Remember the old guys who wore suspenders and a belt to keep their britches up? Well, Volvo is reviving that principle with its new family of four cylinder engines.
Eventually, the modern four bangers will rule the roost. But for now they are confined to the engine bays of three 2015 models: S60 sedan, V60 station wagon and XC60 crossover utility vehicle.
There are two versions from Volvo’s “modular engine platform,” which eventually will be used as the cradle for an entire family of powerful, fuel efficient and clean gasoline and diesel engines.
They are designated as the T5 and T6, with the latter taking the unusual belt and suspenders approach, with a supercharger and turbocharger combined to seamlessly deliver power.
The supercharger, which runs directly off the engine, provides low rpm boost for rapid throttle response off the line. As the revs build, the supercharger disengages and the turbocharger takes over. Spun by exhaust gas, it progressively increases the power by forcing more air into the engine’s cylinders as the rpms rise.
Eventually, Volvo plans to have eight four-cylinder engines in the family: four diesel and four gasoline. For 2015 in the U.S., there are two, both gasoline. The T6, with the turbo/supercharger combination, delivers 302 horsepower and is available in the V60 sedan and the XC60 crossover. The T5, which uses only a turbo, is rated at 240 horsepower and can be ordered in those two models as well as in the new V60 station wagon.
For now, the wagon gets only the 2.0-liter T5 engine, which turns out to be plenty for the 3,790-pound machine. Volvo rates its zero to 60 acceleration time at 6.1 seconds, with EPA city/highway/combined fuel economy of 25/37/29 mpg with front-wheel drive. All-wheel drive is not yet available.
The wagon essentially is a stretched roof version of the S60 sedan, which offers more choices but less utility. It can be ordered with either the 240- or 302-horsepower engine and with front- or all-wheel drive.
Throughout most of its history, Volvo has been almost synonymous with station wagons, which had reputations for rugged durability because some of them actually were built on truck chassis.
But American buyers, having sworn off the big family haulers of the 1960s and ‘70s from General Motors, Ford and Chrysler, have largely abandoned traditional station wagons in favor of sport utility and crossover utility vehicles.
In Europe, wagons are considered by many consumers as a step up from a sedan. But those generally smaller machines have not found favor here. Volvo dropped its last wagon, the V50, about three years ago so it is hailing the 2015 V60 as the revival of the station wagon.
In truth, the V60 is little more than an S60 sedan with a stretched roof. Overall dimensions are similar, with the wagon about an inch longer and a slightly smaller passenger compartment. But it has almost two cubic feet more cargo space than the sedan, which can be expanded by folding the rear seatbacks. Even at that, the basic cargo space measures just 15.2 cubic feet, about the same as you’d find in a mid-size sedan.
But the V60 also has a devilish sporting persona, slick looking with a sinuous roofline that flows from the top of the windshield down to the rear bumper. In profile, it looks almost like a pricey Jaguar.
Even without the turbo/supercharger combo, the V60 delivers instant throttle response off the line with no discernible turbo lag. The eight-speed automatic transmission, which can be shifted manually, shifts easily or snappily depending on how hard the driver jams the throttle.
Handling is of the point and shoot variety, with quick turn-in and middling road feel from the electric power steering. The ride is sports sedan firm and the cabin is devoid of mechanical, road and wind noise.
Volvo always has nurtured a reputation for safety, even when other manufacturers caught up. One of those elements was excellent seats, which are one of the V6’s endearing features. They deliver outstanding comfort and lateral support.
Minor quarrels include sun visors that do not slide on their support rods to block sun from the side and the lack of a spare wheel and tire. The weight saving substitute is an air pump with sealant, which is useless in a blowout. But there’s always free roadside assistance.
2015 Volvo V60 T5 four-door station wagon.
Engine: 2.0-liter four cylinder, turbocharged, 240 horsepower.
Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with manual shift mode; front wheel drive.
Overall length: 15 feet 3 inches.
EPA passenger/cargo volume: 92/15 cubic feet.
Weight: 3,790 pounds.
EPA city/highway/combined fuel consumption: 25/37/29 mpg.
Base price, including destination charge: $36,225.
Price as tested: $42,225.