Volvo introduces a new powerful and efficient family of Drive-E compact four-cylinder engines

Volvo's Drive-E performance engine incorporates a supercharger along with a turbocharger developing 302 horsepower

Volvo’s Drive-E performance engine incorporates a supercharger along with a turbocharger developing 302 horsepower

Beyond the new look and feel to Volvo V group of vehicles comes the introduction of a whole family of all new engines that are entirely Volvo from research, development and manufacturing. Not only do these engines represent lighter weight, better fuel economy and more power in a smaller package they incorporate a number of new technologies that are curiously provocative.

In the past Volvo has relied on a variation of four, five, six and even eight cylinder engines to power their wide range of sedans, coupes and wagons. With the introduction of the all new Drive-E engines Volvo is committing to exclusively using four cylinder engine configurations. Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) rises out of the philosophy that light weight, powerful engines that are also fuel efficient will guide Volvo into the next generation of fine automobiles.

Base four-cylinder engine architecture is at the heart of this philosophy with one fundamental displacement for all gasoline and diesel engines. The USA will not see the diesel engine offering at this time, but you diesel fans can hold out hope with the Drive-E development. The commitment to one common engine family also allows engineers and designs better flexibility with developing new vehicle platforms because they have a solid handle on the drivetrain configurations they will work with for all vehicles. Engine compartments and vehicle body platforms are consistent, making it easier to design future vehicles. These two engines will eventually replace eight engine configurations now offered.

Light weight, efficiency and performance are all priorities with these engines and each carry common elements. All Drive-E

Compact and powerful Drive-E engines open new possibilities for Volvo.

Compact and powerful Drive-E engines open new possibilities for Volvo.

engines are anchored by high-pressure die cast aluminum crankcases with bedplates for strength. Cast-in iron cylinder liners and nodular bearing reinforcements add strength as well increase efficiency. The T5 and T6 share cylinder heads with minor changes for the differences found on their turbocharged (T5) and the combined supercharger turbocharger (T) induction systems.

The initial lineup available in the United States will consist of T5 and T6 performance engines which will be fitted to front-wheel drive only vehicles. This restriction is solely the result of constrained production capabilities at Volvo facilities. The T5 while designated the more economical of the two engines is not without attention grabbing performance. This engine package receives a single turbocharger while the T6 package is equipped with a most unusual supercharger coupled with a turbocharger combination.

The T5 and T6 incorporate a direct injection fuel system that was developed to maximize air-fuel mixture to achieve the best fuel economy while providing performance and enabling the engine to achieve clean air PZEV emission compliance. The turbocharged T5 engine is quite capable in its own right producing a very respectable 240 horsepower rating along with 258 lb ft. of torque.

Where the T6 differs is in its dual pressure induction system that increases performance with its 302 horsepower and an impressive 295 lb ft. of torque. We cannot remember when a supercharger-turbocharger combination system has ever been utilized on a production automobile. According to Volvo this is the first, and they have taken their task quite serious. The whole reason for this combination is to get the most low-end response provided by a belt driven supercharger and combining it with the higher rpm power from the turbocharger. This combination assures a linear performance band across the entire power band. The supercharger produces power immediately as the turbocharger spools up for performance at higher speeds. In road going terms this means that this little 2.0-liter four cylinder engine can put the power to the road for sporty driving while providing the fuel efficiency demanded by today’s car buyer.

The research and development of these compact engines did not leave out future power sources. While designing these compact engines electrification was always near the top of the list of energy sources. The compactness of the drivetrain package which includes the equally compact 8-speed automatic transmission will allow for a very easy integration of an electric motor/generator into the vehicle.

The compactness of the Drive-E engine makes it perfect candidate for electrification.

The compactness of the Drive-E engine makes it perfect candidate for electrification.

According to Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group, “A four-cylinder, transversely mounted engine is a way of building up for an electrified future. Hybrids are definitely going to be a dominant part of the top end of our range.”

It is quite evident that Volvo is just scratching the surface of their potential development of their Drive-E engines. With diesel power and electrification sitting in the wings, what could be next? We are sure that following our experience with the Drive-E V60 and S60 that whichever direction Volvo chooses for North American vehicles they will be all Volvo and embody all the performance and efficiency we have come to expect from this innovative Swedish automotive company.