Volvo S60 D5
By Sam Hardy
There's no doubt the S60 is one of Volvo's landmark models, after it banished the Swede's boxy styling to history in 2000. But despite the compact executive's appeal, it has never been hugely popular in the UK. BMW sold more than three times as many 3-Series here last year, with the Mercedes C-Class not far behind.
But, Volvo says, the time has come for this to change. And with well over 60 per cent of S60s leaving the Gothenburg factory boasting a diesel engine, it is no surprise hopes are resting on a new turbodiesel to make the car more competitive and boost sales.
The new 2.4-litre five-cylinder unit, based on the existing D5 oil-burner, has already been sampled by us in the two-tonne XC90 SUV. It impressed with its refinement and performance, but the unit stacks up even better in the new saloon.
Power has risen from 163bhp to 185bhp, while torque has jumped from 340Nm to 400Nm. And all of this has led to a huge increase in muscle. The 0-60mph dash now takes 8.2 seconds, and top speed is 143mph. However, it is the in-gear performance that has improved the most, along with cruising refinement. Yet despite the comfortable seats and well equipped cabin, the S60 still has its work cut out in this ultra-competitive class.
With extra performance and impressive economy, Volvo's five-cylinder D5 diesel is an impressive addition to the already desirable S60 line-up. And although oil-burners already make up 60 per cent of the model's sales, we can't help but feel that figure is set to climb even higher.