Volvo has revealed its latest motor concept, and if you didn’t consider the Swedish brand to be particularly sporty or cutting edge, prepare to reevaluate your opinions. This 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine before you comes with no less than three turbines, and should put out at least 450 horsepower, all with squeaky clean emissions and top-notch fuel efficiency.

If you didn’t know, Volvo is a leader in modern twin-charging; that is, equipping an engine with both a supercharger and a turbocharger. The idea goes like this, a supercharger provides low-rev grunt as the turbo spools up. Once the boost is built, a turbo takes over, providing high-end punch, essentially yielding a super-efficient engine with a broader powerband.

This particular powerplant is an evolution of the previous Drive-E twin-charged engine, but instead of using a supercharger to build boost, Volvo uses an electrically powered turbo compressor. This feeds compressed air to two parallel turbochargers, and voila, the triple boosted engine is born.

Click past the jump to read more about Volvo’s New 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept.

Volvo 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept in detail

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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Providing enough fuel for a system like triple charging can be a challenge, so Volvo uses dual fuel pumps working at 250 bar (3,626 PSI) to make sure demands are met at full song.

So far, the engine remains a concept, but has already garnered significant attention, especially from Volvo’s factory racing team, Polestar.

“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. Above all, its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axles, and lowers the center of gravity; "two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car,” said Mattias Evensson, Race Engine Director at Volvo Polestar Racing, in a press release.

Actually using a triple-boosted engine in regulated motorsport remains an issue to be resolved, but that shouldn’t stop Volvo from putting this concept into use in its street cars. After all, isn’t more better?

Why It Matters

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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Squeezing every last ounce of performance from a petrol motor can be difficult in the face of ever-tightening regulations on mileage and emissions. The result, however, seems to be innovation. Volvo isn’t afraid to push the envelope when it comes to designing new powerplants, and I think technology like triple charging is a step in the right direction.

Press Release

Volvo delivers a unique combination of performance and efficiency with the High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept - a triple boost 2-liter 4-cylinder petrol engine with no less than 450 hp.

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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Following the successful introduction of Volvo’s Drive-E Powertrain range in 2013, Volvo’s powertrain team once again demonstrates its technological leadership in emission-reducing turbo technology.

“When we launched the Drive-E powertrain family, our aim was to deliver the most advanced 4-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. The 450 hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept, demonstrates this ambition and the versatility of the Drive-E Powertrains,” says Dr. Peter Mertens, Senior Vice President for Research and Development at Volvo Car Group.

The 450 hp High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept is based on a set of technologies not usually found in a four cylinder engine. The engine utilizes two parallel turbochargers, which are fed by an electrically powered turbo-compressor. The compressed air from this unit, rather than being fed to the cylinders, is instead used to spool up the two parallel turbochargers. Fuel is fed by a dual fuel pump working at 250 bar pressure. With this kind of power density, this triple boost installation and unique fuel system, enables a very dynamic drivability without any turbo lag, compared to a mono-turbo.

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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“There are several high power small size applications where one large turbo is used to create a high level of power available from other manufacturers, but the driving experience suffers due to slow engine response. We felt that with our heritage of being among the first car companies to embrace and offer a broad range of turbo technology since 1981, that we could improve this,” says Michael Fleiss, Vice President of Powertrain Engineering at Volvo Car Group.

The High Performance Drive-E Powertrain Concept attracted the attention and involvement of Volvo Cars suppliers AVL, Denso and Volvo Polestar Racing at an early stage, which allowed theories and technologies from racing applications to be infused in the development process.

“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. Above all, its compact size improves weight distribution between the front and rear axle and lowers the center of gravity - two factors that have a significant effect on the handling, whether it is a race car or a street car,” said Mattias Evensson, Race Engine Director at Volvo Polestar Racing.

Volvo Reveals 450 HP Drive-E Powertrain Concept Drivetrain
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“It may sound odd, but this 450 hp powertrain concept is an important part of the Drive-E development program. Down-sizing 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,” concludes Dr. Mertens.

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