2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E FWD Review
Two Chargers Make for One Sweet Swede
While the loss of money and shared resources would have hurt a lot of organizations, Volvo was determined to come out of this situation stronger after separating from Ford in 2010. Knowing the brand had to now become independent, the manufacturer has been working hard on the next generations of Volvos.
|1. A 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder that makes 302 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque.
2. The T6 Drive-E FWD comes equipped with an eight-speed automatic transmission.
3. The S60 T6 Drive-E FWD is officially rated at 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway.
4. Pricing for the 2015 S60 T5 Drive-E FWD begins at $34,225 before destination charges.
After a few years of minor tweaks and mild styling refreshes, 2014 marks the start of a new era. Later in the year an all-new XC90 crossover will set the benchmark and styling direction of all future Volvos. But in the meantime, a new family of engines has debuted. Dubbed Drive-E, the new group of engines are set to replace all current Volvo power-plants in the coming years.
Drive-E Twin-Charged Power
To start, only front-wheel drive (FWD) Volvos will receive Drive-E power-trains as all-wheel drive (AWD) versions are still a few years away. For North America, the Drive-E engines come from a 2.0-liter four-cylinder in two states of tune. The first version is dubbed the T5 and receives a turbocharger to produce 240 hp and 258 lb-ft of torque. The naming convention used here is to indicate which engine the new Drive-E four-cylinder is destined to replace. The T5 is a turbocharged five-cylinder replacement while the T6 is the turbocharged inline-six replacement.
See Also: 2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E FWD Review
Making things confusing for consumers however, is that the old engines are still available on AWD versions of cars like the S60 sedan. For 2015, this car can be had as a T5 Drive-E FWD (new four-cylinder), T5 AWD (old five-cylinder), T6 Drive-E FWD (new four-cylinder) and T6 AWD (old six-cylinder).
Volvo’s First Eight-Speed
Aside from the new engine, Drive-E equipped cars also come with a new eight-speed automatic transmission. Paired to the T6 twin-charged engine, this drivetrain turns the Volvo S60 into quite the efficient rocket. Volvo claims the car can hit 60 mph from a standstill in just 5.6 seconds. That makes the S60 one of the fastest front-wheel drive vehicles on the market today.
The T6 Drive-E engine makes gobs of power thanks to the trick dual charger system. Lower engine speeds up to 3,500 rpm utilize the supercharger, which produces instant wheel spinning torque. Once at 3,500 rpm, the turbocharger has spooled up and takes over to keep power building all the way up to redline. It really is the best of both worlds since there is no turbocharger lag to wait for initially and no supercharger power-trail-off at higher rpms. It all adds up to quite possibly the most responsive four-cylinder we have ever driven. Power is always on tap and the transition between supercharger and turbocharger is seamless. Plus, the low rpm supercharger whining mixed in with higher rpm turbocharge whooshes makes for a fantastic soundtrack. How long until the aftermarket turns up the volume on both?
Not Just Fast, But Also Efficient
In an impressive display of Swedish engineering magic, despite having two forms of forced induction the 302 hp 2.0 liter engine is quite efficient. Thanks in part to the well programed eight-speed automatic, the S60 T6 Drive-E FWD is officially rated at 24 mpg city and 35 mpg highway. During a 70 mile drive of predominantly country roads, we averaged 31.3 mpg, which is not far off of the Volvo V60 wagon we also drove that day with the less powerful turbocharged-only T5 Drive-E engine. And like the wagon, the S60 T6 Drive-E can further bolster fuel economy via an Eco+ mode that automatically transfers the car into neutral when off the accelerator pedal coasting occurs to save fuel.
We found the ride in the S60 was not as smooth as found in the V60 Wagon despite both vehicles being outfitted with the optional sports suspension and 235/40R19 tires. Maybe it was all in our head due to the more powerful engine, but the S60 felt more agile in the corners and responded better to our inputs. Although no official number has been reported as of yet, expect the 2015 Volvo S60 with either Drive-E engine to be lighter than the 2014 S60 T5 FWD’s weight of 3,528 lbs. And as a bonus, since it shares the same basic platform and chassis with the V60, the S60 is officially rated to tow 3,330 lbs; you’d be hard pressed to find another compact luxury sedan capable of that.
Still Crazy About Safety
In the quest for sport and efficiency, Volvo has not forgotten the core pillar it has built a long-standing reputation on – safety. The 2015 S60 is available with all the latest safety systems like pedestrian and cyclist alert with full vehicle braking if the driver doesn't respond in time. Our test vehicle also featured Volvo’s new Lane Keeping Aid that will help steer a vehicle back into its lane if a driver starts crossing over the line. We had a chance to test this system and found the strange feeling of having the steering wheel automatically move in our hands took some getting used to. After testing it out in several different scenarios, we found it works well on straight roads and those with gradual bends. The system has trouble in sharper bends however as it reacts too late and by then the car is already halfway into another lane.
In case an accident occurs, the interior of the S60 is stuffed full of safety technology like the side impact protection system (SIPS), roll-over protection system (ROPS), whiplash protection system (WHIPS) and of course airbags galore.
Small and Outdated Inside
The interior’s design was updated last year and we do like the revisions, but find some components that were left uncharged, like the display screen and dashboard top, look grossly out of date. We do like the customizable gauge cluster, two-tone comfortable front seats and great sounding stereo. Volvo has finally added paddle shifters to the S60 and the quality of these paddles feels great.
The rear seat is a bit tight and only offers 33.5 inches of rear legroom. We were able to fit a s-xi-foot-tall passenger back there, but three would be quite uncomfortable. The trunk is also on the small side offering a mere 12 cubic feet of total cargo carrying capacity.
Pricing for the 2015 S60 T5 Drive-E FWD begins at $34,225 including destination charges. That is a $900 increase over the 2014 turbocharged five-cylinder S60 T5 FWD, but the new model is faster and more efficient. There previously was no S60 T6 FWD, but the 2015 T6 Drive-E FWD will begin at $39,075 which is about $1,100 cheaper than the similarly powered, turbocharged six-cylinder T6 AWD.
Volvo has been serious about developing new products since leaving Ford, as evident by the company’s $11 billion investment commitment to reinvent the brand. The company is also doing things right. Instead of rushing the new family of engines into production, Volvo slipped the Drive-E powertrain into the 2011 World Touring Car S60 for further, strenuous testing. It appears to have paid off as the new twin-charged engine is great unit. If this is what the future of Volvo holds, we look forward to it.