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Review: 2015 Volvo S60 T6 Drive-E
Supercharged and Turbocharged

Kamil Kaluski April 10, 2014 Featured, Reviews, Volvo Reviews 27 Comments

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e side

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e engineRemember the 1995 Volvo 850 T-5R? Of course, how could anyone not. The boxy performance sedan had just enough appearance cues to be ignored by the masses and adored by its fans. With 243hp it ran 0-60mph sprint in mid-five second range and it pulled almost 0.90g on the skidpad, its performance surpassed those looks. This made the T-5R one of the most special Volvos for a very special group of people, and you know who you are.

This 2015 S60 T6 has 302hp and 295lb-ft of torque. By conservative factory estimates it does 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, but it feels faster than that. Despite the T6 nomenclature, this 2015 S60 is powered by the supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder engine. The old fives and sixes are dead (almost), long live the new fours. I won’t beat around the bush, this new engine is amazing!

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e front 34

The theory is simple and known to all enthusiasts, yet rarely implemented: superchargers run off a crank pulley and produce almost instantaneous power, but are not very efficient; turbochargers make power at higher engine speeds as the compressor is spooled by exhaust gases, putting no strain on the engine. Volvo mounted one of each to a new direct-injected engine, added some fuel-saving magic (auto-stop/start is annoying but easily defeatable), an eight-speed automatic transmission, and ended up with an engine that has plenty of power throughout the rpm range and still gets great gas mileage – 24mpg city, 35mpg highway.

The trend to change to smaller (displacement and cylinder-count) force-fed engines has been going on for some time. Unfortunately a lot of times those new powertrains are disappointing (I won’t name any names *cough* BMW *cough*), lacking in low-end power, being slow to respond, and not all that fuel efficient. Not the T6. It powers off the line with no delay and keeps pulling to the redline. It is a very responsive and a genuinely fun powertrain, and the little sedan feels damn fast. A quick look at the numbers reveals that the horsepower-to-weight ratio of the S60 T6 is somewhere between the Subaru WRX and the BMW 335i.  

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e dash

The downside of this extra power is more evident torque-steer, especially in this front-wheel-drive vehicle. If Volvo were to implement an AWD system similar to Audi’s Quattro or even Acura’s Super-Handling system, the overall fun factor would skyrocket. I reviewed the five-cylinder 2014 S60 T5 last year and I complained that the vehicle seemed under-tired and prone to understeer. This 2015 vehicle was wearing bigger, nineteen inch wheels and “lower sport chassis” which seemed have reduced the understeer significantly. This vehicle seemed more tossable and just more fun to drive. It would probably be a lot of fun on the track or an autocross course.

There are no other significant changes to the S60 from last year’s model when it received a minor facelift but that engine should be considered a big one. The interior is very nice but it is showing its age. The infotainment screen in a little small and the array of buttons below looks cool but is not very ergonomic. The seats are fantastic, as always on a Volvo, both in comfort and quality, and the visibility all around is superior. There is plenty of room for tall goons upfront, but rear seats are short on legroom. The trunk is spacious, with a nifty divider for grocery bags and 70:30 split rear seat with a ski pass-thru.

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e interior details

The S60 with the new Drive-E powerplant starts at $33,300 for the turbocharged T5 model. There are four models: base, Premier, Premier Plus, and Platinum. Each one is available in T5 (turbo) or T6 (turbo and supercharged) Drive-E formats. Currently, the Drive-E models are front-wheel-drive only. S60 AWD models are mated to the older five and six cylinder engines. The vehicle pictured is a Platinum T6 model with a $1250 sport chassis and wheels package, $1500 technology package, $800 xenon headlights, $900 blind spot detection, $550 metallic paint, and $500 heated front seats. The total MSRP for this fully loaded car comes to $47,925, including destination.

Like other companies that were once owned by Ford, Volvo is digging itself out from the little runt it got itself into over the years, and this is a great start. Volvo has also been making news with an amazing concept, the return of the wagon, and the upcoming XC90, the first model developed independently of Ford. If this new engine is any indication of things to come, then we should expect Volvo to come back to its glory day status very quickly.

Now, about that S60 T5-R… I’ll take mine in cream yellow with titanium gray wheels.

2014 Volvo S60 drive-e rear 34

Disclaimer: Volvo provided the vehicle for the purpose of this review.

[Images: copyright 2014 Hooniverse/Kamil Kaluski]


  • Hatchtopia

    300+ hp and 35 mpg highway? We are truly living in a golden age.

  • Felis_Concolor

    Short and sweet review. However . . . [fucking pedant]turbochargers are superchargers; use the term 'blower' instead for directly coupled mechanical superchargers as opposed to indirectly coupled mechanical superchargers, aka turbos.[/fucking pedant] And don't confuse the 2 subtypes with chemical superchargers, which are pronounced 'nitrous' for short.

    • I knew that was coming, but c'mon, this is a car review and not a technical while paper written to support my Ph. D. thesis.

      As far as every single person who knows a little about cars in concerned, it's turbocharger and supercharger. I'm addressing a wide general audience here and not a bunch of guys in labs coats.

      • Felis_Concolor

        No problem; I've just been a stickler for that terminology after coming across a couple of articles some decades ago detailing the primary differences between "power adders," which is a term you'll rarely hear outside the field of drag racing.

        The engine's whiz-bang technology is impressive and I'd be especially interested in its applications as a self contained "crate motor" package for use in older vehicle engine bays. Having spent more than half my life at high altitudes I came to appreciate the benefits of forced induction early on, and seeing what was once a racecar-only technique now available on dealer lots is greatly pleasing, though my parents' disastrous experience with a 760 Turbo Volvo in the late 80s has kept me from considering their offerings for the past couple decades.

