Fresh on the heels of their Drive-E line of engines that use both turbocharging and supercharging, Volvo has announced another break from the norm with plans to make a 2.0L four-cylinder engine that uses not one, not two, but three turbochargers. The result, Volvo promises, will be at least 450 horsepower from the unit, with potential to still post impressive fuel economy numbers.
The company says they are focused on small engines that weigh less and take up less space, and also leave the door open for the possibility of electrification down the road. Most automakers are changing the way they think about engines, but Volvo appears to really be breaking the mold lately.
This year, the turbocharged and supercharged Drive-E engine with 320 horsepower has debuted in the S60 sedan, V60 wagon and XC60 crossover to positive reviews. It seems a good bet that the new version, dubbed the High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept, could be headed for those models as well.
As for how it works, we'll leave it to Volvo to explain:
"The engine utilizes two parallel turbochargers, which are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, is instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers. Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure. With this kind of power density, this triple boost installation and unique fuel system, enables a very dynamic driveability without any turbo lag, compared to a mono-turbo."
The days of slapping a big turbo on an engine and calling it a performance model are apparently outdated, if not completely gone. Volvo says the idea not only keeps size and weight down, but also results in better weight distribution and lowers the overall center of gravity. Volvo Polestar Racing, the motorsports unit that runs a team in V8 Supercars this year, has already expressed interest in converting the concept for the track.
Volvo has not announced when the High Performance Drive-E might meet production, but we'll have that information posted as soon as they do. In the meantime, it will be interesting to see whether their competitors explore triple-turbo engines of their own.