February 10, 2014
2015 Volvo S60 T6 FWD & 2015 Volvo V60 T5 FWD. Click image to enlarge
Review and photos by Peter Bleakney
Las Vegas – Sexy Volvo wagon. Yes, you read that right. No, it is not an oxymoron. At least not anymore, now that the 2015 Volvo V60 has hit our shores.
And be assured, our long-suffering Volvo retailers are welcoming this fetching five-door with all the relish of a pack of starving pooches staring down a sack of meatballs.
For the past few years, Volvo has been pretty slim in the product department. But like the proverbial duck in the pond, the calm upper part wasn’t giving away the furious paddling beneath. There’s been a lot going on at Volvo, and we’re seeing the initial phases of what will be Volvo’s largest product rollout in its history.
In mid-2010 Ford sold Volvo to Chinese corporation Geely, and since then there has been a US$11 billion investment in the Swedish automaker. All engineering and development is still done is Sweden, as is most of the manufacturing, although Volvo just opened a plant in China.
Our 2015 models, spearheaded by the V60 sport wagon, represent Phase 2 of the plan that will eventually see all Volvo passenger vehicles using variations of an all-new 2.0L four-cylinder Drive-E powertrain.
Phase 1 constituted last year’s interior and exterior cosmetic changes. Phase 3 will see the adoption of Volvo’s new modular SPA platform, with the first of these vehicles being the 2016 XC90 crossover, arriving spring of 2015.
Volvo’s fully in-house-developed direct-injection 2.0L four-banger is available here in two flavours – single turbo (240 hp, 258 lb-ft/280 overboost), or twincharged – turbocharger and supercharger (302 hp, 295 lb-ft). Both are mated to an Aisin eight-speed automatic transmission.
The engine/tranny Drive-E combo is also prepped for ready electrification, which we will see in the future. No plans for the diesel in North America for now.
Drive-E is available right across our 2015 Volvo lineup – S60, V60, XC60 crossover, S80, XC70 wagon – but only with front-wheel-drive. We won’t see all-wheel-drive Drive-Es until the SPA-platform vehicles come on line.
302 hp Drive-E in 2015 Volvo XC60 & 2015 Volvo V60 T5 FWD. Click image to enlarge
So if you want all-wheel-drive in your 2015 Volvo, you’ll choose between a trio of carryover engines – the 2.5L turbo-five, 3.0L turbo straight-six or naturally aspirated 3.2L straight-six – depending on the model.
But for now, let’s look at the 2015 V60, which is a wagon version of the S60 sedan. While not a fresh piece in Europe, it is new to North America and will surely tempt the Volvo wagon fans among us.
As of mid-January this sport wagon with familiar five- and six-cylinder engines is in Canadian dealerships. The Drive-E four-cylinder model shows up in the spring. The 2015 V60 will be available in five trims – the T5 (240-hp Drive-E four-cylinder FWD), T5 AWD (250-hp five-cylinder AWD), T6 AWD (300-hp six-cylinder AWD) and T6 R-Design (325-hp six-cylinder AWD).
We drove a pre-production base front-drive $39,800 V60 T5 equipped with optional sports suspension, 19-inch alloys and wearing Power Blue paint. Claimed fuel economy is 9.4 L/100 km city, 6.3 L/100 km highway and 8.1 L/100 km combined. At the conclusion of our mostly highway drive, the onboard computer showed 8.2 L/100 km.
2015 Volvo V60 T5 FWD. Click image to enlarge
If you’ve been in an S60 sedan, then the V60’s interior will be familiar. It features exceptional build quality, interesting textures, superb seats and a style all its own – a kind of clean Nordic simplicity with most controls huddled on the “floating” centre console. The buttons are small and fussy but we do like the stylized chromed humanoid HVAC control. [George! – Ed.]
We also like the adaptive TFT (thin film transistor) central gauge display that was introduced on the 2014 models. It offers three “themes” – Performance, Elegance, and Eco.
Volvo tells us the 2.0L four-cylinder engines weigh about 45 kg less than the five- and six-cylinder units, and this V60 does indeed feel less nose-heavy.
The single-turbo 2.0L performs well. It has a broad torque band and is helped in no small part by the eight-speed auto that shifts smoothly and keeps the engine in the meaty part of power delivery. Paddle shifters are standard, and like the eight-speed ZF transmission that BMW uses, this Aisin unit responds immediately to flicks of the fingers.
There are three drive modes, with Sport and Eco+ on either side of the default Drive mode. Sport calls up more aggressive gearbox mapping with further manual control from the paddles while Eco+ relaxes the shift algorithm, reduces throttle sensitivity, alters the HVAC and has the auto start/stop shutting the engine down before the car rolls to a stop.