From £21,7207
Engine options, speed, acceleration and refinement

At the top end, the Volvo V60 D5 has no problem staying the pace of the class, and when you consider the cars that make up that class, clearly that’s some achievement.

But more memorable than the bald facts of its performance figures – 0-60mph in 7.4sec – is the way in which the V60 goes about delivering it. The D5 has a lovely thrum to it and a breadth of torque that belies its relatively high specific output. It may not be as smooth as the straight six used by BMW, but it is more characterful and no less effective.

The diesels offer impressive economy and emissions figures

However, the bigger sellers are likely to be the 1.6 DRIVe and the D3 diesels – neither offer anything like the performance, with the DRIVe being especially tardy. None of the diesels is especially refined, either, although the noise from the five pot diesels is pleasant enough. The diesels do offer impressive economy and emissions figures, though, with the DRIVe a company driver-tempter with its low CO2 and high mpg figures.

The range-topping T6 petrol model claims a sub six second 0-62mph time and it certainly feels that fast. However, if you want that kind of performance we'd question if this is teh car to have it in, especially with so many seemingly more suitable rivals in the price range.

The T5 is no slouch, either, being both flexible and refined. In particular the broad torque band makes the V60 T5 feel eager and responsive wherever you are in the rev range, and the solid gearshift completes the overall sensation that this is a car intended to offer performance without drama.

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The 1.6s in the T3 and T4 are smooth and reasonably brisk, but most buyers will simply opt for a diesel to keep costs down.

Helping the V60 on its way is an excellent six-speed gearbox with well chosen ratios and a nicely damped, progressive clutch action. It seems well suited to the engine’s characteristics and calls further into question the wisdom of the expensive two-pedal alternative.