Own Correspondent
4 minute read
19 Mar 2014
4:00 pm

New Volvo engine philosophy is here

Own Correspondent

Drive-E is Volvo's all-encompassing approach to sustainable driving.

It’s the thinking behind a whole range of technologies that they believe will bring Volvo drivers more power, more efficiency and greater driving enjoyment, while also respecting the environment. This thinking has led them to develop new, efficient and powerful engines, plug-in hybrids, high-output batteries, Start/Stop technology, energy recovery systems and even sustainable manufacturing.

Volvo Cars’ new Drive-E range of powertrains takes efficient driving pleasure to a new dimension in which output and efficiency – rather than the number of cylinders – determine the quality of performance. The new two-litre, four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains, a four-cylinder Drive-E petrol engine and a four-cylinder Drive-E diesel, will gradually replace the eight engine architectures that currently power the Volvo line-up. These two engines can be configured to meet the power / output needs of the entire Volvo range from the Volvo V40 hatchback to the future Volvo XC90 SUV.

The first of these new Drive-E engines are now available in SA. The new Drive-E T5 petrol engine and the new Drive-E D4 diesel are now available across the Volvo 60s range – the Volvo S60 sedan, Volvo V60 sportswagon and the Volvo XC60 SUV. Volvo’s top-of-the-range T6 Drive-E petrol engine will follow at a later stage.

“The sophisticated Drive-E technologies give the customer high performance, improved fuel economy, considerably lower emissions and a powerful sound character. Our four-cylinder engines will offer higher performance than today’s six-cylinder units and lower fuel consumption than the current four-cylinder generation,” says Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group. “If you take a four-cylinder DRIVE-E engine versus any six-cylinder engine, there’s a massive weight and size reduction for the same power. Fuel economy savings are anything from 10 to 30%, depending on which engine you’re comparing it to.”

“During the development phase of our Drive-E powertrains, we promised to bring efficient driving pleasure into a new dimension. The official European NEDC certification now confirms that we outperform competitors when it comes to power versus CO2 emissions.”

With 225 kW and CO2 emissions at 149 g/km (6.4 l/100 km) the Volvo S60 T6 becomes the first car in the segment that offers the driver over two horsepower per gram CO2. The car accelerates from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds.

Volvo Cars’ powertrain experts have developed the engines in-house. They are being built at Volvo Car Group’s high-tech engine plant in Skövde, Sweden.

To deliver the desired responsive, smooth and fuel-efficient drivability, the engines are teamed either with a new eight-speed automatic gearbox or an enhanced six-speed manual, tuned for improved fuel economy.

The diesels feature world-first i-Art technology. By featuring pressure feedback from each fuel injector instead of using a traditional single pressure sensor in the common rail, i-Art makes it possible to continuously monitor and adapt fuel injection per combustion in each of the four cylinders.

Each injector has a small computer on top of it that monitors injection pressure. Using this information, the self-adapting i-Art system makes sure that the ideal amount of fuel is injected during each combustion cycle.

The combination of higher injection pressure and i-Art technology gives the customer an engine with improved fuel economy, considerably lower emissions and high performance output as well as a powerful sound character.

The diesels also feature refinements such as state-of-the-art twin-turbo, reduced friction and a smart valve solution on the cooling system for a more rapid heat-up phase after a cold start.

The new two-litre, four-cylinder T6 engine features both a supercharger and a turbo charger. 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 Volvo S60 T5 with 180 kW and the new 8-speed automatic is also exceptionally competitive. CO2 emissions are down at 137 g/km, which translates into fuel consumption of 5.9 l/100 km.

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 four-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.

Volvo Car Group is highly confident that the focus on four-cylinder Drive-E powertrains is the right way to create the desirable blend of power, drivability and fuel efficiency.

“The power you get from an engine has nothing to do with its size; 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,” says Crabb.

“When I was involved in Formula One engines, they were producing 1.5-litre turbo charged engines capable of over 662kW.

“And these new Volvo Drive-E engines have in fact been tested on the racetrack already. The engine we used in Volvo’s WTCC car in 2011 was a Drive-E prototype and by the last race we set a new track record.”