Volvo’s D4 has eco all figured out

Latest Volvo S80 looks much more modern and classy and makes a frugal and comfortable cruiser with t

Latest Volvo S80 looks much more modern and classy and makes a frugal and comfortable cruiser with the new 2.0-litre D4 Drive-E turbo diesel - Credit: Volvo

Volvo's new Drive-E engines combine power and performance with low emissions and fuel consumption, says motoring editor Andy Russell.

There was a time when BHP and MPH were the key figures of a good car in many drivers' mind but then G/KM of CO2 and MPG became a priority. Now with the modern-generation diesel and petrol engines they can have the best of all worlds.

Take Volvo's new Drive-E range of powertrains – the driving force for the future of the Swedish marque, one that was not seen as particularly mean or green in the past. But Volvo's latest powertrains are up with the very best.

Volvo has made five-cylinder engines, both petrol and diesel, a speciality over the years but that will change with its new generation of high-output, eco-driven units for the new petrol and diesel motors will, with turbocharging and hybrid technology, give the economy – 10 to 30% better – and lower emissions of smaller, lighter four-cylinder engines combined with power levels expected of five, six and eight-pot units. Petrol engines will range from 140 to 306hp and diesels 120 to 230hp with the new powertrains offered in all Volvos, except the current XC90, by May.

The 181hp 2.0-litre D4 turbo diesel launch engine hits the spot with CO2 emissions dipping below the magic 100g/km in certain models.

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I tried it in the S80 and it doesn't disappoint. This is a big executive saloon yet, even with the new eight-speed automatic, it has official combined fuel economy of 65.7mpg and 117g/km of CO2 so that's free road tax in the first year and £30 after that – considerably better than the existing Euro V engines.

The figures appeal to the head, the performance and refinement to the heart. With strong low-down flexibility, 400 Newton metres of torque giving it plenty of of shove in the mid range and a willingness to rev even the S80 D4 is suitably brisk. And everyone who travelled in it picked up on how smooth and quiet this diesel engine is.

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The icing on the cake is a real-world 50mpg overall in mixed motoring while a fast 250-mile returned 58mpg without setting out to be economy-minded.

The new eight-speed automatic gearbox helps economy and this seamless-shifter takes the strain out of motorway mile-munching and the cut and thrust of the urban rush-hour.

The S80 has been something of an ugly duckling in the Volvo range but, while it still hasn't evolved into a beautiful swan compared to some very classy rivals, it looks much more dynamic rather than dumpy.

It's not going to set pulses racing when it comes to entertainment value but it impresses with its ride comfort and relaxing nature. The superby supportive front seats are so good that I'd swap my favourite armchair in the living room for one! Add to that loads of legroom and a huge boot with good access and powered by that D4 engine you see the S80 in a new light.

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