Volvo’s New Game-Changing Drive-E Engines

Volvo S60 Drive-E

My review car last week was Volvo’s latest model, and is a taste of what’s to come, and it marks a radical change in the way Volvo builds cars.
The S60 compact was mildly updated last year with a new front fascia and interior, but for 2015 it debuts Volvo’s new engines of the future.
They’re called Drive-E, an environmentally friendly name, but they are more exciting than the name might suggest.

The 2.0-liter motors are all four-cylinder and are set to replace the five, six and eight-cylinder engines across the Volvo lineup. Lots of car companies have been downsizing their engines in recent years to meet ever more stringent fuel economy and emissions standards, but Volvo is the automaker to commit to an all four-banger portfolio across such a wide array of vehicles.

The S60 gets the first two of them: a 240-horsepower turbocharged engine and another that uses both turbocharging and supercharging to produce a whopping 302-horsepower. They’re called T5 and T6, to give you an idea of how many cylinders each is supposed to replace. My review car was the T6. More important than the power of the T6 is the way it delivers it.

Turbochargers run off of the exhaust and need to spin up before they produce enough boost to do any good, so an engine fitted with one can feel weak when you first step on the accelerator pedal. Superchargers are the opposite. They’re connected to the crankshaft and start working immediately, but they can become less efficient at high engine speeds. Combine the two and you get the best of both worlds. That is, as long as you can juggle them well.

In Volvo’s case, the supercharger has a clutch that disengages it when the turbo is ready to take over. The handoff varies, but it happens at about 3,500 rpm under full throttle. You’d never know it, though.

The S60 leaps off the line, with a little of that wonderful supercharger whine that’s more familiar at drag strips than strip malls, reminding you there’s something different under the hood, and it just keeps on going with an imperceptible transition to the turbocharger that takes it the rest of the way.

As I talk about on the air all the time, technology is changing at a more rapid pace than any time in history. Volvo really has something with this engine!

Jerry Reynolds, The Car Pro


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