Efficient new engine range, due to be rolled out after 2016, will help Volvo to reach strict emissions targets
23 August 2014

Volvo has confirmed that its new three-cylinder engines will enter production later this decade after all four-cylinder versions of the Drive-E family have been rolled out by 2016.

The 1.5-litre three-cylinder turbocharged engines will make their way up the Volvo range as far as the S60 and V60 
family and mid-level XC SUVs.

The three-cylinder engines will eventually be a key component of hybrid drivetrains when they are expected to become mainstream in the early part of the next decade.

Derek Crabb, Volvo’s global powertrain boss, confirmed the roll-out and purpose of the three-cylinder Drive-E, with a petrol variant expected first. Crabb declined to say how many variants would be built but was clear that the line-up wouldn’t be as comprehensive as that of the 2.0-litre engines, of which there will be four variants of each plus powered-up Polestar versions.

“I see it [the triple] being possible in S60 but not higher,” Crabb said. “It’s not planned for the higher XC cars at the moment. It’s not the power. It’s more to do with the torque.”

Crabb revealed that the engines will play a key role in the electrification of the Volvo powertrain line-up as it pushes to hit a 75g/km CO2 corporate average emissions target by the mid-2020s.

“Our average now is 
120g/km in Europe. By 2020, we have to get down to 95g/km but in Australia we have to get down to 75g/km in the same timeframe,” he said. “If you really get your engineering right, you can get through 
95g/km without electrification.”

Crabb predicts that Volvo can avoid the need for mass-electrification of its vehicles for another decade. “Hopefully, by 2025, electrification will be more commercially sensible and then you will have higher-power electrics, but you’ll need three-cylinder engines. So introducing a three-cylinder engine is creating building blocks through to 2025.”

The four versions of Volvo’s new four-cylinder engines in both the petrol and diesel 

line-ups are split into entry-level, low, medium and high power outputs.

The diesels are single or twin-turbo, depending on their outputs. The petrols are all single turbo except for the high-power T6, which adds supercharging for improved bottom-end response.

Crabb confirmed that power upgrades were planned for each engine in the new Drive-E family every two years. 

Volvo has also designed hybrid ability into its new corporate drivetrain, with the capacity to fit a motor generator onto the front axle or an e-motor on the rear axle as per the ‘T8’ petrol-electric drivetrain that will be used 
by the XC90.

Bruce Newton

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Our Verdict

Volvo XC90 2003-2014
The XC90 led the charge for seven seat SUVs when it launched in 2003

The Volvo XC90 is a big seven seat SUV in desperate need of modernisation, despite still having some strengths

25 September 2014
You make a very good point. The fight against carbon emissions should be strenghten and the latest UN actions seem to suport this ideology. I hope more manufacturer will look into this as we should take care of out environment. Hybrid cars are looking really well for the future but the transition will be difficult. I stil hope we'll get on the right track soon..

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