Among the many new things the recently launched Volvo XC90 brought for the Swedish automaker, there’s one that caught our attention. The large-size SUV spearheads a powertrain revolution.
Volvo Cars – now under the control of Chinese automaker Geely – is moving away from the engines that were once the panache of every premium carmaker – the big V6 and V8s. The brand is now ready to discard them in favor of environmentally friendlier, technologically advanced 4-cylinder gas, diesel and hybrid engines. Executives even point to further developments along the downsizing line – all in the bid to embrace both performance and fuel economy (also read lower emissions to reach future standards).
“A few years ago, I would have said this was a risky strategy,” admitted Lex Kerssemakers, Volvo’s global product strategy chief. “A 3-cylinder is the perfect engine for turbocharging,” he stressed.
That’s right, the Swedish brand also plans to introduce an entire line-up of 3-cylinder engines, and is also mulling the introduction of two different plug-in hybrid powertrains. After promoting its new “all four-cylinder” strategy for some time, the maker also started developing a smaller 3-cylinder in 2013 – essentially cutting out a cylinder from the inline-four Drive-E powertrain. Michael Fleiss, the powertrain boss, says the displacement of the new engine will be of 1.5 liters and because it’s so small it’s ideal for a future small-size hybrid.