2015 Volvo V60 T5 Drive-E Premier Plus first drive review: The Volvo vagn, er, wagon is back

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus

The 2015 Volvo V60 brings to mind a time, even six or seven years ago, one quarter of all new Volvos sold in the U.S. were station wagons. That wasn’t good enough for Volvo because Volvo wagons had earlier made up half of Volvo sales in the States.

So the Swedish carmaker wrapped the V70 up and threw away the wagon’s place in the Volvo’s model lineup. Americans, the rationale went, love the sport-utility, the rationale went, so we’ll give them what they want. Hence the XC60 and XC70 as substitutes for the V70, which continued in Europe, where they wagons are appreciated. The XC60 and XC70 were, nevertheless, station wagons on tippy toes, and almost as boxy as Volvos have been going back to circa 1970.

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus interior

Our first-drive 2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus was equipped with sport seats. (click to enlarge)

The Volvo V60 made its first North American appearance at the 2013 New York International Auto Show last year to rave reviews—including ours—but had really been around in Europe since 2010 where, if you read the furrin automotive press, was a winner there as well.

We’ll cut to the chase. The Volvo V60 is a Volvo S60 sedan with a high deckled and a trunk with windows. Instead of the tall squared-off classic wagon roofline, the roof of the V60 tapers towards the rear where there’s a dramatic treatment of the hatch, rear bumper and taillights. Everything head of the A-pillar is the same as the S60.

The V60, then, is part of Volvo’s scalable architecture and is part of what Volvo calls the “60 cluster,” which includes the Volvo S60 sedan, the Volvo XC60 crossover, and the Volvo V60. All will be available with one of three engines, either Volvo’s new Drive-E four, the 250-horse 2.5-liter turbocharged and direct injection five cylinder Volvo fans have known for years, or turbo 3.0-liter inline six making 325 horses.

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus back seat

The 2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus back seat has a fold-down armrest with a fold-out cupholder. (click to enlarge)

The new Drive-E four-cylinder engine is quite uncommon if not genuinely unique, with supercharging and turbocharging. The concept behind the concept combines the ready torque of a mechanical supercharger at low rpm with the boost that turbocharging adds once the engine gets into higher revs. As a result, the two-liter Drive-E engine makes only ten horsepower less than the old 2.5-liter turbo five.

Those old five- and six-cylinder engines were miracles in packaging, Volvo having been justifiably proud of not only fitting the long in-line engines crosswise under the hood, but also accommodating the transmission and all-wheel drive. On the other hand, the double-boosted Drive-E four is significantly lighter, weighing in 100 lbs less than the venerable five and six.

The four, thanks to space restraints of he current 60 cluster, will be available only with front-wheel drive. In the U.S., the five and six will exclusively come with all-wheel drive. Because of capacity constraints—how many Drive-E engines they can make—the Drive-E models will be sold in warmer climes while all-wheel drive models will be sold in the snowbelt.

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus cargo area

The 2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus cargo ares is typically sized for a sport wagon. (click to enlarge)

Just to make sure everything is confusing, the Drive-E engine equipped will be known as the 2015 V60 T5 Drive-E FWD. The five-cylinder model will carry a 2015 V60 T5 AWD moniker. And the six will be called the 2015 V60 T6 AWD R-Design. Why both the four and the five-cylinder engines will have the same T5 designation is arcanery that doubtless arose under the influence of the Northern Lights.

Our much-anticipated first drive in the Volvo V60 was with the Drive-E engine and our initial impressions come down to quiet and smooth on the highway, but under acceleration, the four lacks the smoothness of the five- or six-cylinder engines. Volvo claims a 0-60 mph time of 6.1 seconds, and although in our first drive we didn’t have many opportunities to experience that, we won’t argue either.

2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus storage bin

The cargo load floor of the 2015 Volvo T5 V60 Drive-E Premium Plus lifts for a hidden storage bin. (click to enlarge)

Still, one of the primary reasons for having a wagon is to haul stuff, and just how well does the Volvo V60 do that? The total cargo capacity—with the rear seat folded—of the V60 is 43.8 cubic feet, but only 15.2 cubic feet with all seats in place. That compares with the defunct Dodge Magnum, with a similar sport wagon configuration but larger overall, minimum/maximum measure of 27.2 and 71.6 cu. ft.

More contemporary comparisons, however, would include Volvo’s rivals from Germany, while the BMW 328i Sports Wagon measures 17.5 cu ft with the seats up and 53.0 with the seats folded. The Audi Allroad crossover wagon, which can hold 27.6 and 50.5 cu. ft. min and max, Of course, Volvo has a member of its 60 cluster that has a more roomy cargo area. The Volvo XC60 measures 30.8 cu. ft. seats up, and 67.4 cu ft seats down.