Driven: Volvo S60 D4 R-Design Nav Review – Well Balanced Car With Huge Appeal

DRIVEN: Volvo S60 R-Design Review

After a week-long test drive with the Volvo S60 D4 R-Design Nav here is my review on the super intelligent executive saloon.

What’s the Volvo S60 D4 R-Design All About?

The latest Volvo S60 is Volvo’s challenger to the BMW 3 series saloon. This Volvo 5 door saloon has everything you need from an executive saloon, and more.

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The S60 range has a selection of model variants. The model on test is the D4 R-Design Nav. The D4 means that the car is powered by a 2.0-litre 4-cylinder turbocharged diesel engine. This engine creates 181bhp and a huge 400Nms of torque. Using a 6 speed manual gearbox the car will get from 0-60mph in 7.2 seconds and keep going all the way to 143mph. The best part about it is that whilst having great performance figures the car can also return 65mpg.

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The R-Design means that the car is fitted with a whole host of options including 18” Ixion alloy wheels, twin exhaust, rear spoiler, sports seats, and loads of R-Design badges. The Nav option means it includes a Sensus Connect navigation system, high performance sound system, and a 7” colour display screen with DVD player.

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The exterior body design of the car is fantastic; the solid Rebel blue paint really makes the car stand out on the road. But there are also lots of neatly designed body features which help create a stylish road presence; most of these touches can be found in the front end of the car. Volvo have put grooves down the bonnet and very subtly designed in some flush curves into the lower grill that together give a slightly aggressive edge.

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How does it drive?

The above figures are certainly a good starting point for the S60 D4, but the reality of the driving experience is even better than expected. The 2.0-litre diesel engine packs loads of power and very easily moves the 1,544kg car along.

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It’s rare that you come across a diesel car that is genuinely exciting to drive. The S60 R-Design, with its enhanced chassis improvements, really makes the S60 an engaging car to drive. The ride is firm enough to allow you to throw the car around and be able to feel what is going on, but not too firm that it ruins your trip on a long drive. I certainly enjoyed working my way through the 6-speed manual gearbox in this Volvo; it’s a pleasure on any journey.

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The D4 2.0 litre diesel engine is perfectly balanced at a sweet point of performance between power and economy. When driving the D4 S60 knowing what is under the bonnet you feel as if you are concealing a secret from the other motorists. I say this because you have plenty of power to have a bit of fun on the road, but you’re not doing it at the expense of MPG ratings. Unfortunately, not all economy engines are this much fun to drive.

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There is also a wealth of driving aids and safety features to enhance the driving experience. To list a few you have; Adaptive Cruise Control and Distance Alert, Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake, Pedestrian and Cyclist Detection, Lane Keeping Aid, Driver Alert Control with Active High Beam, Blind Spot Information System, and Park Assist Pilot. Each of these features give an immense amount of value to the driver and make the Volvo very advanced in comparison to other brands, just knowing these systems are enabled make you feel instantly safer in the car.

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What’s it like inside?

Inside the S60 is a very nice place to be. In fact, I’ll go as far as saying that Volvo makes some of the most comfortable seats of any car manufacturer. Looking at the dashboard as a whole, you will notice there are lots of buttons. Although some may consider this to look a bit old school, the layout is actually really simple to use, and a lot faster to operate than those with joy stick systems.

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The information System is very well designed, the car has DAB digital radio, CD, DVD, MP3, Bluetooth, Sat Nav, and a wide array of information menus explaining how the systems on the car work and giving you miles per gallon metrics.

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The driver instruments are one of my favourite features of the interior. The Instruments are completely digital and you can change between 3 modes; elegance, economy, and performance. When switching between modes, it is not only the colours but also how the information is presented that changes, which gives the driver a bit of variety, and assists with suiting the display to however you are feeling.

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The Experience

The experience of the Volvo S60 R-Design is very different from its German rivals. Starting with the exterior the car looks both stylish and expensive but in a very subtle manor. The S60 is now a stronger competitor to the BMW 3 series and the Audi A4 than ever before, and it really has a different feel from both of them. For me buying this Volvo is very smart decision; the styling, driving characteristics, safety features, and practicality elements all just makes sense. And the final point is simply that the car is a great alternative to the market leaders as it has its own flare and uniqueness.

Volvo S60 R-Design Review

Driving the Volvo S60 R-design leaves you feeling content to have a stylish and capable car, but also one that will be able to protect you better than any other.


Volvo are clearly pushing themselves to compete with the premium brands and they have done a fantastic job, the S60 D4 R-Design Nav is a very well balanced car with huge appeal. I wouldn’t be surprised if BMW and Audi start to lose a few customers over to the S60 range.

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Video Highlights


Volvo S60 D4 R-Design
  • Price: £ 36,675
  • Engine: 2.0-Litre Diesel turbocharged
  • Power: 181bhp
  • Torque: 400Nm
  • Transmission: 6 Speed Manual
  • 0-62mph: 7.2 Seconds
  • Top speed: 143mph
  • Weight: 1,544kg
  • Economy combined: 73mpg
  • CO2: 114 g/km

Full Gallery7 Day Diary

Author: Paul Hadley