What is it?
This latest Volvo V60 is the culmination of a six-year journey. Volvo apparently dreamed up the idea of focusing on small four-cylinder engines and hybrids in 2007 while it was still in Ford’s clutches; by the time it was sold in 2009, Volvo had decided that it wanted to be a manufacturer of 2.0-litre (or smaller) motors only. Two years later, it received the funding to make it happen.
The fruits of Volvo's labour, to be launched in the S60, V60 and XC60 first, are strikingly simple. There will now be just two 2.0-litre engines – one petrol, one diesel – sharing a basic architecture and three methods of mounting. All other powerplants (Ford’s remnants, the five-cylinder diesels etc) will be swept away over the next two years, replaced by eight derivatives of the same design. Hybrids will follow.
It’s a logical, if slightly daring strategy. Its simplicity reflects Volvo’s size and its standalone nature, but also its intention to remain a serious volume manufacturer (it expects to build 500,000 units at its Skovde engine plant). That ambitious figure is bolstered by the technical ingenuity on show.
The new D4 diesel engine (the T6 petrol is dealt with elsewhere) ought to start life as a class leader. Homologation is yet to come, but Volvo is counting on a near-to, if not under, 99g/km CO2 emissions figure in the S60. With 178bhp, 295lb ft of torque and 0-62mph in 7.4sec. On paper, thosea re BMW 320d ED-beating figures.
Those numbers have been achieved conventionally, through the likes of weight reduction, improved turbocharging and an Eco coast mode, and with evolutionary new tech, including the adoption of i-Art, a 2500 bar common-rail injection system that incorporates pressure sensors in every injector to permit an even finer tuning of combustion timing.
We drove the new engine aboard the V60, hooked up to an all-new, Aisin-supplied eight-speed gearbox which replaces the old six-speed Powershift transmission. The automatic and estate weight pushes the CO2 up around 10g/km, but Volvo still reckons the D4 will deliver 67.2mpg combined economy.