From £21,7207
Volvo V60 still can’t top the class, but its new engine – in the S60 – might come close

Our Verdict

Volvo V60

Stylish new estate is Sweden's answer to the BMW 3-series Touring

Nic Cackett
16 September 2013

What is it?

This latest Volvo V60 is the culmination of a six-year journey. Volvo apparently dreamed up the idea of focusing on small four-cylinder engines and hybrids in 2007 while it was still in Ford’s clutches; by the time it was sold in 2009, Volvo had decided that it wanted to be a manufacturer of 2.0-litre (or smaller) motors only. Two years later, it received the funding to make it happen. 

The fruits of Volvo's labour, to be launched in the S60, V60 and XC60 first, are strikingly simple. There will now be just two 2.0-litre engines – one petrol, one diesel – sharing a basic architecture and three methods of mounting. All other powerplants (Ford’s remnants, the five-cylinder diesels etc) will be swept away over the next two years, replaced by eight derivatives of the same design. Hybrids will follow. 

It’s a logical, if slightly daring strategy. Its simplicity reflects Volvo’s size and its standalone nature, but also its intention to remain a serious volume manufacturer (it expects to build 500,000 units at its Skovde engine plant). That ambitious figure is bolstered by the technical ingenuity on show.

The new D4 diesel engine (the T6 petrol is dealt with elsewhere) ought to start life as a class leader. Homologation is yet to come, but Volvo is counting on a near-to, if not under, 99g/km CO2 emissions figure in the S60. With 178bhp, 295lb ft of torque and 0-62mph in 7.4sec. On paper, thosea re BMW 320d ED-beating figures. 

Those numbers have been achieved conventionally, through the likes of weight reduction, improved turbocharging and an Eco coast mode, and with evolutionary new tech, including the adoption of i-Art, a 2500 bar common-rail injection system that incorporates pressure sensors in every injector to permit an even finer tuning of combustion timing. 

We drove the new engine aboard the V60, hooked up to an all-new, Aisin-supplied eight-speed gearbox which replaces the old six-speed Powershift transmission. The automatic and estate weight pushes the CO2 up around 10g/km, but Volvo still reckons the D4 will deliver 67.2mpg combined economy.

What's it like?

There's a lot of new tech beating within the D4’s aluminum heart but you wouldn’t know it on start up. The atypical clatter is unmistakable, and there’s less respite from it than you might find in some of Volvo’s rivals. In terms of vibration, the refinement is respectable, and the V60 creeps keenly and pulls well under the accelerator pedal’s initial travel. 

Responsiveness is generally good. The Aisin gearbox is a better fit for the diesel’s plod than it is for the much more zippy T6, and it downshifts within expectations. Its software dictates a sedate style, but with the healthy peak twist appearing at 1750rpm, the V60 never feels labour intensive. 

More enthusiastic driving dictates use of the paddles, which is fine as heavier throttle inputs reveal an ingratiating tolerance for higher engine speeds. Full power doesn’t appear until 4250rpm, and the D4 will find it vigorously rather than emptying its lungs when the torque tails off at 2500rpm. 

All in all it feels like a decent modern diesel engine; if not quite as spry as the four-cylinder units from BMW and Mazda, but not all that dissimiliar – which is high praise as they form our current benchmark. Indeed, the V60 D4’s shortcomings are those inherited elsewhere, such as an anonymous (if faithful) dynamic performance and an inability to ride with quite the same elan as its better rivals manage. 

Should I buy one?

If Volvo manages to sneak the six-speed manual saloon version of the S60 under 100g/km then it has provided buyers a substantial reason for doing so. The D4 is not a revolutionary piece of kit, but the box-fresh four-cylinder motor does what all newly introduced engines should by increasing our regard for the model in which they find themselves. 

While the V60 (and S60) are still not perfect specimens in an extremely tough class, a world-class attribute has been added under the bonnet. Even for the car we’ve driven – with its emissions drawn closer to its rivals by the belch effect of the torque converter – it provides a solidly desirable tick in the 'for' column. And with more derivatives to come, things will likely only get better for the foresighted Swedes. 

