What is it?
Sports saloons powered by 150bhp petrol engines used to sell in bucketloads. But the harsh reality of rising fuel prices and CO2-based taxes has sidelined them in favour of diesel engines as the powerplants of choice and the entry point into a range.
Such is the life of the new 148bhp Volvo S60 T3, now the entrée into Volvo’s handsome 3-series chaser at £22,495 in basic-spec ES trim.
What’s it like?
Powered by Ford’s 1.6-litre turbo Ecoboost, just launched in the new C-Max, Volvo carries over the bulk of the engine with minor changes. This is limited to a redesigned induction system to free up clearance under the bonnet to improve pedestrian impact protection and a retuned engine management system to suit the S60.
Quiet, refined and a smooth revver, the T3 provides modest progress in the S60; there’s no escaping the fact that the extra 30 horses generated by the higher-boost T4 version make the latter the more enjoyable drive.
However, by undercutting the T4 by £1550, the T3 does make a case as the cheapest route into Volvo’s R-Design trim, it’s a tasty alternative to the ubiquitous ‘Sport’ favoured by the opposition.
R-Design Premium includes sat-nav, DAB radio and a very stylish interior, with flourishes of brightwork and seat trim that mixes leather, technical materials and contrasting stitching.
Also standard on the R-Design are 18in wheels and a heavier-feeling power steering tune, and they do add a beefier feel to the experience. But the effect is mostly psychological; the standard steering on SEs feels more direct and better matched to the T3’s relaxed performance.
Should I buy one?
So there are real financial reasons to plump for a T3, and in these harsh financial times that may be sufficiently persuasive, but if budget allows, we prefer the punchier T4.
Volvo S60 1.6 T3
Price: £26,380; Top speed: 130mph; 0-60mph: 9.0sec; Economy: 42.8mpg; CO2: 152g/km; Kerb weight; 1497kg; Engine: 4 cyls, 1595cc, turbo, petrol; Power: 148bhp at 5700rpm; Torque: 177lb ft at 1600rpm; Gearbox: 6-spd manual