Gambling on the Superturbo Engines
Since taking control of the Swedish brand several years ago, Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Geely has been hard at work reinventing Volvo as an automobile for the 21st century. The product of several years’ and billions of dollars’ worth of research and development, Volvo’s new line of Drive-E powertrains is the first step toward that goal, utilizing forward-thinking technology to provide improved performance and fuel economy. The Chinese-controlled but independent and re-energized Swedish company is gambling on this unitary engine philosophy for all platforms, from a small sedan to an SUV to the recently unveiled Volvo XC Coupe concept sports car. Volvo executives announced all this to the media — where else but in Las Vegas. The smaller, lighter Drive-E engines efficiently produce the type of power normally seen in six- or eight-cylinder engines with just four cylinders. In an effort to simplify and streamline production, just two engines will be available: a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that generates 240 horsepower (T5), and a unique, 302-horsepower, 2.0-liter 4-cylinder that incorporates both a turbocharger and supercharger (T6).
More than just a new powertrain, Volvo views Drive-E as an entire philosophy dedicated to efficient, eco-friendly performance. The new engines will be implemented in conjunction with an eight-speed automatic gearbox for optimum response and drivability, start-stop technology and brake regeneration. The engines have also been designed to be compatible with electric motors, hinting at Volvo’s electrified future. A high-tech diesel engine that monitors fuel injection levels via computer will also be included as part of the Drive-E platform. We wish the best of luck to Volvo and in this gamble. In the meantime we have this to say: we were quite impressed by the smooth power delivery and acceleration. To make things even better, we achieved 31.4 mpg with the T5 and 23.5 mpg with the superturbo T6.
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