Tuesday, 2 December 2014

REVIEW - Volvo S60 D4 R-Design

Times are changing. Power is no longer king. The market is demanding safety, and cheap running costs. People are looking more to CO2 figures than 0-62mph times, and how much it will cost them on their P11d. One manufacture who has quickly adjusted to this market shift is Volvo, with the introduction and development of their Drive-E powertrains. And it was the all-new D4 diesel engine which came in my S60 R-Design test car. The paper figures are promising, so I wanted to see if the Volvo offered the perfect answer to the modern day car requirements.

Looks – 10/10

I really like the facelifted S60. The new front end is a perfect blend of sleek style and aggressive stance. The bonnet is completely smooth; Volvo have hidden the windscreen washer jets to leave the lines clean. Being the R-Design model you benefit from two-tone alloy wheels, silver door mirrors and a sporty bodykit. The daytime running lights have moved from the side of the grille down to the lower bumper, and this looks a lot better. At the back there is a small lip spoiler and twin exhausts which complete the sporty appearance. The aerial is a colour-coded shark-fin style, which keeps the sleek appearance. The silver trim around the doors on each side give a premium edge, and I personally would like to see privacy glass to complete the appearance.

On the inside the stylish lines continue, and I particularly like the dashboard. The materials throughout the cabin are top notch, with lots of brushed aluminium and leather throughout. The biggest improvements come in the form of the seats, which are now much more sporty thanks to large side bolsters. I’ve been saying since I tested my first Volvo that this was needed, so it’s good to see I wasn’t the only one who thought it. The new dashboard is all digital, and is a great focal point in the cabin. You can change from the standard blue R-Design dials, to Eco and Sport; the latter of which turns the dials red. The black carbon-look centre console with silver stripe is a nice feature, as are the R-Design logos dotted around to remind you of the sporty nature.

Handling/Performance – 10/10

Here comes the interesting bit. Volvo’s new gem was under the bonnet in the form of the D4 diesel. It’s a 2.0-litre, 4 cylinder motor which offers a balance of power and economy. It offers 181PS and 400Nm of torque, which is a lot. That translates into a 0-62mph dash of 6.9 seconds and a top speed of 143mph. So it’s definitely no slouch. And the D4 is a smooth engine too. The 6-speed manual gearbox works a treat, and the ratios are perfect; on the motorway the engine is barely ticking over. And yet the power is there. Put your foot down to overtake and there’s plenty of oomph. In-gear acceleration is excellent thanks to the torquey motor. I must add though that whilst the manual is nice, I have driven the D4 with the new 8-speed geartronic transmission, and it really is a delight. I know if I was buying I’d struggle to choose between the two.

Volvo has done a great job of the chassis setup too. I found the S60 perfect in every aspect. The suspension was comfortable on a long motorway cruise, absorbing the miles with ease. Yet once you got pedalling on a bumpy A-road the S60 felt sharp and responsive; the suspension let you know what was going on beneath the wheels. The steering is perfectly weighted and responsive. The new seats also help you by holding you firmly in place through the bends. In my week with the S60 I covered a lot miles over many different surfaces, and it coped excellently on each and every one of them. Even on the longest, several-hundred-mile journeys the Volvo was a dream, and I never felt tired after a long drive, which is a credit to the car.

Economy – 10/10

The main advantage of the D4 powertain comes with the economy figures. Despite the power on offer, the S60 is surprisingly green. Combined fuel consumption is 74.3mpg, which gives an incredible tank range of 1100 miles. Even the automatic manages 67.3mpg, so will save you money at the pumps. And if you opt for the manual you can forget about paying road tax too, because with CO2 emissions of 99g/km the S60 sits in VED band A so there is nothing to pay. And those emissions are great news for company car drivers too; keeping the benefit down on their P11d’s. The automatic only emits 109g/km too, which means road tax of £20 (free in the first year).

Practicality – 10/10

Some of the old Volvo stereotypes are long gone now, but the one that has stuck around- and rightly so- is that they are the safest cars on the road. This is no coincidence, with Volvo investing heavily in technology and looking to a future in which nobody is killed or seriously injured whilst in a Volvo. You might think this a long shot, but I honestly believe they’ll do it. By looking at the optional Driver Support Pack (£1,900) on the S60, you can see the building blocks for this. There’s collision warning system with automatic braking, lane-departure warning system, blind spot monitoring and adaptive cruise control. The latter works best on the motorway, and for me is invaluable on a long drive. The boot is big, the cabin spacious and the whole car is very dynamic; it would suit a high-flying executive and a family all the same.

Fun – 8/10

I had quite a lot of fun in my week with the S60, the majority of which was spent familiarising myself with all the technology. I like the new infotainment system, which features the best iPod control on the market. I was forever amused with the sheer brilliance of the adaptive cruise control; it’s a game-changer on the motorway. The Rebel Blue paint is unique to the R-Design models and never fails to turn heads wherever you go. What I liked best about the Volvo though, was the completeness of the car. Whatever the task, whatever the road, it always excelled, and put a smile on my face.

Concluding Remarks

And that’s just about it for my week with the S60 R-Design. I covered a lot of miles in the week, and was glad to do them all in the Volvo. The D4 R-Design starts at £29,945, and that makes it not only more economical and faster than the German alternatives, but cheaper too. In fact, for the same price you could be looking at an R-Design Lux Nav which has the navigation system and full leather interior amongst other features. So really, whether it be the next family car, or your next company car, the Volvo just makes sense. And that’s how I’ll leave it. The Volvo S60 R-Design; what are you waiting for?

Total Score – 48/50

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