        Hmm, perhaps that dashboard's appearance is giving me uncomfortable flashbacks; I am reminded of that 760's Wall of Buttons center console.

        • Yup, I know where you're coming from.

          Small packaging and good power, this has solid crate motor potential, but I doubt that it will ever be sold as such. You maybe limited to scouring junk yards in your area few years from now.

      • "I'm addressing a wide general audience here and not a bunch of guys in labs coats."

        Okay, but I'm not taking off my lab coat every time I want to read Hooniverse.

        • dr zero

          I do, but only because it's dirty and smelly.

  • Sjalabais

    Great review, well-written. There's proper excitement stuffed in between those digital letters. So what you're saying is you don't shed a tear for the I5?

    19 inch wheels seem like overkill though – they look too big, too.

    Can you guys manage an actual comparison to the Subaru and the BMW?

    • The I5 was nice, but it wasn't great. It had neither the fuel economy of a four nor the power of a six. It felt like a torque-y aged four-cylinder that did not enjoy high rpms.

      Yes, I'd go with smaller wheels and better tires.

      What do you have in mind as a comparison?

      • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        Oh they enjoy 5K+ RPM… nice flat torque too. You have to be careful, some of the I5s were like 2.2-2.3L 11.3 compression and I could imagine they were not fun if the last guy that reviewed it before you filled it up with the cheapest regular he could find. Those did lose the feeling of being able to pull more with the pedal down.

        • Sjalabais

          Agreed. And then there is not the entirely unimportant sound of the I5. Trying to find a good video is really hard, but this comes close:

          [youtube pQTMFXa-h0I http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pQTMFXa-h0I youtube]

          Comparo: Try to get the S60 T6, the Subaru WRX and the BMW 335i to a track, then go shopping with them with two child seats in the back. Invite the regular car guy to do a hattrick for the Hooniverse. Something like that. A review is nice, but imho it usually gets really interesting when you have several cars to compare in different disciplines.

          • That's pretty much beyond the scope of my limits. Maybe when/if Jeff moves back east, but even then, scheduling several similar cars, setting everything up, it's not as easy as it sounds. And then you want it on a track? Motor Trend is your answer… but they only do that with Corvettes, M3s, and GT-R because that's what sells the magazine.

            I had three first greaters in booster seats in the Volvo and they were fit surprisingly well. Had a Recaro booster and convertible seats together, and those fit well too. Leg room was a bit of an issue, like I mentioned. I didn't try a rear-facing seat, whcih take up the most space.

            • Sjalabais

              Well, I can imagine it's hard when the audience wants everything. =8^) With Top Gear as the leading star of some kind of motor journalism, track tests of everyday cars should be more common in established media. I mean, the word "Nürburgring" seems to be mandatory for press releases…

              Regarding leg room – I'm just waiting for all the Chinese L-versions to get to Europe and the US. It is incredible how little legroom some engineers do calculate for. Yesterday, I had four child seats in my Honda Stream, an occasional seven seater. The seats lift the children up and back a little. Still, leg room was scarce – for three year olds!

  • Scandinavian Flick ★

    I like that the difference between a Hooniverse review and general car magazine reviews is more focus on the performance and tossability of the car.

    I'm kinda surprised that torque steer is an issue on a modern car. I thought they had somewhat figured out how to compensate for that by now… I'm also not sure what it is that's bugging me about that interior. The gauge cluster looks really nice, and it's comfortable looking overall, but it's also really bland and uninspiring. Not very Yer-a-peein' luxury there…

    Overall, I'm glad to see this trend towards better times in Volvo's history. But I also was disappointed in seeing them pull a BMW and deviate from naming systems that stated the engine specs. Really? A 4 cyl. T6?

      • Scandinavian Flick ★

        That does look a lot better. I tried looking up some more as well, and this version on Motortrend's review is even better yet.

        <img src="http://i.imgur.com/bxh9pec.jpg&quot; width="500">

        The strictly business gray makes it look like a regular economy car…

    • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

      Me too Flick, me too, I mean my 122s has five doors and is not a sedan at all! They really lost their way a while back with the naming.

      • Vairship

        The 122 is an entry level 2-cylinder 2-door, right? 😉

  • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

    Kamil I am sad you did not let me know you were getting this so I could see it in person 🙁 Our families are now mortal enemies.

    Okay enough time has passed, hostilities have ceased. What is that Drive-E buisiness, the start/stop? And what do you mean easy to defeat. Also, most importantly, how does the car sound?

    • 1. Drive-E, that's what they call the family of the new 2-liter 4-cylinder engines.
      2. Engine shuts off when you're stopped at a red light.
      3. Press dash button and it will stop shutting off at red lights, will just idle as intended.
      4. Very quiet, no distinct engine sound.

      • ˏ♂ˊ mzs zsm msz esq

        Pity about the quiet… would have been nice to hear the turbo some at least. The engine start/stop did not work well in some way so you disabled it? Was it worse than other cars in that regard?

        • It works as designed, as it does on every car so equipped. I don't like it on every car. 🙂

          • Number_Six

            The start-stop thing is great if you regularly drive in San Francisco/LA/Toronto/NYC bumper to bumper traffic. However, it nearly killed me in Ireland before I figured out how to disable it. Pulling out onto narrow roads with obstructed visibility and cars going past at 70MPH and having the engine quit just as you want to floor it is not ideal.

            • I'm in downtown Boston, traffic up the wazoo. I still hate it unless it's a hybrid.

  • wunno sev

    i'll miss the five-banger, but all good things, &c. at least this new engine gets some good technology and puts it to good use.

    if i some day come to accept that i'll have to buy cars without three pedals, maybe i will have one of these in my distant future.

  • craigsu

    One can only imagine what the boffins at Polestar have planned for this engine.