More power and better fuel economy – it’s the holy grail for new cars and the Volvo S60 T6 does it better than most.
The all-new four-cylinder, supercharged and turbocharged petrol engine puts out 302bhp, yet official fuel consumption is a fairly remarkable 44.1mpg, despite an eight-speed automatic gearbox being fitted as standard.
To put this in context, the BMW 335i auto achieves similar levels of performance, but manages only 39.2mpg.
What might come as a surprise is that the S60 T6 is front-wheel drive, which is risky given that most cars with this much performance have rear- or four-wheel drive to enable them to transfer their power to the road effectively.
What’s the 2013 Volvo S60 T6 like to drive?
Performance is as banzai as you might expect, but what's surprising is how well the S60 copes with all that power and torque directed to its front wheels. This is due to a clever electronic system that reduces torque as soon as sensors at the wheels detect any loss of traction. You don’t feel any of this happening in practice; you just find that the S60 transfers its power with little of the unwieldy tyre-scrabbling that you might expect.
The engine’s smooth power delivery is also partly to thank for this. With a supercharger helping out at lower revs, there’s less of a surge in acceleration when the turbocharger kicks in, so the power arrives in a fairly linear fashion.
This all makes for very accessible performance and the eight-speed automatic gearbox only serves to make progress easier and more relaxed. The shifts are barely noticeable in unhurried driving, and are satisfying rapid when you want to make full use of the T6’s impressive pace.
What is less than ideal is the ride quality which, on the standard sport chassis setup, is very jarring over any significant creases in the road; it falls a long way short of the supple ride you get in some of the S60's rivals. Body control isn't great, either.
Between this and the heavy, imprecise steering, the S60 isn't the responsive, involving driver’s car that you might hope for. The powertrain is great, but the rest of the package is a way off being class-leading.
What’s the 2013 Volvo S60 T6 like inside?
Little has changed in the cabin. There's enhanced internet connectivity for the nav and entertainment functions, and the digital driver’s display (first seen on the V40), is now available as an option. There are also improved sports seats that are seriously comfortable and supportive.
However, the dashboard layout and controls for the main functions are still a bit fiddly and take a long time to get used to.
The S60 has plenty of space for four adults, with lots of head- and legroom. Access to the rear seats is good, but the sculpted rear bench makes life rather uncomfortable for a central rear passenger. The boot is a useful size, but it’s significantly smaller than its key rivals’.
The T6 is only available in top-spec R-Design Lux trim, so you get lots of kit including automatic lights and wipers, a USB socket, a DAB radio, bluetooth and rear parking sensors. Safety standards are also good, with six airbags and an automatic low-speed collision avoidance system fitted as standard.
Should I buy one?
Volvo's new T6 engine is remarkably efficient given how powerful it is, but it’s still not exactly cheap to run. Given that the S60 isn't blessed with great dynamic abilities, we reckon you'd be much better with a BMW 335i.
If you're set on the S60, the cheaper diesel versions (particularly the 99g/km D4), make far more sense.
What Car? says...
Engine size Supercharged 2.0-litre turbo petrol
Price from £38,200 (est.)
Torque 295lb ft
0-62mph 5.9 seconds
Top speed 143mph
Fuel economy 44.1mpg
CO2 emissions 149g/km