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Volvo joins the green bandwagon


IT’S NOT very often that a manufacturer produces a new range of engines that use an entirely different manufacturing, engineering and thinking process. But this is exactly what Volvo has done with its new powertrain range that will slot into three of its current models (for the meantime).

The new range of engines and transmissions are called the Drive-E series. These new engines consist of both a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo-petrol and -diesel. The motors have been produced specifically for countries like South Africa where we don’t have the infrastructure to make alternative fuel and electric-powered vehicles feasible. 

Volvo has aimed to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 figures while maintaining a certain level of performance. These new models replace eight existing engine architectures in three platforms. These are the first powertrains to be fully developed, tested and produced by Volvo. Eventually these and other Drive-E four-cylinder units will power the whole Volvo range.

The new diesel engine is a 1 969cc unit that produces 133kW and 400Nm thanks to the use of twin turbocharging. The figures are impressive: fuel consumption is a claimed 4.1 litres/100km in the S60 D4 and CO2 is 107g/km. The economy comes in no small part thanks to the new i-Art system, which makes it possible to continuously monitor and adapt fuel injection per combustion in each of the four cylinders. Each injector has a small computer on top of it that monitors injection pressure. Using this information, the self-adapting system makes sure that the ideal amount of fuel is injected during each
combustion cycle.

The petrol engine produces 180kW and 350Nm and does so thanks to friction-reduction measures such as ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump. This means fuel consumption of 6.1 litres/100km and CO2 emissions of 142g/km in the V60 T5 model.

There is also a new eight-speed automatic gearbox that has been developed alongside the new engines. The customer still has the option of a six-speed manual, which has been improved slightly to aid in consumption. The new powertrain combination reduces fuel consumption by between 15% and 35% and weight savings of 30kg to 50kg.

Initially we will only get these new engines in the XC60 SUV, V60 wagon and S60 saloon in both T5 petrol and D4 diesel guises. The turbo- and supercharged 225kW T6 model will follow later, which will deliver impressive figures of 6.4 litres/100km and 149g/km.
Having driven the XC60 with both the diesel and petrol motors, I can report that they are an improvement over their predecessors in terms of refinement and efficiency. The new superslick eight-speed gearbox is the most impressive feature and is much improved over its Geartronic predecessor.

The Drive-E engines will be available from this month while the T6 and V40 D4 will arrive towards the end of the year. The V40 T5 can be expected as around the halfway mark in 2014.

Article written by Sean Nurse
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