A high-performance, 2-liter, triple-turbocharged 4-cylinder engine with no less than 450 hp was unleashed upon the motoring world this week and believe it or not — it’s a VOLVO!
The engine, known as the High Performance Drive E Powertrain Concept, features not one, not two, but three turbos to provide fuel-efficient horsepower. The company’s newfound devotion to the four cylinder engine is set to permeate its complete lineup of cars. In fact, starting with this current generation of vehicles, all of the company’s venerable 5-, 6-, and 8- cylinder engines will be phased out and replaced with various iterations of the Drive E powerplant.
This latest development comes on the back of existing — and kind of bonkers — Drive E engines setups like the supercharged and turbocharged version already in production.
The triple-turbo system’s goal is to provide V6 or V8 power and performance with a lightweight and more fuel-efficient powerplant. To get the responsiveness and torque-y characteristics of a big motor, Volvo is employing exhaust-powered turbochargers to force-feed additional oxygen into the engine. However, the Achilles of any high-pressure turbo is the lag time between when you step on the gas and when turbos spool up to provide power.
To combat this problem in the triple-turbo engine, Volvo’s engineers have installed a third, electrically powered turbocharger whose job is to maintain a constant stream pressurised air to the two other turbos. With two turbos constantly at what’s referred to as “boost,” the Drive E engine can provide gobs of horsepower at a moment’s notice.
The dreaded “turbo lag” isn’t an issue.
“When we launched the Drive-E powertrain family, our aim was to deliver the most advanced 4-cylinder engines in the industry based on emissions and fuel consumption relative to performance and drivability,” said Volvo’s head of research and development Dr. Peter Mertens in a statement.
“We knew that 320 hp in our petrol configuration was just a starting point. The 450 hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept demonstrates this ambition and the versatility of the Drive-E Powertrains.”
Business Insider had the opportunity to drive an S60 T6 with the 306 horsepower supercharged and turbocharged version of the Drive E engine and it was amazing. The engine provides a broad and easily accessible torque band with no hint whatsoever of turbo lag.
In fact, had I not known the specification of the car, I would have guessed it was a 6 or even a small 8-cylinder unit.
Volvo is determined to move past its pleasantly understated yet unfortunately underpowered past. The triple-turbo is a clear step in that direction.
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