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Used Volvo S60 (Mk2, 2010-2018) review

A full used buyer’s guide on the Volvo S60 covering the S60 Mk2 (2010-date)

Verdict

With Volvo in that twilight zone between premium and mainstream, the S60 is often passed by, but it’s definitely worth a look. It’s comfortable, well equipped and, because Volvos tend not to hold their price quite as well as some more prestige models, can be excellent value on the used market. The company constantly improves its cars, in both big and small ways. So by buying the newest model you can afford, you should get something better in terms of kit, comfort or fuel economy. While the S60 is dynamically flawed, if you’re looking for a strong-value mile-muncher that’ll safely carry the family, we can think of few more suitable models.

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It’s all too easy to pigeonhole brands and their owners – except where Volvo is concerned. Whereas the marque used to appeal to conservative buyers who loved its safety credentials and didn’t mind its boxy designs, Volvo has now become sexy and far more aspirational.

As a result, it attracts people who would previously only have considered a sporty car from one of its German rivals. Yet while the S60 is as comfortable and well built as you’d expect, its ride and handling disappoint. Still, with the availability of four-wheel drive and powerful yet frugal engines, there really is something for everyone – including anybody who needs to tow. 

History

While the original S60 was sold from 2000 to 2009, the Mk2 version hit showrooms in December 2010. It offered 2.0-litre D3 or 2.4 D5 diesels, along with a 4WD 3.0 T6 petrol engine. There were ES, SE and SE Lux trims, and manual or Geartronic six-speed auto boxes. R-Design trim arrived soon after. By February 2011 there was a 114g/km 1.6D DRIVe eco model; 10 months later this became available with a dual-clutch auto.

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T3 and T4 1.6T petrols appeared in early 2011, along with a 2.0 T5. A facelift in spring 2013 brought a restyle, cleaner engines, more safety kit, plus a 106g/km D2. An all-new 2.0 four-cylinder diesel replaced previous units in January 2014, and an eight-speed auto also superseded the six-ratio unit. 

Which one should I buy?

As all engines are turbocharged, no S60 feels lacklustre, although the D2 isn’t as sprightly as the alternatives. The earlier six-speed auto isn’t that slick, but the later eight-speed is more accomplished and efficient.

The ES has City Safety auto braking, 16-inch alloys, cruise and climate control, high-performance audio and a multifunction steering wheel. SE adds 17-inch alloys, Bluetooth, rear parking sensors, power-folding mirrors and auto wipers. SE Lux gets leather, cornering lights and electric driver’s seat adjustment. R-Design brings 18-inch wheels along with a sportier chassis and a sharper exterior design. The Business Edition (from August 2012) features sat-nav, rear parking sensors and upgraded audio. 

Alternatives to the Volvo S60 Mik2

The Volkswagen Passat is perhaps the S60’s closest rival, as it has more of a premium image and is extremely accomplished, readily available and very usable.

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The BMW 3 Series and Mercedes C-Class provide very tough competition, although you’re likely to have to pay more for both of them. They’re seriously competent, but neither has the Volvo’s charm and they’re not nearly as individual as the S60.

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Perhaps the closest rival in terms of silhouette is the Jaguar XF, which is arguably pitched as a sportier driver’s car than the S60. The original model is becoming dated in some ways, but incredibly it still came 14th in our Driver Power 2016 satisfaction survey. 

What to look for

Gearbox

The manual transmission is good to use, and so is the eight-speed auto. The six-speed automatic isn’t quite as slick, though.

Comfort

Most occupants will love the seats; they’re some of the best in any family car. But the optional DAB radio’s signal can drop away while on the move.

Controls

The climate control can work erratically, often blowing hotter or colder than you’d like. Adjustments sometimes have little effect.

Multimedia

Sensus multimedia updates take several hours to install, so some owners don’t bother. It’s worth keeping things up to date, though. 

Interior

Inside, the S60 feels well put together on the whole. But the dashboard is confusing, with its busy centre console, and rear space is tight. The luggage area isn’t great, either; with the back seats in use it’ll stow 380 litres, although the seats can be folded to increase carrying capacity. 

Running costs

All petrol S60s need a service every 12 months or 12,500 miles; diesels stretch this to every 18,000 miles.

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Maintenance costs depend on engine, transmission and whether it’s a minor or major service. Owners can pay from £195 to £810 for petrol cars, but on diesels it’s typically £210-£350, or £530 with a fresh cambelt. All S60 engines have these, and it must be renewed every 10 years or 96,000 miles (diesels), 108,000 miles (T6) or 144,000 miles (T3, T4, T5). The work costs around £400. Change the brake fluid every two years at £80.

Recalls

A dozen recalls may sound worrying, but Volvo often calls models back for relatively trivial reasons. The most recent four were due to incorrect fuel gauge readouts, affecting cars built from November 2014 to December 2015.

The first two recalls, in May 2011, were for potential engine stalling. They were followed by issues over power-steering leaks (July 2011), faulty airbags and fuel leaks (March 2012), engine failure (April 2012), faulty cabin trim (November 12), steering assist (November 2013) and electronic parking brake failure (February 2015). 

Driver Power owner satisfaction

The S60 hasn’t appeared in our Driver Power satisfaction survey since 2014 (it came 50th), but the similar V60 estate ranked 86th last year and 72nd in 2016. This year, owners said they love the seat comfort (second), build quality (13th) and tech (22nd), although 127th for reliability and 125th for handling aren’t great.

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