Volvo V60 D4 SE auto

Price £30,945; 0-62mph 7.6sec; Top speed 140mph; Economy 67.3mpg (combined); CO2 111g/km (TBC); Kerb weight 1700kg (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, turbodiesel; Power 178bhp at 4250rpm; Torque 295lb ft at 1750-2500rpm; Gearbox 8-spd auto

Join the debate

Comments
14

16 September 2013

Stopped reading after "clatter is unmistakable" for around £30,000.
If you can afford £30,000 and do less than 15,000 miles why put up with a diesel that can take many years to pay back just before clogging it's DPF and sounding like a tractor after the cars mid-life!
Anyhow that's my opinion over with

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

jer

16 September 2013

Yes it really damned the new engine that clatter from Cackett. I always think the Volvo reviews are a bit mealy mouthed ; as if Autocar can't endorse a Volvo, think Hitler in the downfall film where he rants "not a Volvo a xxxxxx Volvo". The BM 2.0 engine also gets a rap for being a bit rattly espec on startup but gets top stars for delivering good numbers. Neither am I sure what to make of the transmission - so it's materially worse than the ZF? is it even more lethargic than the Merc 7 speeder? or too early to say?

From what I read by Bremner the latest VW and Madza are ahead for 2.0 diesel nvh.

16 September 2013

But do they give the purchaser a spare wheel yet? Stopped me from buying a S60 when they first appeared.

16 September 2013
Bristolbluemanc wrote:

But do they give the purchaser a spare wheel yet? Stopped me from buying a S60 when they first appeared.

Get over yourself, a temporary spare wheel is an option as it is on a fair few cars theses days, and at least they give you the option.

16 September 2013

when will auto journalists stop trying to push diesel on to people who don't want or need them.
When will they tell people that the 15 or so mpg they save come at huge cost: higher fuel price, more frequent and expensive servicing, more expensive oil, clatter, smell, reliability issues not to mention higher initial price!
The only people who need a diesel are company car buyers interested in BiK and people doing 30K+ miles a year- STOP GIVING BAD ADVICE!

16 September 2013

except in some European countries diesel cars have a lower purchase price and cheaper fuel at the pump sashko1.

16 September 2013
KiwiRob wrote:

except in some European countries diesel cars have a lower purchase price and cheaper fuel at the pump sashko1.

The only thing is 99% of the readers of the readers of forumn will be buying cars at uk prices

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

16 September 2013
SASHKO1 wrote:

when will auto journalists stop trying to push diesel on to people who don't want or need them.
When will they tell people that the 15 or so mpg they save come at huge cost: higher fuel price, more frequent and expensive servicing, more expensive oil, clatter, smell, reliability issues not to mention higher initial price!
The only people who need a diesel are company car buyers interested in BiK and people doing 30K+ miles a year- STOP GIVING BAD ADVICE!

Autocar have never "pushed" diesel onto UK motorists.
I have not bought a petrol car since 1978 and have owned diesel cars only since 1985.
I have a sister who has driven about 3000 miles in 20 months since leasing a new BMW 118d coupe and I expect you think her mad to have chosen a diesel with her low mileage. The reason she chose diesel is simple, it was cheaper to lease over 3 years than the 120i alternate car.
And no she has not had any problems with the DPF or any other diesel issues.
The resale value of a 3 year old diesel is far better than a petrol version which is almost unsaleable due to lack of customers for petrol cars with that size engine.
The sales of diesel cars in the UK tells its own story, few petrol cars are sold that have engines of over 1400cc, the vast majority of user choosers buy diesel for their benefits compared with petrol.

maxecat

25 September 2013
Maxecat wrote:
SASHKO1 wrote:

when will auto journalists stop trying to push diesel on to people who don't want or need them.
When will they tell people that the 15 or so mpg they save come at huge cost: higher fuel price, more frequent and expensive servicing, more expensive oil, clatter, smell, reliability issues not to mention higher initial price!
The only people who need a diesel are company car buyers interested in BiK and people doing 30K+ miles a year- STOP GIVING BAD ADVICE!

Autocar have never "pushed" diesel onto UK motorists.
I have not bought a petrol car since 1978 and have owned diesel cars only since 1985.
I have a sister who has driven about 3000 miles in 20 months since leasing a new BMW 118d coupe and I expect you think her mad to have chosen a diesel with her low mileage. The reason she chose diesel is simple, it was cheaper to lease over 3 years than the 120i alternate car.
And no she has not had any problems with the DPF or any other diesel issues.
The resale value of a 3 year old diesel is far better than a petrol version which is almost unsaleable due to lack of customers for petrol cars with that size engine.
The sales of diesel cars in the UK tells its own story, few petrol cars are sold that have engines of over 1400cc, the vast majority of user choosers buy diesel for their benefits compared with petrol.

they constantly go on about the higher mpg and forget to mention what happens when you have fork out 2K for a new turbo or DPF or some other crap. Don't get me wrong, in a perfect world fine, but it's not and heaven forbid you live in a country where the fuel is manipulated and ruins your engine- I've had one , the first and the last, and most people I know who bought a diesel swear they'll never buy another. Just my experience.

25 September 2013

this isn't company car magazine- sales of diesel in the UK are up due to BIK and feet sales, very few people buy them for themselves.

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