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Volvo announces DRIVe eco Automatics

New auto models as frugal as manual versions

Volvo DRIVe auto S60

The Volvo S60 DRIVe will be available with the new automatic gearbox

Volvo has added an automatic gearbox option to the DRIVe eco variants of its S60, V60, V70 and S80 models – without ruining the fuel economy.

Extensive development work means the new six-speed Powershift auto offers the exact same mpg and CO2 emissions as its six-speed manual equivalents.

Volvo DRIVe Automatic: self-shifting efficiency

Volvo’s Powershift automatic gearbox is a twin-clutch system, much like Volkswagen’s DSG.

Such units are already far more efficient than conventional torque converter automatics, but even so this is the first time we’ve seen a carmaker offer an auto option on a range of its greenest products without damaging the economy.

In order to achieve this, Volvo’s engineers have reduced internal friction inside the gearbox, modified the software that controls both the engine and the gearbox, optimised the on-board electrical systems and – most radically – altered the start-stop system so that it actually switches off the engine while the car is still rolling, once speed drops below 3mph.

Volvo DRIVe auto V60

All models will be low emissions, meaning cheap car tax

Sub-120g/km CO2, February 2012 production

This results in a range of four medium to large automatic cars that all emit less than 120g/km CO2 – meaning affordable annual car tax rates – and return over 62mpg.

The Volvo S60 DRIVe Automatic returns a claimed 65.7mpg combined with 114g/km CO2 emissions, while the V60, V70 and S80 DRIVe Automatics all manage 119g/km CO2 with a claimed 62.8mpg combined.

All four vehicles are powered by a 113bhp 1.6-litre turbodiesel that produces a reasonable 199lb ft of torque – enough pulling power to get even a car as big as the Volvo V70 moving.

Prices for the DRIVe Automatics start at £25,230 for the S60, £26,405 for the V60, £27,730 for the V70 and £26,980 for the S80. Production is set to begin mid-February 2012.

T3 turbo petrol below 140g/km CO2

Volvo hasn’t forgotten its petrol engines, however, and has also announced that the 1.6-litre T3 turbo now produces less than 140g/km CO2 when fitted to its S60 and V60 models.

In the S60 it’s now as low as 137g/km – which works out at a claimed 49.0mpg. Both figures are significant improvements over the previous 154g/km and 42.8mpg, especially given the engine continues to produce a lively 148bhp.

This engine will also be available with the Powershift gearbox for the first time come February 2012; however, in this instance the CO2 and fuel economy aren’t at the same level as the six-speed manual at 164g/km and 39.8mpg.

Prices for the Volvo S60 T3 Powershift start at £24,270.

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