VOLVO S60 (2014 – 2018)

By Jonathan Crouch

Models Covered

4dr saloon (1.6, 2.0, 2.4 diesel [D2, D3, D4 & D5] / 1.5, 1.6 petrol [T3, T4])


Does life really begin at sixty? If you’re a potential Volvo owner, the answer may well be yes. The Swedish maker’s second generation S60 saloon was, we were told at its launch back in 2010, the most dynamic Volvo ever, both to look at and to drive. By 2014 though, this design was in need of an update – and that’s what it got. It’s this MK2 revised model, which sold between 2014 and 2018, that we’re going to look at as a potential used car buy.

The History

This MK2 model S60’s design was something of a departure for a brand that has built its reputation on substance and safety rather than style and sportiness. But then something pretty radical was needed to break the German stranglehold on the BMW 3 Series-dominated compact executive market where this car must compete.

At its original launch in 2010, the signs were that this MK2 S60 was potentially capable of doing exactly that, but such promise was never going to be completely fulfilled with a reliance on other people’s engine technology. So, for the fully improved version launched early in 2014, Volvo brought us some of its own in a D4 diesel variant offering a combination of performance and efficiency that no rivals at the time could match. There were smarter looks too and the promise was that all of this would be matched with a greater emphasis on driver involvement.

As it was, we didn’t get a car that was dynamically able to take on and beat tough rivals like the BMW 3 Series and the Audi A4 in the mid-sized premium executive saloon segment, but the S60 was more affordable than those two contenders, much safer, well equipped and still with considerable appeal. This improved MK2 design sold until it was replaced by an all-new MK3 S60 model in the Spring of 2019. Does it all add up to a decent used car buy if you’re shopping in this segment? Let’s see.

What You Get

With this second generation S60 model, stylist Orjan Sterner and his team set out to create something as far away from the boxy Volvo stereotype as they could get and the result is rather handsome, with a coupe-like roofline and Aston Martin-style tail flourishes. Brand marketers even go as far as to call this a ‘four-door coupe’ – by which they mean the kind of really rakish design you’d get in a rival like, say Mercedes’ CLA-Class or Volkswagen’s CC. In the metal, this is far boxier and more practical than either of those two cars, but the flowing, supposedly racetrack-inspired looks are still pleasing on the eye. It’s a sleek shape too, with strong shoulder lines and a slippery 0.29Cd drag coefficient.

This updated version got what Volvo describes as ‘more focused and determined-looking headlamps’, added to create what was intended to be a more ‘expressive’ front end. The S60's horizontal lines were also emphasised at both the front and rear and, together with details such as a wider grille and daylight running lights. The various changes give this car a more striking, purposeful presence. Under the skin of course, the original second generation S60 recipe is as it always was, Ford Mondeo-based, which means the underpinnings are exactly the same as those used in the brand’s supposedly larger V70 estate and S80 saloon models from this era.

Out back, the 339-litre boot capacity is rather more compact than it should be – around 30% smaller than the trunk you’d get in, say, an Audi A4 from this era. Indeed, it’s even smaller than the space you’d get in the saloon version of that car’s more diminutive stablemate, the Audi A3. Volvo was acutely aware of this issue, which is why, as you’d expect, a 60/40 split-folding rear bench is standard and also – more surprisingly – why a fold-flat front passenger seat is also included across the range so that really long loads can be accommodated. That’s an almost unique feature in this class but if it isn’t enough, then your dealer will direct you towards the V60 estate version of this car, which offers a 430-litre boot extendable to 1,241-litres with the seats folded.

What To Look For

Most of the S60 owners we surveyed were very happy with their cars – but inevitably there were a few issues. Some owners have reported problems with jerky or jumping gear shifting. The underlying mechanicals are tried and tested parts and shouldn't give cause for concern. The interiors are also more hard wearing than most but the load area can be damaged by trying to lever in bicycles which can be an awkward fit in this car. Check for parking bumps and scrapes especially on the ‘R-Design’ models. The big alloy wheels are very susceptible to kerbing. The T5 and D5 models have quite an appetite for front tyres so check there's some life left in the rubber. As usual, check the alloys for kerb scuffing and the rear of the cabin and the boot for damage caused by unruly kids or awkwardly-shaped luggage.

On The Road

You might not approach the idea of driving a Volvo saloon with much enthusiasm, something which might be justified if here, we were talking about one of the brand’s bigger models. But we’re not. Here’s a car the marque describes as a ‘premium sports saloon’. And it runs on the underpinnings of a Ford Mondeo, universally recognised as one of the most dynamically adept family cars out there. In other words, there are great grounds for optimism when it comes to the on the road experience.

Engine-wise, we’d recommend the 181bhp 16v diesel powerplant you’ll find in the D4 model. At a stroke, this engine makes the typical Volvo used car sales person’s job rather awkward as it’s cleaner and more economical than the feeblest 115bhp 1.6-litre D2 S60, but faster and more responsive than the priciest diesel in the line-up, the most powerful 215bhp 2.4-litre D5 S60 variant. Let’s be more specific. As well as being able to average nearly 75mpg and emit under 100g/km of CO2, the D4 gets to 62mph from rest in just 7.6s on the way to 140mph. Even if you opt for an 8-speed automatic version, those stats are hardly affected. Such are the benefits of modern technology.


True, this S60 may not quite be the naughtily sporting car we were promised in the original ads – and it could be a little more practical too. On the plus side though, many will find it hard not to be won over by the smooth riding, safely sensible Volvo package this S60 can deliver. Overall then, what we have here is a less retiring Sixty, a highly impressive package that’s an intriguing alternative to the compact executive mainstream. You should try it.