From £20,520
Most affordable, entry-level model is appealing, but other engines are a better drive
Julian Rendell
16 February 2011

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

Join the debate

Add a comment…
saintly78 25 February 2011

Re: Volvo S60 1.6 T3

It will be a great day when Volvo no longer use any Ford components.

Orangewheels 24 February 2011

Re: Volvo S60 1.6 T3

Autocar wrote:
Sports saloons powered by 150bhp petrol engines used to sell in bucketloads.

Yes, but they didn't weigh 1.5 tonnes.

Mr£4worth 23 February 2011

Re: Volvo S60 1.6 T3

theonlydt wrote:

ronmcdonald wrote:
Over £26k for a 1.6litre car which isn't very fast nor delivers great fuel consumption?

A 1.6 litre that produces more than the 2.4 litre used to in the S80 etc (140bhp version) - as well as a huge whack of torque. 9 seconds 0-60 isn't too shabby.

Regarding price - the S60 T3 150 ES is £22.5k, which really isn't too bad. With 5 seconds of internet checking you can get that for over £4k off, at a little over £18k. Indeed this R-Design model is around £20.5k. 18k for a fast enough, very attractive and different car isn't too bad at all.

Over 40mpg from a car this size with a 150bhp doesn't strike me as particularly bad either. Just 10 years ago you'd have been looking at 30-35 mpg for a 150hp petrol saloon, now you're looking at 40-45.

In our experience Volvo fuel figures are utterly unrealistic, maybe this is the best S60 - I like the colour, the performance seems adequate, the boot looks better than our BMW 320's and I'm sure the Mrs would like it. Maybe we should have a look our 170bhp 320i has been thirsty and frustratingly never wants to change into a high gear like most BMW autos.