Volvo has brought a small sample of its latest technological development to South Africa in the guise of Drive-E D4 and T5 engine variants across the 60 range.  This is part of a new era of development for Volvo, which we’ve detailed fully HERE.

The T5 sees replacement of the Ford-derived 2.0-litre four-cylinder, while the D4 finally bids farewell to the five-cylinder 2.0-litre diesel.  At the recent press launch event in Mpumalanga, we had opportunity to compare the old cars to the updated ones, and the improvements were obvious.

So what are the Drive-E engines like to, errr, drive? In a nutshell, stellar! The old D4 felt sluggish due to turbo lag, with a narrow power band. The new diesel is, by contrast, much more responsive from the get-go, a lot smoother and more refined, and offers power right through the range. The handling showed another surprise, being considerably more agile than before– no doubt thanks to that weight saving over the front axle.

The good news continues with the petrol T5. Let’s face it, the Focus’s direct injected 2.0 EcoBoost mill is hardly a primitive box of bolts and nuts, but the new engine bumps the output  figures to 180 kW and 350 Nm (from 177 kW and 320Nm), and the difference in performance bears out this power upgrade. The new transmission also offered noticeably more enthusiastic acceleration and better mid-range response, while the weight saving again transformed S60’s handling characteristics. As an added bonus, the electrically assisted power steering (also new with the Drive-E engines) doesn’t dull the driving experience as much as might be expected, and its muted feedback rather suits the gentlemanly behaviour of the S60 sedan.

The figures confirm the benefit of the Drive-E engines.  While the D4 gains 10 kW over the outgoing model, its CO2 emission plunges from 152 g/km to 109 g/km, and its official fuel consumption drops from 7.0 l/100 km to a scarcely believable 4.2 l/100 km. The T5 sees a similar improvement, dropping from 189 g/km to 139 g/km, while its fuel thirst is reduced from 9.6 l/100 km to 6.0 l/100 km. These two models sum up the philosophy of the Drive-E development: reduced thirst with cleaner emissions and improved performance.

With a new engine range at their disposal, a modern platform to build from, and a beautiful design style soon to roll out in the new XC90, the future at Volvo has never looked brighter. I can’t help but lament the passing of the sonorous straight-fives and sixes, though such is the price of progress. At least the new engines are measurably better at everything and really nice to use. I’m prepared to live with the loss of some charisma if my wallet can have an easier time at the fuel station…


Written by: Martin Pretorius

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