2015 Volvo S60: Double The Boost, Double the Trouble?
May 27, 2015
Turbocharged and supercharged. It still sounds a little ridiculous, like some sort of powertrain combo your little brother cooked up in Gran Turismo for his fully-modded 600-horsepower Toyota MR2. But a real world car? A front-wheel-drive, four-cylinder Volvo no less? No way.
Yet here we are in our 2015 Volvo S60 T6, a car that doubles down on boost like a card shark in Vegas with an 11 at the blackjack table.
Volvo says the supercharger kicks in first at low rpm (superchargers are inherently good at developing immediate power), doing the hard labor until the turbocharger is primed and ready to take over applying the majority of high-rpm boost. No doubt there's a lot of complex job-duty sharing going on in the middle of all that, but the power baton handoff isn't noticeable at all.
The S60 T6 moves off right at idle and doesn't feel slow at low rpm. Punch the gas and the S60 is smooth and strong. Put a typical motorist in our S60 and I guarantee that he or she would have no idea of the alchemy happening under the hood.
Fuel economy is the main driver behind Volvo's new line of engines. The older twin-turbo inline-6 (which is still used in the all-wheel-drive S60) is rated at 21 mpg combined. For our car, it's an EPA-estimated 28 mpg. We're not seeing that number yet, but our year-long test is still young.
One thing we won't be able to evaluate with our car is long-term engine reliability and durability. It's a new engine family for Volvo, and added complexity can mean added problems when you're keeping a car for many years. From a car purchasing standpoint, and not necessarily leasing, it's something I'd consider.
But I'd also give Volvo some benefit of the doubt. The company plans to fit this engine in most of its new and upcoming vehicles. Given how important it is, I'd like to think that plenty of thoughtful R&D is behind it.
Brent Romans, Senior Automotive Editor @ 5,463 miles