Volvo gets clever with

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By NEIL DOWLING

TURBO Eco­Boost en­gines en­liven Carsguide’s favourite Fords. They man­age to do an even bet­ter job in the cars of the Blue Oval’s one­time as­set, Volvo.

Yet Volvo has cut the cord in favour of its own turbo fours, a range it in­tro­duces in the hills over­look­ing Nice, ter­rain we’ve come to know over the years as one to show up short­com­ings.

The sound is very pur­pose­ful, the out­puts look good and the en­gines re­flect the qual­ity con­veyed by the body­work.

But the most re­mark­able thing is that there is no en­gine range — one en­gine block is the ba­sis of diesel and petrol alike and will be able to con­nect to fu­ture elec­tric mo­tors.

Volvo starts

with

a 2.0-litre four-cylin­der.

Power out­puts and char­ac­ter are de­ter­mined by adding one or two tur­bocharg­ers, some with vari­able-ge­om­e­try vanes, and even a su­per­charger in one ver­sion.

It’s a clever con­cept, us­ing economies of scale. In com­mon with the Volk­swa­gen phi­los­o­phy of cre­at­ing one ve­hi­cle ar­chi­tec­ture for all its front-wheel drive cars (also to be adopted by Volvo from 2015), it means one de­sign, one man­u­fac­tur­ing setup and one very de­fined list of com­mon com­po­nents.

The en­gines start ar­riv­ing in the first quar­ter of next year re­plac­ing the Ford-built T4 and T5 (re­spec­tively 1.6 and 2.0-litre it­er­a­tions of the Eco­Boost), un­der­study­ing the ex­ist­ing five and six-cylin­der en- gines. Within a few years, the lat­ter will be phased out and elec­tric mo­tors in­tro­duced to boost per­for­mance and fuel ef­fi­ciency as Volvo moves to an all-four line-up.

For the un­veil­ing at Nice, Volvo shows two mod­els with its turbo four.

The S60 T6, for­merly a petrol six, has petrol or diesel vari­ants.

The su­per­charged and tur­bocharged petrol ver­sion pro­duces 225kW/400Nm and the D4 turbo diesel puts out 133kW/400Nm.

Both are at­tached to a Ja­panese-built Aisin eight­speed au­to­matic with pad­dle shifters (this is a first for Volvo) driv­ing the front wheels.

They wear new noses and grilles, dis­tinc­tive trim and a re­vised list of fea­tures — fi­nal spec and prices for

Aus­tralia are ex­pected to be re­leased soon.

The T6 is not an ex­act match, as the out­go­ing model is a turbo in­line six with all-wheel-drive.

True to form, the four feels a bit lumpier.

The su­per­charger pumps from idle and adds not only a hefty puff of power but also some mi­nor coarse­ness. In its pur­pose­ful, me­chan­i­cal growl it brings to mind the ‘‘Kompressor’’ of Mercedes-Benz’s small­bore fours.

Get above 2000rpm and the gruff­ness di­min­ished, muted by the ad­vent of the tur­bocharger and washed away by the move­ment of air over the body.

The turbo is fully en­gaged by 3500rpm, when the su­per­charger’s clutch dis­en­gages.

The tran­si­tion is lin­ear, marked only by a slight change in note.

Power starts to per­co­late from be­low 1500rpm and is still on the boil by more than 6000rpm.

Per­for­mance is brisk, the 0-100km/h sprint a mere 5.9-sec­ond af­fair.

I’m im­pressed by the silk­i­ness of the eight-speed au­to­matic and en­joy its pad­dle-shift con­trollers.

But while up­shifts are smartly dealt with, there’s lag at low en­gine speeds that’s more in keep­ing with a dual-clutch box.

It’s not the en­gine cre­at­ing this but the torque con­verter. The D4 now matches the 400Nm of the T6 petrol but a bi-turbo will be­come avail­able later.

It runs through the same gear­box so os­ten­si­bly it’s a face-off with its petrol coun­ter­part. Yet, on the road, it’s not.

There’s some diesel griz­zle at idle and low speeds (you’ll hear it com­ing up the road) but it’s sur­pris­ingly lively and re­ally plays the trans- mis­sion to its ad­van­tage.

Torque is strong and there’s no en­cour­age­ment to pick up the next cog quickly. Frankly, it’s a more suit­able en­gine for the city­sub­ur­ban fam­ily.

It will be cheaper than the petrol T6 petrol and its fuel econ­omy will be sub­stan­tially bet­ter.

The D4 is the pick of the bunch, at least un­til we get a chance early next year to drive the turbo petrol T5. VERDICT: The diesel is a sweeter en­gine for buy­ers but the T6 is the one for per­for­mance en­thu­si­asts and Euro­peans on a long, open un­re­stricted high­way.

4½ stars $65,000 (est)

3 years/un­lim­ited km, 3 years’ road­side as­sist

N/A 12 months/15,000km No 5-star 2.0-litre 4-cyl su­per­charged and tur­bocharged, 225kW/400Nm

8-spd auto; FWD BODY: 4.6m (L), 1.9m (W), 1.5m (H) 1540kg 6.4L/100km, 95 RON Space-saver

The Volvo S60 T6, for­merly a petrol six, has petrol or diesel vari­ants

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