Volvo gets clever with
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.
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