While many of us grouse about the inevitable decline of big-displacement motors with lots of pistons, it's also hard to see the present as anything but an amazing time for engine technology. And with their new High Performance Drive-E Powertrain concept, Volvo has something truly incredible up their sleeves.
Today the Swedish comeback kid released details on a brand-new engine they're developing, one that will crank a stunning 450 horsepower out of just a 2.0-liter four-cylinder.
How the hell will they do that, you ask? Turbos. Lots of turbos. Well, three turbos, which I think is a lot.
The Drive-E Powertrain uses two parallel turbochargers which are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. That electric turbo's compressed air is not fed to the cylinders, but rather used to spool up the other two parallel turbochargers. Volvo says this "triple boost" means lots of power with no lag.
And if they can pull off the estimated 450 horsepower, that gives this engine an output of 225 horsepower per liter. Very impressive.
"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. 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, that we could improve this," says Michael Fleiss, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.
They say that partners DVL, Denso and their motorsports arm Polestar got involved in the project at an early stage, so the engine was designed theories and technologies derived from racing.
There's no word yet on which car might use this engine, though Automobile speculates it could be a high-performance halo car like the anticipated S90 sedan.
Between this concept and the 400 horsepower, supercharged and turbocharged hybrid motor in the 2015 XC90, it's clear Volvo is trying some really interesting things with their engines. We have some good things to look forward to.