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SWEET SWEDE: For 2015, Volvo debuts powerful, thrifty new engine line in XC60 SUV

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Good old conservative Volvo. Who’d have thought?

In an effort to trim the number of engines offered in its lineup, as well as improve fuel economy and performance, Volvo has designed a new line of 2.0-liter twin-cam four-cylinders that eventually will appear across the board in various models.

What Volvo’s engineers have come up with is a technical tour de force.

This week’s tester, a 2015-model XC60 sport-utility wagon, came equipped with the more potent version of the new engine. In this guise, power output is a eye-popping 302 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. From a 2.0-liter four!

Volvo accomplishes this feat in part through an innovative application of both super- and turbocharging. Why both?

Because a turbocharger requires the flow of exhaust gas to spin its impeller, meaning it requires increasing engine revs to deliver its maximum pressure. That often creates some lag at initial throttle application. A belt-driven supercharger, meanwhile, delivers its full output at any speed.

So Volvo has a small supercharger deliver pressure until the turbo spools up, which results in a seamless flow of potent thrust at all RPMs. This is especially noticeable in low-speed situations such as pulling away from a stop light. This wagon scoots!

And yet, our front-drive T6 model is rated at 22 mpg in town and a excellent 30 on the highway. Better still, that’s on regular-grade unleaded.

xc60interiorAn additional advantage to a four-cylinder over a six is reduced weight over the front wheels. As a result, with some suspension rejiggering, the 2015 XC60 exhibits newfound handling prowess and a welcome sense of agility. While not exactly sports-car-sporty, it’s definitely enjoyable fun to drive, even on curvy back roads. The XC60 rides firmly but comfortably, in the Euro style.

Inside and out, the XC60 received a number of styling and interior upgrades for 2014, and those remain for 2015. A somewhat stark, Nordic mood permeates the handsome, comfortable cabin.

Notable is the switchable gauge display with Elegance, Eco and Sport modes.

Like all Volvos, the XC60 has the constitution of an army tank, solid and secure. Only now, in addition to its safety attributes, this one delivers some serious performance paired with fuel economy.

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