2014 Volvo S60 T6, with 2015 Drive-E powertrain - First Drive, September 2013
Across the board, Volvo is also phasing in a new eight-speed automatic transmission with the new engines, replacing the existing six-speed and allowing a wider span of ratios. Engine stop-start is included (in our test car it was definitely less noticeable than BMW’s system), and these engines are poised to take on a variety of future electrification options (to be used in the XC90), from starter-alternator mild hybrid systems to electric motors at the rear wheels.
And if you didn’t catch the reference, paddle shifters, a feature remarkably absent from the entire S60 lineup until now, have been added for 2014 as well. Likewise, the sport seats that Volvo offers in those upgraded models have more aggressive side bolsters and somewhat longer thigh support yet retain their all-day comfort.
Major upgrades for 2014; Drive-E for 2015
Again, hold your horses; while the new engines and transmission are slated to begin arriving in early calendar-year 2014, the paddle-shifters and upgraded sport seats have already arrived, for the 2014 model year. So has a new face that brings a bit more elegance and charm, with light horizontal brightwork at the grille, a resculpted hood, different lower aero work, and headlights that look just a little more upright. In back a new exhaust outlet is the only change versus outgoing 2013s.
Inside there’s more change, though. One of the most noticeable differences is right in front of the driver; most of the S60 lineup now gets a TFT instrument panel in which you can select from three different themes: Elegance, Performance, and Eco. The themes have corresponding colors, of course (Eco is green, while Performance paints the night red), but they also get an entirely different layout—especially in Performance, where the inner rim of the central ring turns into a tachometer, with a digital speedo in the middle.
2014 Volvo S60 T6, with 2015 Drive-E powertrain - First Drive, September 2013Enlarge Photo
We expected safety leadership in Volvos, and we get a broadened suite of accident-avoidance aids in the 2014 S60. Several new radar-based features have been added to support the automaker’s Blind Spot Information System (BLIS). A Lane Change Merge Aid acts as a proactive supplement for blind spots, while the Cross Traffic Alert warns you of approaching vehicles as you’re backing out of a spot. Lane Keeping Aid now gives you a haptic warning in the steering wheel.
Getting down to performance
Based on a couple of hours tackling some very demanding roads, we have no doubt that the new Drive-E four is strong enough for the T6—and to replace the existing turbo six. Volvo cites preliminary 0-60 times of 6.0 seconds for the 240-hp T5 and 5.6 seconds for the 302-hp T6; and these engines should be far more fuel efficient than the outgoing fives and sixes; Volvo estimates a Combined 29 mpg for the lower-output engine, while the top T6 should be well into the 30s on the highway.