Our previous grey V70 diesel estate has been snaffled by our colleagues at sister magazine AM, and we’ve taken on their black S60 saloon long termer for a month to try it out.
While the two cars are much different from the outside, underneath they are very similar. Both share the same 2.4-litre 185bhp D5 turbodiesel engine, but the reason for the swap is to assess the different gearboxes on the two cars.
Our V70 was fitted with the Geartronic automatic unit and, to be honest, we found that it didn’t suit the engine – it was too eager to drop down a ratio and lurch forward when all you wanted to do was ride the band of torque.
The S60 is fitted with a six-speed manual gearbox and it’s much better, allowing you to lope through the torque and change up when you want. True, the gearshift is quite a long-throw affair, but it suits the relaxed gait of the S60 well.
And if relaxation could be personified in the interior of a car, I suspect it would resemble the S60.
Despite our test car’s bright red leather seats assaulting the eyes, the chairs themselves are wonderful – the leather is incredibly soft and is draped liberally over the sumptuous seats which welcome you with what can almost be described as an embrace.
Even after hundreds of miles, I found them comfortable and emerged without any aches or pains. With a real-world range of 600 miles on a tank of diesel, this makes the S60 a perfect long distance vehicle. This is despite an average over two months of 37.1mpg – short of Volvo’s claimed figure of 42.8mpg.
On the move, it’s amusing to see how people improve their driving when they see you, such is the air of unmarked police car that the S60 gives off.
The boys in blue are particularly fond of the D5 and with good reason. Acceleration is impressive, especially from 60mph, which is very useful for overtaking.
After trying the two cars back-to-back, it seems the manual gearbox is the way to go – and it is also cheaper. The six-speed Geartronic unit is a £1,350 option on the S60.
Price: £25,005 (£30,725 as tested)
CO2 emissions (g/km): 174
Company car tax bill (2006) 40% taxpayer: £200 per month
Insurance group: 16
Combined mpg: 42.8
Test mpg: 37.1
CAP Monitor RV: £7,400/30%
Contract hire rate: £549
Expenditure to date: Nil