Along with several siblings, and following the arrival of new styling boss Thomas Ingenlath at Volvo in 2012, the S60 got a big mid-life facelift.

The styling changes, clearly intended to give the car a bit more visual muscle next to fresher German opposition, consisted mainly of stronger horizontal body creases and larger features.

Matt Saunders Autocar

Matt Saunders

Road test editor
The S60 is a saloon but it's designed to look more like a coupé

SE-spec cars, as pictured, aren't as bold as the R-Design models, which get an even more widely altered look. It struck most testers as neat and pleasant enough, but not quite as appealing – and certainly not as distinctive – as the outgoing S60.

The 2014-model-year facelift also brought some key interior revisions, including a new multimedia system, new seats and new instruments – all of which we’ll come to. Among the new safety highlights added to the options list, and fitted to our test car, are the ‘permanent high-beam’ camera-based active headlights.

That lot would all be window dressing without the headline addition: Volvo’s Drive-E 1969cc all-aluminium twin-turbocharged common-rail diesel engine. It’s no exaggeration to say that this engine has been the saviour of Volvo’s European fortunes, so much so they have created a range of different output versions.

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volvo range

Driven this week

Along with its petrol counterpart, it has been in development since 2008. It will feature throughout the firm’s model ranges and eventually replace every other oil-burner. It has been designed with hybrid applications in mind but in the S60 the T4 produces 188bhp.

In this sub-£22k S60, it emits 99g/km of CO2 and allows for sub-11.5sec 0-60mph and 74mpg-plus claims.

Almost all of which statistics are not just mighty impressive for a four-cylinder diesel compact executive saloon – they’re unequalled.

From its numerous water pumps to its parallel twin turbochargers, there’s plenty of interesting innovation behind the class-leading statistics that Volvo’s Drive-E diesel produces. But the engine’s single most interesting feature is its high-pressure common-rail i-ART injection system, supplied and developed in collaboration with Denso.

The ‘i-ART’ stands for intelligent accuracy refinement technology. Most similar injection systems are moderated, via the ECU, using pressure sensors located in the injection rails, but i-ART has individual pressure sensors for each cylinder.

It’s therefore capable of much wider and more subtle combustion control than rival systems, injecting fuel at up to 2500bar and through up to nine individual injections per cycle, when necessary – but normally operating with just three or four.

The upshot is that the ECU can keep much more precise and discrete control of every individual injection phase, and every induction and subsequent combustion stroke, that the engine makes. In turn this creates more power, as well as a two per cent improvement in fuel economy all on its own.

Save money on your car insurance

Compare quotesCompare insurance quotes

Find an Autocar car review

Explore the Volvo range

Driven this week