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Volvo unveils triple-boosted 450-hp 4-cylinder engine

Volvo's High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept engine boasts 450 hp and triple-boost turbo power.



They are keeping a lot the details still under wraps, but Volvo unveiled a triple-boost 2-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine with no less than 450 hp on October 9.

That's a lot of power from a little unit.

The new engine is the next-gen version of Volvo's 320-hp Drive-E Powertrain range that debuted in 2013 -- an engine that solidified the carmaker's commitment to developing powerful and fuel-efficient 4-cylinders for much of its future passenger-car and SUV lines.

The new 450-hp unit has been dubbed the "High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept."

"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 Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Volvo Car Group. "We knew that 320 hp in our petrol configuration was just a starting point."

The 450-hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is based on a set of technologies not usually found in a 4-cylinder engine. The engine uses two parallel turbochargers that are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, is instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers. Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure. With this kind of power density, the triple-boost installation and unique fuel system enable dynamic drivability without any turbo lag, compared to a mono-turbo.

"There are several high-power small-size applications where one large turbo is used to create a high level of power available from other manufacturers, but the driving experience suffers due to slow engine response," said Michael Fleiss, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group. "We felt that, with our heritage of being among the first car companies to embrace and offer a broad range of turbo technology since 1981, we could improve this."

Video: A look at Volvo's 450-hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept development.

The High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept attracted the attention and involvement of Volvo Cars suppliers AVL, Denso, and Volvo Polestar Racing at an early stage, which allowed theories and technologies from racing applications to be infused in the development process.

"This was a very exciting project as we pioneered a combination of technologies in the same application, and the result is a unique engine with high power yet quick response," said Mattias Evensson, Race Engine Director at Volvo Polestar Racing. "Above all, its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the center of gravity -- two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car."

As for fuel economy, that is still to be determined. "The engine delivers 450 horsepower and 500 Newton meters of torque and sounds fantastic," Trevor O'Rourke, Product Communication Manager for Volvo Cars, told Designfax. "As this is a performance concept, and not a production engine, it has not been in any way certified when it comes to emissions or fuel consumption, but it is based on the very efficient Drive-E base engine. We estimate that the fuel consumption and CO2 will be different by just a maximum of 5 percent from the Drive-E T6 petrol engine." Motor Trend quoted the fuel economy on the Drive-E T6 4-cylinder gasoline engine in Volvo's 2015 XC60 SUV to be 22 city and 30 highway mpg on the EPA's fuel economy cycle.

"It may sound odd, but this 450-hp powertrain concept is an important part of the Drive-E development program," said Dr. Mertens. "Downsizing must offer customers attractive and usable power for broad-scale emissions reduction to work. Compact powertrains free up space and weight in the structure of the car, which can be used for electrification and even further emissions reduction. And that is our ultimate ambition."

Source: Volvo Cars

Published October 2014

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