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Volvo SA boosts S40, S80 ranges

2008-08-06 08:09
Volvo’s V50 estate now has DCT shift quality in 2.

Volvo’s V50 estate now has DCT shift quality in 2.0D trim.

Lance Branquinho

Volvo has added dual-clutch powershift transmissions to its 2.0D S40 and V50 models and new turbo power to the range topping S80.

Smoother, quicker shifts

As customers demand drivetrains with increased efficiency and performance without sacrificing comfort, Volvo has responded by adding a Getrag sourced six-speed DCT-style gearbox to 2-litre turbodiesel models in their S40 and V50 range.

Driving two wet clutches – very much like VW’s first generation DSG - which engage and disengage either even or uneven gears on the seven ratio gearbox (six forward and reverse), the powershift transmission functions either as an automatic or six-speed sequential. The design principle is one of essentially having two parallel manual gearboxes, with dual shafts –one running inside the other.

The dual-clutch functionality – with one engaging while the other disengages – ensures near seamless drivetrain operation. Volvo claims an efficiency gain of 8% (combined consumption claimed at 6l/100km) without sacrificing performance.

New S80

Beyond the introduction of powershift transmission technology to the S40 and V50 range Volvo has added 3-litre turbocharged power to the S80 range. Based on the 3.2-litre in-line six engine it sees a reduction in bore, trimming capacity down to 3-litres, and is fed by twin-scroll turbocharging which boosts power output to 210kW and 400Nm.

Twin scroll turbocharging denotes an exhaust gas management principle which enables the turbo to be driven via two separate ducts which are fed in turn depending on the piston firing order, ensuring seamless turbine propulsion.

As the exhaust gases are evacuated from the cylinders in accordance with the ignition sequence, i.e. when cylinder 1 is evacuated of exhaust gases it is followed by cylinder 5, then cylinder 3-6-2-4 the twin duct flow spools up the turbo with a practically uninterrupted flow of exhaust gas.

On the road

We drove the S40 with powershift to Hermanus and took a S80 3.0T for the return trip.

On the road powershift is a vast improvement on the geartronic gearbox, with kick down smoother and quicker.

Shifting in sequential mode during spirited driving the experience is buoyed by virtue of knowing the transmission will hold a selected gear when cornering. This ensures predictable, speed ratio related power delivery instead of unhappy mid-corner ‘throttle-kick down’ reactions, which are the bane of traditional automatic transmissions at times.

Although the underpinnings are hardly in the dynamic range of German competitors, the S40 has a ridiculously comfortable interior (it has that Ikea vibe), and if it’s foolproof, front-wheel drive cruiser you want, the highly efficient new powershift turbodiesel model makes a good case for itself.

Comparatively the geartronic equipped S80 3.0T renders a swift cruising experience. The twin scroll turbocharged engine provides a surfeit of toque from 2 000r/min, allowing 18-wheelers to be dispatched with ease when overtaking.

Ride quality is so good as to practically be sleep inducing, yet the trade off is copious amounts of body roll in medium to high-speed corners. If you’re after something quick, distinctive styled, with all-wheel drive security and ridiculously comfortable ride quality, the new 3.0T is easily the best balance of virtues in the current S80 range – just to sure to keep it in a straight line though.

What we would really like to see is all D5 geartronic models replaced with the powershift gearbox across the Volvo range. Allegedly the powershift transmission has a torque threshold of 447Nm, leaving scant reason for such an engineering solution not be on the cards.

Volvo connoisseurs will notice PV444 heritage name spacing on the rear of the latest Volvo models too. The Volvo brand name lettering is now liberally spaced, rendering a remnant of subtle style with detailed understatement – it’s quintessentially Swedish.


S40 2.0D Powershift R 292 500
V50 2.0D Powershift R 297 500
S80 3.0T Geartronic R516 000

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