2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E First Test
Supercharger and Turbocharger Living in Harmony
Volvo is rolling out its new Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) family of engines for the 2015 model year. Based on a 2.0-liter four-cylinder design, the VEA will be built in several gas and diesel variants, with high-performance hybrid, plug-in hybrid, and all-wheel-drive models arriving later. Motivation for the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E comes from the most powerful VEA gas engine: a supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 mated to an eight-speed automatic. Although this type of twin-charging isn't a new concept, tuning the two power-adders to work together smoothly is no easy task.
The twin-charged 2.0-liter I-4 and a new eight-speed automatic supplant the turbocharged 3.0-liter I-6 and six-speed auto in the outgoing S60 T6 model. Despite the inherent differences between the two powerplants, peak horsepower and torque are reached at similar revs. The new engine produces 302 hp at 5700 rpm and 295 lb-ft of torque at 2100 rpm, while the outgoing 3.0-liter I-6 makes 300 hp at 5600 rpm and 325 lb-ft at 2100 rpm. (The 2015 S60 T6 R-Design AWD is still powered by a 325-hp, 354 lb-ft turbo 3.0-liter I-6.)
Instant boost from the Eaton supercharger gives the 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E a strong torque hit below 3500 rpm, giving the BorgWarner turbocharger time to spool up for the top-end pull to redline. Other than the lack of supercharger whine at higher engine speeds, the changeover from supercharger to turbocharger is seamless. The twin-charged powerplant doesn't sound as strong as it feels, thanks to its smooth power delivery just off idle to the top of the rev range.
In addition to the new engine and eight-speed automatic, the Drive-E engine also features direct injection, integrated start/stop, and an Eco mode that contribute to a significant improvement in fuel economy, according to Volvo. Although official EPA estimates haven't been released, the automaker claims the S60 T6 Drive-E sedan's twin-charged powertrain is capable of 24/35 mpg city/highway – a sizable improvement over the front-drive 2014 S60 T5's 21/30 mpg and the all-wheel-drive S60 T6's 18/25 mpg EPA-estimated ratings.
At the dragstrip, the 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E sprinted to 60 mph in 5.4 seconds and cleared the quarter-mile in 13.9 seconds at 101.8 mph – that's an 0.3-second improvement in both tests as well as a 3.1-mph higher trap speed over our former long-term 300-hp 2012 Volvo S60 T6 AWD. At 108 feet, the 2015 S60 stopped two feet shorter than the 2012 model. In handling, the front-drive 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E lapped the figure eight in 26.3 seconds at 0.71 g average and pulled 0.88 g around the skidpad. Those numbers are only slightly off the all-wheel-drive 2012 S60 T6 sedan's 26.2 second lap at 0.68 g average and 0.89 g around the figure eight and skidpad, respectively.
Those performance numbers also are comparable to our previous long-term rear-drive 2012 BMW 328i Sport with 240 hp and 255 lb-ft. That manual-transmission Bimmer reached 60 mph in 5.5 seconds and finished the quarter-mile in 14.1 seconds at 98.2 mph. Braking from 60 mph took 113 feet. In handling, the 328i Sport matched the 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E's 26.3-second figure-eight lap, but averaged a slightly slower 0.70 g, though it pulled a slightly higher 0.89 g around the skidpad. Despite the power difference, the price difference is in the Volvo's favor. With a base price of $39,075, our 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E tester starts $1650 less than the 2014 BMW 328i Sport's base price of $40,725.
In addition to having impressive track numbers, the 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E feels quick and surefooted on the street. Despite being front-drive, the 2015 S60 T6 Drive-E puts the power down well even while accelerating up curved onramps and on interchanges. In daily driving, the changeover from supercharger to turbo is imperceptible and the eight-speed automatic shifts smoothly even in Sport mode.
With a base price of $39,075 (including $925 destination) our 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E tester topped out at $47,925. The option list includes $550 metallic paint, $1250 BOR diamond-cut 19-inch alloy wheels and lower sport suspension, $800 active HID headlights with washers, $500 heated front seats, the $3350 Platinum trim (navigation with real time traffic, Volvo Premier sound system, auto dimming interior and exterior mirrors, accent lighting, HomeLink integrated garage door opener, power folding side mirrors, rearview camera, grocery bag holder), $1500 Technology Package (adaptive cruise control with queue assist, collision warning with full auto brake, pedestrian/cyclist detection with auto brake, distance alert and driver alert control, lane departure warning, active high-beam assist, road sign information), and $900 Blind Spot Information Package (blind-spot information system, cross-traffic alert, lane-change merge aid, front and rear park assist).
A few quibbles with the technology: The lane-departure warning system interprets strips of slurry patches -- or other random road oddities – as lane markers, prompting correction, and the distance alert and driver alert control system is a bit aggressive in Los Angeles traffic. Fortunately, these can be turned off if not needed. All that safety technology helps the 2015 Volvo S60 earn a five-star (out of five stars) crash rating from the NHTSA and the refreshed 2014 S60 is considered a Top Safety Pick+ by the IIHS.
Without low-speed lag or dropoff at high rpm, the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E's twin-charged 2.0-liter four-cylinder feels like a much larger naturally aspirated engine. Even more impressive is how smooth the new eight-speed automatic works with the engine as it seamlessly transitions between the supercharger and turbocharger. We look forward to testing the all-wheel-drive model, whether the rear wheels are mechanically driven or electrically driven with the new hybrid/plug-in hybrid technology.
|2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E|
|PRICE AS TESTED||$47,925|
|VEHICLE LAYOUT||Front-engine, FWD, 5-pass, 4-door sedan|
|ENGINE||2.0L/302-hp/295-lb-ft supercharged DOHC 24-valve I-4|
|CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)||3687 lb (63/37%)|
|LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT||182.5 x 73.4 x 58.4 in|
|0-60 MPH||5.4 sec|
|QUARTER MILE||13.9 sec @ 101.8 mph|
|BRAKING, 60-0 MPH||108 ft|
|LATERAL ACCELERATION||0.88 g (avg)|
|MT FIGURE EIGHT||26.3 sec @ 0.71 g (avg)|
|EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON||24/35/28 mpg|
|ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY||140/96 kW-hrs/100 miles|
|CO2 EMISSIONS||0.69 lb/mile|