Today's economy and environmental concerns has seen the need for automotive manufacturers to look for new ways of creating powerful engines whilst still keeping emissions down. Due to these new environmental concerns, even high displacement hypercars are looking for new ways to create incredible performance with turbo's and hybrid systems; this has even led to 'the death of the V12'.
The latest development in the era of powerful low emission engines is the age of the high-performance four cylinder and, leading the way in the field, is Volvo; their latest four cylinder engine creating an incredible 450bhp.
Volvo started their Drive-E powertrain family in 2013 with the aim to create engines that combine power, efficiency and performance; the subsequent four-cylinder engines benefitted from the handling and performance of bigger engines whilst maintaining the low-fuel consumption characteristics of a typical four-cylinder. Speaking about the Drive-E family, Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Volvo said:
“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 driveability. We knew that 320hp in our petrol configuration was just a starting point…"
The new High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is a triple boost 2-litre engine that works to create 450bhp – more than any other competitor four-cylinder to date. Producing this incredible performance is a host of technologies that you wouldn't usually find in a four-cylinder powertrain; for example - Two parallel turbochargers being fed by an electronically powered turbo-compressor. This compressor technology is combined with a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure; the combination of the two systems allows the turbochargers to create their power whilst not creating zero turbo lag.
“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 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" – Michael Fleiss, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Volvo.
Volvo's latest concept engine marks an important step in their Drive-E program, demonstrating that they are still at the forefront of small engine development. A new, production version, of this 450bhp Drive-E engine would “offer customers attractive and usable power for broad scale emission reductions in a powertrain that can easily be electrified to further reduce emissions."