Less is more. And proving this adage to be true, Volvo has followed the trend towards smaller, fuel-efficient engines without sacrificing power through its new Drive-e powerplants.
And where better to test the new powerplants than on winding mountainous roads in the south of France.
A group of motoring journalists were recently let loose on an unsuspecting French population in the latest S60, V60 and XC60 models, all powered by the new range of engines.
Dubbed the Drive-e powertrain by the Swedish boffins, the two-litre, four-cylinder petrol engines come in two guises, the turbocharged T5 making 180kW and the T6 which harnesses both supercharger and turbocharger to make 225kW.
The T6 superturbo uses both supercharger and turbo at below 3500rpm, but then only uses the turbocharger above 3500rpm. Power is either up or at least comparable to the outgoing, larger-capacity engines.
There will also be diesel options using what Volvo call i-art.
At the heart of both petrol and diesel engines is thermal management (optimising heating and cooling), advanced combustion, frictionless technology and advanced boosting, all designed to improve power and save fuel.
Carbon emissions are also low, coming in under the stringent Swedish regulation, meaning Volvo owners can have their cake and eat it with more power and a greener footprint.
The time has come to stop counting cylinders, says Volvo, and rather look at smaller, efficient engines that provide more power while providing a weight saving. The four-cylinder engines are 50kg lighter than the outgoing sixes, a substantial saving on weight.
Add the claimed 35 percent improvement in fuel efficiency and Volvo provides a compelling argument for its ethos that less is more.
GOOD NEWS AND BAD NEWS
In addition, the move to using one architecture for eight power derivatives means cost savings on engines and gearboxes, with greater commonalities on the production line.
And now for the good news and the bad news – the good is that the new powerplants are superb, no other word describes them better. I would happily have bet my paycheque that we were driving vehicles with larger engine capacities had I not known otherwise. There was no turbo lag in both the T5 and T6 engines, just a steady, linear power delivery mated seamlessly to the new six-speed auto gearbox.
The T6 was my favourite, with the supercharger providing low-end torque and response on pull away and at low speeds and the turbocharger delivering seamless horsepower at higher speeds.
POINT AND SQUIRT
With these Volvos it’s really just a case of point and squirt and enjoy the ride. The gearbox is so refined that it seemed pointless shifting it into sport mode or using the F1-type paddles behind the steering wheel. We also drove the XC60 with the new D4 diesel engine with common-rail direct-injection, and this too had virtually no turbo lag and sounded very refined.
Although the Volvos provided a hushed ride, we could still hear a satisfying aural overtone under hard acceleration, not enough to make the hair on your arms rise, but still satisfying.
The onboard computers indicated that fuel consumption was very close to the claimed figures with the V60 for instance using 6.4litres per 100km.
The bad news is that production only begins in November and we can only expect the first vehicles to arrive on our shores around January 2014.
There will be a gradual transition to the new powerplants over the next two years, and Volvo will continue to sell its popular five and six-cylinder models for some time.
Pricing is not available at this stage. - Star Motoring