The famous Volvo tuners at Polestar set up an S60 chassis for Volvo to jam its experimental 450 horsepower triple-charged 2.0 four-cylinder engine in it, and the result is a prototype so fast it should scare Ze Germans. The horsepower war just got downsized.
(Full Disclosure: Volvo flew me to Gothenburg, put me up in a very nice glass tower, gives me food five times a day and I even have spa options. I need that, because it gets dark very early around here.)
Perhaps "start a war" is a convenient way to ignore history. Let's be honest, the war to squeeze as much power and, thereby, as much fun out of a drop of decomposed velociraptors started a few years ago. There have been Skyactivs and EarthDreams from the Japanese and EcoBoosts and EcoTecs from the Americans. These are marketing names designed to to hide the fact that there is a war going on, that people still want more power even if they don't want to admit it. Manufactured consent.
When Volvo and Polestar put 350 horsepower and a few other clever bits into a V60 wagon they were still using old technology. Six cylinders. As if. Then came Mercedes with a powerful 2.0 four-cylinder they've put in everything and trumps the Volvo and, basically, everyone else.
But don't count out the Swedes. This new engine now beats the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG by 90 horses, and probably does it while using as little fuel. How'd they do this? Science. All the science.
The Drive-E High Performance Concept's engine uses two parallel BorgWarner turbochargers spinning at up to 200,000 RPM to generate enough boost, plus an electric supercharger powered by a separate 48V system that spools up to 70,000 RPM.
The fuel pumps work at 50 psi and the octanes get sprayed into those four cylinders by enlarged injectors forcing them with a pressure of 3,625 psi. A few other engine tweaks were also applied to keep the beast from destroying itself, and this is what all that sounds like in a roughly calibrated prototype.
But can such a high-output engine be durable enough for production? Volvo's R&D department certainly thinks so.
It's not lacking any power, that I could tell after the first 30 feet, but the idea of a 450 hp Volvo sedan put a smile on my face even before I pressed the start button.
The test track at Volvo's Demo Center wasn't really designed with hot laps in mind. Customers who decide to pick up their cars from the factory use it most of the time, obeying the 45 mph speed limit while looking out for those loose moose wandering in the area.
We went quite a bit faster than that, pulling those flappy pedals to keep it at boost without mercy. Mostly because Polestar did a very good job at setting up a chassis with stiffer springs and dampers, responsive steering, enough mechanical grip at the front thanks to the wheel and tire package and brakes that allow you to explore what 450 horses can do with an S60.
And that's the thing. They could totally pull this off, and it looks like they're ready for battle. Polestar clearly knows how to play this much power and Volvo is only going to use the Drive-E powerplants from now on, with high-performance models being part of the plan of attack in all markets. Yes, that includes America.
A move like that would boost their image, piss off the Germans and make us pretty much blue ourselves. It's a triple-win.