30 Sept 2014

2014 Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav First Drive Review

I'm running a Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav for a week. Here's my first drive review

Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

The loan of the S60 was arranged in a hurry. The days before it was delivered I'd been busy and the day after it was delivered I set off on a 400 mile round trip to see a punk band consisting of old school mates I hadn't seen in 27 years.

As such I had no idea of the price or even stats of the car and only looked them up before writing this review. It was quite a refreshing experience as knowing everything about a car and it's competition can lead to over-analysis when driving it.  You write the review in your head and sometimes decide what to say almost too early.

So, rather than being judgemental I soaked up the experience. When it came to looking up the stats some surprised me.

I wasn't surprised at the price. It's an expensive car.  The S60 range starts at £20,620 but the test car was the fully loaded, top of the range R-Design Lux Nav and cost £35,395. Add in various options and the price on the road was £42,260.

Volvo is pitching its product directly at the German Big Three of Mercedes, Audi and BMW and, as such, Volvos don't come cheap.

Let's analyse the test car's name to see what you get for your cash.

S60 means it's a 3-series size saloon.  It's a good looking car and in Rebel Blue looks pretty fab.

D5 means it gets the top of the range diesel engine which is a 2.4 litre inline-5.  It's been around since 2009 and will be replaced soon with one of the new 4-cylinder, 2-litre Drive-E engines.  This will be cleaner but the current D5 is a 5-cylinder and has a lovely off-beat engine note.

It's also powerful.  In standard form it produces 212bhp but the one in the test car was "Optimised by Polestar" which means it gets a remap and more horsepower and torque.  Combined with the rather fluid 6-speed manual gearbox the S60 D5 feels like a fast car, more so than the stats suggest.  It also returns a decent 62.8mpg on the combined cycle.

R-Design means this car gets an upgraded steering wheel, sporty trim (such as a 'silk metal' grille and chrome wing mirrors), a suspension upgrade and sports seats.  The seats in particular are wonderfully comfortable and supportive and have patches of the leather so soft it's almost like Kangaroo leather.

Lux means you get a bunch of options included, such as the 18" Ixion wheels, heated, folding mirrors and active bending xenon lights.  The lights are amazingly effective at night, you can leave them on full beam and a shadow is cast over oncoming vehicles so as not to dazzle the driver.  It's not infallible but is one of the best systems I've experienced.

Finally, Nav gives you the standard Volvo satnav via the infotainment screen. It's a good system but with a rather infuriating input by which you select the postcode or address by a dial and buttons.  Volvo needs a touchscreen in future.

The infotainment system also has Bluetooth and digital radio and access to options for all the various safety devices, a lot of which come as part of the £1,900 Driver Support Pack which also includes the fabulous active cruise control.

The S60 is quite spacious with supremely comfortable seats and delivers a refined driving experience that's verging on sporty.  It's more a cruiser than a sports car but you can have fun throwing it around your favourite back roads albeit with some torque steer as it is front wheel drive.

As mentioned above it feels faster than the stats suggest. 347lb ft of torque is not insubstantial and you feel a proper surge of power when flooring the accelerator.  The suspension evens out most road surfaces and driver communication is on a par with Audi, if not at BMW levels.

In terms of practicalities there are cupholders, deep door pockets, a big space under the armrest and a full sized glovebox in the front.  The central armrest in the rear has integrated cupholders.  The rear legroom is reasonable and the 60/40 split seats fold flat so you can carry large items in the boot.

For a do-it-all saloon the S60 really does feel as good as the German competition, and outperforms them all in various regards, most notably in terms of sheer comfort and refinement. Whether you think a Volvo's cachet is as high as the German's, and can justify its price, is up to you but, for me, it is.

See also - Mercedes-Benz C250 BlueTEC AMG-Line Review


Price - £35,395 (£42,260 as tested)
Engine - 2.4 litre, 5-cylinder, turbocharged diesel
Transmission - 6-speed manual
0-62mph - 7.4 seconds
Top Speed - 143mph
Power - 230bhp
Torque - 347lb ft / 470Nm
Economy - 62.8mpg
CO2 - 119g/km
Kerb weight - 1,658kg
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav
Volvo S60 D5 R-Design Lux Nav

By Matt Hubbard