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Volvo to launch new F1-inspired engine range

Thu, 29 Aug 2013 00:00:00 -0700

Volvo has revealed an all-new super-efficient range of engines called DRIVE-E. When launched later this year, the new motors will become some of the most high-tech engines on sale.

Uniquely, the new engine range is based around just two basic four-cylinder designs – one direct-injection petrol engine and one common rail turbodiesel. Volvo plans to vary power output using technology such as different types of turbocharger.

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The two new engines will replace eight older engines in Volvo’s portfolio, including its established five-cylinder and six-cylinder motors plus the thirsty V8 in the XC90. However, Volvo says there’ll be no shortage of power despite the downsized design of the new engines – the petrol version is able to produce more than 300hp. Even the basic version produces 140hp.

Meanwhile, the diesels start at 120hp and will go right up to 230hp.

Volvo says this is possible thanks to a suite of new technology. The biggest breakthrough comes with the new twin-turbo diesel engine, which has world-first i-Art technology. Volvo can now measure fuel pressure at each of the four cylinders, instead of taking an average reading from one source.

Because it’s much more accurate, fuel pressure can be increased, and each single injection of fuel works more effectively. Fuel economy is better, emissions are reduced and, crucially, Volvo also says the engine sounds better because of it.

Petrol engines are to get a turbocharger AND a supercharger, like some ‘twincharger’ Volkswagen Group cars such as the 1.4-litre motor in the Polo GTI. Because the supercharger ‘fills’ bottom end torque, the engine has the feel of a larger one throughout the rev range.

Both new engines can be adapted to electric hybrid drive, allowing the easy inclusion of an electric motor. The firm notably reveals batteries for these electric-drive models will be located in the centre of the car, suggesting they won’t arrive until Volvo launches its new SPA vehicle architecture.

In the UK, the first engines to get the new DRIVE-E motors will be the S60 and V60; they’ll get a 181hp D4 diesel and a 306hp T6 petrol. Volvo is promising fuel economy savings of up to 30 per cent with the launch of the new engines.

The firm proudly says the engines and associated technologies have all been designed in house, in a project led by vice president of powertrain engineering Derek Crabb. “The power you get from an engine has nothing to do with its size,” he explained; “it is about the amount of air that you can get to flow through it.

“You can also make an engine more efficient if you make it smaller. So, if you can get more air through a smaller engine, you can still get the same power but at better efficiency.”

The perfect example of this is turbocharged F1 engines from the 1980s, he adds: “When I was involved in Formula One engines, they were producing 1.5-litre turbocharged engines capable of over 900hp…”

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