip to Watford and back whilst I had the S60. It was seven hours of driving, and yet I never got tired, or uncomfortable. My passengers said the same. And the Driver Support Pack (a £1,900 option) really does help. You get the blind spot information system and adaptive cruise control system amongst others, which really help on a long drive. The only disappointment I had was the lack of footrest for my left foot. Given that this car is so good at long-distance cruising, it would have been nice to have somewhere to rest my idle foot.

Fun - 7/10

The S60 is very sleek and stylish, but the D3 engine lacks any real gusto. It's fine at what it does- cruising economically- but doesn't offer too much for the more keen drivers amongst us. The technology does help make driving more enjoyable, and I still think Volvo have one of the best iPod interfaces I have ever used. As my iPod has a fair few songs on it- 11,600 to be precise- and yet I can easily navigate to whatever I want. The whole media system, from the hands-free telephone to the satellite navigation system, is very intuitive, and makes your life a lot easier. I think if you want the more fun S60, then I'd go for an R-Design with a bit more power. But the SE Nav does a job, and does it well.

Concluding Remarks

I'm rather impressed with the new S60. I think I'd like to test the new D4 engine to see how it compares, as this could really make the Volvo range attractive; especially to business users. The SE Nav S60 starts at £28,145 and with the extras fitted to my car will set you back a not inexpensive £33,170. I do think this is a little bit too much for this level of trim, and in order to justify a price tag in the £30k region you really should look at the bigger engines. But if you want to drive long distances without filling up, then go for the D2 or D3. My car did over 750 miles in the week I had it, and still had fuel left. That kind of range is very useful indeed. For more information pop into a local dealer, or Visit the Volvo website. The S60 then; sleek, refined, stylish. Need I say more?

Total Score - 42/50

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