Turbocharged AND supercharged? There's always been something about Swedish cars that sets them apart from the rest of the crowd.
The Swedes have always liked to do things a little differently. Their vehicles may not break necks in a crowd of exotics and performance cars, but they’re always beautifully thought out and have a plethora of features that make them stand out to the automotive community. Take for example this brand-new 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E; its Bright Silver Metallic paint helps it blend in with the sea of grey, but it’s far from boring.
Previously, the “T6” trim level represented Volvo’s use of the turbocharged 6-cylinder engine. Continuing a trend set by competitors such as Mercedes-Benz and BMW, the numbers on the back of the car no longer have much to do with the engine – especially as it relates to the new Drive-E line. Under the hood of the S60 T6 Drive-E is a 2.0L twin-charged 4-cylinder engine. Yes, you read that correctly. For the first time in mass production for North America, there’s an engine that is both turbocharged as well as supercharged.
Packing 302 horsepower and 295 lb-ft of torque, the new engine in the S60 is excellent. Power is very close to the aging turbocharged 6-cylinder, and feels much peppier in lower RPMs thanks to the supercharger. The turbocharger helps it up top, and there’s a noticeable whine from the supercharger as well as a satisfying spool from the turbo during acceleration. For the petrolhead who enjoys a good nerd-out (like me!), this is an awesome new powertrain. Throttle response is awesome, and the Volvo always seems to be ready to pull hard. When the shifter is moved to the left to engage “Sport” mode, it gets even sharper. There’s nowhere in the powerband where the S60 feels like it’s gasping for air.
What did surprise me is that the Drive-E engine is only available right now with front-wheel-drive. 302 horsepower is a bit much for a FWD setup, so the S60 does torque steer a little bit. Despite its tendency to torque steer, I found the S60 to be a pleasure in the corners. It’s not as sharp as an Audi S4 or a Lexus IS F-Sport, but the steering feels meaty and quick. There’s also a new 8-speed automatic transmission, which helps significantly with fuel economy. I learned recently with my time with the new V60 T6 R-Design that the old turbo-six may be a sweet engine, but it’s not what you’d call efficient. Combine this with the addition of start/stop technology and you have a car that’s going to go a lot longer between visits to the gas station.
I filled the S60 Drive-E with 91-octane premium fuel, and in combined driving I observed 8.1L/100km. This is significantly better overall than any of the six-cylinder competitors including the BMW 335i, the Audi S4, and the Lexus IS350 F-Sport. Granted, the Drive-E is a little bit down on power compared to these cars, but it definitely can hold its own.
Whenever I sing praises about newer Volvos to non-enthusiast friends and family, I keep getting asked what it is about them that I like so much. Frankly, the fact that they pack actual driving passion doesn’t really make a difference to the average commuter. What these beauties from Sweden do have to their advantage is interior design, ergonomics, and overall ease of use. Many commuters spend the majority of their time in gridlock, where performance doesn’t matter in the slightest. The Volvo S60 has among the most comfortable, well-bolstered seats of any car I have ever been in. These seats must be sat in to be truly appreciated. The dashboard is beautifully designed and the cabin is just a beautiful and soothing place to be.
My tester was the S60 T6 Drive-E Platinum, which is the top trim level with the twin-charged motor. Priced at just under $49,000, this model comes standard with everything including start/stop technology, a power sunroof, heated leather seats, 18” wheels, a navigation system with 7” screen and real time traffic, rear-view camera, power folding mirrors, Bluetooth, and USB. Volvo’s Keyless Drive system with the Personal Car Communicator is also standard, and I particularly like the simple and elegant design of the key fob. The Volvo infotainment system isn’t the easiest to get used to initially (there isn’t a dedicated control knob to browse through menus), but once you play with it for a while, it’s quite user-friendly.
Volvos have long since known for their safety features, and my S60 tester definitely wasn’t lacking in this department. From lane departure assists to forward collision warning and rear cross-traffic alert, the Drive-E is full of beeps and alerts. It’s a great suite of features for the average driver, considering just how distracted the majority of motorists are. Unlike vibrating seats and loud, annoying sounds in other vehicles, the S60 politely beeps at the driver to make sure he/she is alert and paying attention to the road. If the car senses fatigue, it lets you know via a message in the instrument cluster that it’s time for a break. Neat.
The Drive-E model starts at just over $42,000, which puts it at a surprisingly good value. I personally think the current S60 is one of the most graceful designs on the road right now, and would definitely consider buying one if I were in the market. I think the only thing I would wait for is the implementation of all-wheel-drive on Drive-E cars, and I have no doubts that this is coming much sooner than we think. Until then, the 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E is a car that any buyer in the entry-level luxury sedan market must at least test drive.