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Volvo S60 and V60 2014 Review

EXPERT RATING
7
Scandinavians are known for their elegance and beauty, but some of them have more than a pretty face.

Scandinavians are known for their elegance and beauty, but some of them have more than a pretty face. The new Volvo S60 sedanV60 wagons and XC60 SUVs due in Australia in October can lay claim to that. They have a new expressive front with `wolf-eye' headlights, a wider horizontal-barred grille, beautifully integrated twin tailpipes and clean contours.

DESIGN

Inside, upgrades include new upholstery colours, new (real) wood dash trim, silk metal frames around the air vents and light controls and the option of body-hugging sports seats. "It's very cosy," design director Lena Jiseborn said. "Like being in a warm Swedish house on a cold night."

The cars offer a vast range of gear, among them a choice of four chassis settings, three interior graphic themes, Adaptive Digital Display, City Safety system, which avoids running into cars or pedestrians and now also has cyclist identification and an all-new infotainment system with Cloud-based services.

Of special interest is Volvo's new permanent high beam system. It uses a clever projector module in the headlight to prevent dazzling oncoming drivers by shading out only as much of the beam as necessary. Same applies to drivers in preceding cars.

ENGINE AND TRANSMISSION

Under the bonnet from around March next year, there will be compact four-cylinder Volvo-built and designed engines, which are expected to propel the brand to new heights in the marketplace.

Called Drive-E, the lightweight 2.0 litre powerplants, in petrol and diesel, can also easily be electrified via plug-in hybrid technology, which will boost power figures into V8 territory.

The Drive-E motors all use the same aluminium engine platform and will replace the eight different-sized engines now in use. Only the cylinder heads will vary from one model to the next. As a result, production costs will be substantially cut and the various technologies will give fuel savings of 10 to 30 per cent while at the same time boosting power.

It starts with the new S60, V60 and XC60. The S60 T6 with the new motor from early next year, will have a super- and turbo-charged 228kW/400Nm output, the T5 182kW/350Nm and the turbo-diesel D4 135kW/400Nm. The advanced powertrains, which include an eight-speed Aisin-Warner automatic transmission with paddleshift, should put `bloody Volvo drivers' at the forefront of respect.

TECHNOLOGY

Volvo is acutely aware that many people are still under the illusion that the number of cylinders equate to performance, but is convinced its smaller, more intelligent motors and plug-in technology are the way forward. "The power you get from an engine has nothing to do with its size," Volvo engineering vice president Derek Crabb said. And with years at Rolls-Royce, Bentley, BMW and Lotus, plus Formula 1 behind him, he knows. "The secret's in the amount of air. If you can get more air through a smaller engine, you can still get the same power but at better efficiency," he said.

THE DRIVE

We had a drive of two versions of the new Volvos with the new drivetrains in France and had to agree with Mr Crabb: Smaller is smarter. And faster. And more fuel efficient.
More fun, too.

We drove a S60 T6 sedan and later a V60 (the coupe-like wagon) D4 on the narrow, scary mountain roads outside Nice and were more than impressed at their ease in coping with the steep climbs, tight corners and stopping abilities.

However, despite the extra power of the T6 and identical torque, the diesel was our pick. It had faster response and felt more at home, especially in traffic. The steering and brakes were particularly impressive in both cars, and the transmission in the diesel had a quicker gearshift than the T6.

However, the petrol model would certainly be quicker on a fast, flowing autoroute. It's a smooth ride in the T6, with the low-pressure supercharger providing the bottom end torque from start-up and the turbocharger kicking in seamlessly when the airflow builds up.

The Drive-E petrol engines also get ballbearings on the cams to reduce friction, continuous variable valve timing and a variable electric water pump. They are ready for electrification and a future electric motor can be fitted front or rear of the vehicle, with the lithium battery pack in the middle.

The smaller combustion motor also gave the engineers more space to add finesse to components such as the front suspension, steering and brakes and both cars were faultless in those respects. Fuel consumption with new eight-speed auto is 4.1 litres/100 km in the S60, 4.2 l/100 km in the V60 and 4.6 l/100 km in the XC60. The D4 (diesel) gets an average 3.7litres/100km.

Acceleration is pretty good too, our T6 capable of getting to 100km/h in just under seven seconds. And the diesel engine, when fitted with the electric motor, will crank out more than 600Nm and run from zero to 100km/h in 6.1 seconds.

VERDICT

Volvo Car Australia has not yet finalised model specifications or prices for the local marketplace, but we like the new models’ style and thinking. That four-potter, in both petrol and diesel, is a cracker.

 

Pricing guides

$25,100
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$17,200
Highest Price
$33,000

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
D4 Kinetic 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $18,000 – 25,080 2014 Volvo V60 2014 D4 Kinetic Pricing and Specs
D4 Luxury 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $19,500 – 27,170 2014 Volvo V60 2014 D4 Luxury Pricing and Specs
T5 Kinetic 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $18,200 – 25,410 2014 Volvo V60 2014 T5 Kinetic Pricing and Specs
T5 Luxury 2.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $21,400 – 29,040 2014 Volvo V60 2014 T5 Luxury Pricing and Specs
EXPERT RATING
7
Pricing Guide

$15,400

Lowest price, based on third party pricing data

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