Most affordable, entry-level model is appealing, but other engines are a better drive

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.