First impressions: Volvo S60 DRIVe SE

New cars Volvo Reviews

This week I'll be spending some in the company of the Volvo S60 DRIVe. You may have noticed that I recently took a shine to the C30 T5, so it was only natural that I'd want to check out the rest of the Volvo range. But rather than opt for another hot Volvo, I thought I'd give one of the more frugal models a run out. After all, we are still living in an age of austerity.

At £27,250 including options, my test car could hardly be called cheap, but the ongoing running costs should be. With a CO2 figure of just 114 g/km, the S60 DRIVe cost only £30 a year to tax, so that's a good start. But the DRIVe's ultimate trump card is its ability to deliver a combined MPG figure of 65.7 or 72.4 extra urban, if you're really trying hard. So naturally I set the trip to zero, reset the average MPG figure and Ill be doing my best to confirm these claims over the coming days.

Volvo S60 DRIVe Black SapphireBut I won't be hypermiling as that wouldn't be a fair reflection. Instead I shall be using the car in a number of real world scenarios. So think runs to the office, motorway commutes, family outings and the occasional trip to the shops. I might even throw in a dawn raid for good measure.

Or maybe not. If the first 50 miles are anything to go by, the S60 DRIVe isn't likely to set your pulse racing. On the UK website, Volvo claims that the S60 will 'make your heart race'. In truth, I think they're referring to the hot T5 or T6 models, as the DRIVe doesn't deliver much in the way of thrills. But then that's not what this car is about. Instead, the DRIVe is about frugality, efficiency and safety. This is a car with a conscience.

On first impressions, the S60 DRIVe looks good, helped in part by the test car's metallic Black Sapphire paintwork. The interior is as you'd expect from a Volvo, free of fuss and high on quality. The centre piece is once again the floating centre console. As with the C30 though, the S60 suffers from 'big steering wheel syndrome'. I can only think that Alan Partridge's 'big plate scam' had an influence on the Volvo interior design chaps. But with iPod/iPhone connectivity, a highly efficient climate control system and a nicely sound proofed cabin, the S60 DRIVe made for a rather pleasant journey home this evening.

Volvo S60 DRIVe dialsPleasant isn't a word you'd necessarily use to describe a fire breathing, all action sports saloon. The DRIVe's 1.6 litre turbodiesel engine produces just 113 bhp and is capable of propelling the car to a top speed of 121 mph, so this is not a car for speed hunters. In fact, the DRIVe seems woefully slow under acceleration, a fact highlighted by a 0-60 time just north of ten seconds. It also feels rather unsettled by less than smooth surfaces when pushing it through the bends.

But then the S60 DRIVe doesn't set its stall out to be fun, fast or furious. So instead I'll judge the car on its frugality, comfort and ability to handle anything that modern family life throws at it.

For regular updates throughout the week, follow me on twitter, or check back here next week for the full review.

Update, 14th July: full report now live here.