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Volvo trials 336kW 2.0-litre engine

Under pressure: Two large turbos fitted to a 2.0-litre engine would normally result in unacceptable turbo lag, but Volvo's solution is to spin-up the turbos with a third compressor powered by electricity – not exhaust gasses.

'Triple-boost' Volvo Drive-E engine could take production power record from Benz

8 Oct 2014

VOLVO has created a prototype version of its four-cylinder Drive-E engine that uses two turbos to wring a whopping 336kW from just 2.0-litres of displacement.

The impressive output is generated in part by a brace of parallel turbochargers, but lag from the relatively large units is mitigated with the use of a third electrically operated air-pump, which spools the turbos up to speed.

Volvo says by using two turbos and a third electric pump, its triple-boost Drive-E eliminates lag and provides a better driving experience than the single-turbo applications manufactured by its competitors.

If a version of the high-output engine were to make it to production it would easily take the record as the world's most powerful four-cylinder engine, which Mercedes-Benz says it currently holds.

The German car-maker produces a 2.0-litre four-cylinder single-turbo engine for its A45, CLA45 and GLA45 AMG models, all of which share the impressive 265kW output, but the Volvo unit smashes that figure by 71kW.

A dual fuel pump operating at pressures of up to 250 bar (3627 psi) delivers fuel to the highly charged cylinders via direct injection to produce the high output, but without the emissions of larger engines of similar power.

Volvo has already announced a 239kW variant of the Drive-E powertrain and a hybrid version that pumps out 299kW for its all-new XC90 SUV range, so the recent announcement of an even more powerful engine suggests the car-maker is closer to its plan of a four-cylinder only powered range.

If it goes into production the triple-boost engine would likely arrive ahead of Volvo's all-new series of platforms, the earliest of which isn't due until 2018, and with its hearty output could potentially slot under the bonnet of any model.

The car-maker is expected to progressively scrap larger high-emissions engines from its line-up, a process that started with its Yamaha-developed V8, which was cut from the XC90 range and will be followed by its V6.

Following that, the in-line five- and six-cylinder units will be the next to go, leaving an exclusively four-cylinder Volvo range.

Versions of the twin-turbo 2.0-litre destined for larger models such as the XC90 large SUV would likely have their power output wound back in favour of a boosted and more user-friendly torque figure.

Expertise from Volvo partners Denso, AVL and Polestar Racing were all channeled in the development of the four-cylinder grenade, with track-honed and race-proven technology necessary to produce the 336kW of power.

Volvo Polestar Racing race engine director Mattias Evensson said that technology bred for the track eventually produces better road cars.

“This was a very exciting project as we pioneered a combination of technologies in the same application, and the result is a quite unique engine with its high power yet quick response,” he said.

“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.

“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.”

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