Volvo Cars reveals 450 horsepower High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept

Volvo has unveiled its “High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept” – a triple-charged 2.0 litre four-cylinder petrol engine prototype that produces “no less than 450 hp.”

That’s an astounding 225 hp per litre of displacement, almost double the output of the 2.0 litre T5 Drive-E and even more than that of the new XC90’s 2.0 litre T8 twin-charged plug-in hybrid powertrain.

The new engine features two parallel turbos which are fed by an electrically-operated turbo compressor (Kia and Audi are also working on electrically-driven forced induction systems, both on diesel engines).

Instead of pushing compressed air into the cylinders, the compressor is used to quickly spool up the turbos, minimising the lag usually associated with a parallel turbo system. Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure.

Volvo says the powertrain concept has attracted suppliers such as AVL, Denso and Volvo Polestar Racing at an early stage, and this has allowed critical knowledge and technologies gained from racing to trickle into the development process.

“When we launched the Drive-E powertrain family, our aim was to deliver the most advanced four-cylinder engines in the industry based on emissions and fuel consumption relative to performance and drivability. We knew that 320 hp in our petrol configuration was just a starting point,” said Volvo R&D senior vice-president Dr Peter Mertens.

“It may sound odd, but this 450 hp powertrain concept is an important part of the Drive-E development programme. Downsizing must offer customers attractive and usable power for broad scale emissions reduction to work. Compact powertrains free up space and weight in the structure of the car, which can be used for electrification and even further emissions reduction. And that is our ultimate ambition.”

“This was a very exciting project as we pioneered a combination of technologies in the same application, and the result is a quite unique engine with its high power yet quick response,” said Volvo Polestar Racing race engine director Mattias Evensson.

“Above all, its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the centre of gravity – two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car.”

No word for now on when the impressive engine will become a production reality, or what car it’ll power first, but if or when it does, it could become the most powerful series-produced four-cylinder engine in the world.