Engine and gearbox
Volvo has ditched a complicated line-up of bespoke engines in favour of a BMW-style modular approach, spinning three and four-cylinder petrols and diesels off the same basic block. The entry-level three-cylinder is a pleasant enough unit, spinning sweetly and relishing hard work. It’s mated to a six-speed manual that’s precise enough, if a little notchy in operation.
All the diesels are essentially the same 2-litre capacity with varying power and torque outputs. They’re reasonably refined, thanks in part to decent sound insulation, and pull strongly in the mid-ranges, making them a strong companion for the eight-speed auto, which shifts up early to make maximum use of the engine’s twist. So effective are these units at low to medium revs that there’s no real point in working them hard, not least because the four-cylinder becomes strained.