What is it?
This is the latest addition to Volvo’s eco line-up, the Volvo S60 DRIVe. Already established as an accomplished if less rounded competitor in the compact exec class, the S60 has been fitted with the company’s 1.6-litre turbodiesel motor in order to achieve headline figures of 65.7mpg and 114g/km, upping its company car ratings and its appeal to those simply wanting a more frugal Volvo.
What’s it like?
Essentially it’s just like most of the S60 models, only more frugal and more competitively priced, too. As we found out, it has the ability to do well over 800 miles to its brimmed 67.5-litre tank in real-world driving, and close to 1000 miles if economy motorway driving appeals. The diesel engine is one of the best small-capacity diesel engines you can get in this class, rivaling BMW’s 318d for refinement, and bettering its emissions (even if it falls short of the more expensive 320d ED).
The six-speed gearbox that comes as standard on DRIVe models has well-judged ratios that allow you to make the most of the available torque, making it a more responsive and relaxing drive than some rivals. Our test car came in R-Design trim, which gets stiffer anti-roll bars and springs than standard DRIVe models, which ride on the same suspension as the rest of the non R-Design S60 range. Though R-Design comes with good equipment levels and appealing styling tweaks, we’d recommend avoiding it due to the bouncy, occasionally thumping ride quality that you get at higher speeds even on some of the poorer motorway surfaces. On UK roads it certainly feels overly firm for a car that has its strengths in economy and refinement rather than driver reward.
Should I buy one?
There is no doubting that the BMW 3-Series is more enjoyable, but there’s still a lot to like about the S60 DRIVe. The strong powertrain means that it’s a pleasant drive and it isn’t compromised in the name of economy, it’s competitively priced and it looks sharp and modern on the inside and outside. It’s a happy medium between equipment levels, list price and running costs for both private and company car buyers. There are less high-end vehicles that will do the same job for less, but opt for the S60 DRIVe SE and you’ll be getting one of the most capable premium eco-saloons out there.