Where Volvo is concerned, the number of cylinders will no longer be important to describe power and driveability. Smaller engines will be able to match powerplants with more cylinders and displacement, saving fuel in the process.
This is the promise of the company’s new Drive-E range of powertrains that will soon appear in the new S60, V60 and XC60.
“We have created smaller, more intelligent engines with power curves that give exciting driveability compared with engines with more cylinders yet deliver the fuel economy of only 4 cylinders. In addition, by adding electrification such as plug-in hybrid technology, we will reach power figures in the V8 territory,” said Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.
“If you take a 4-cylinder Drive-E engine versus any 6-cylinder engine, there’s a massive weight and size reduction for the same power. Fuel economy savings are anything from 10 to 30 percent, depending on which engine you’re comparing it to,” he explained.
Initially, the new models will be available with three engines from the new engine family: the 306 bhp petrol turbo T6, the 245 bhp T5 and the turbodiesel D4 with 181 bhp. A new 8-speed automatic gearbox will contribute to a refined drive and excellent fuel economy. The T5 and the D4 will also available in the new Volvo V70, XC70 and S80.
Drive-E diesels will range from 120 to 230 bhp while petrol versions will start at 140 hp and go all the way up to 300+ bhp.
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Several levels of turbocharging open up the flexibility to cover the whole range, from fuel-efficient derivatives through to high power and torque variants. In order to cover all customer requirements, some engines will also gain added performance via electrification or other spearhead technology.
Using the supercharger to fill in the bottom end torque gives the petrol engine a big, naturally-aspirated feel. The mechanically-linked compressor starts to function immediately at low revs, while the turbocharger kicks in when the airflow builds up.
Other improvements to the Drive-E petrol engines include friction-reduction measures such as ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump.
The Drive-E engines are prepared for future electrification from the start. Key components, such as the Integrated Starter Generator, can be connected easily – and the compact size of the 4-cylinder engines means that the electric motor can be fitted in the front or rear of the vehicle. The battery pack will be located in the centre of the car.