Volvo says big engines are over
Volvo has news for anyone who still equates prestige and performance cars with large capacity petrol-powered engines. The six cylinder and V8 engines are, it reckons, going the same way as the dodo and the dinosaur.
The Swedish manufacturer has announced its future large cars and SUVs, including replacements for the S80 and XC90, will be powered by four-cylinder engines to give decent fuel consumption and carbon emission outputs, but have power boosted by forced induction methods such as turbocharging.
Volvo Car Corporation CEO Stefan Jacoby says that buyers will have to get used to the fact that four-cylinder motoring is the way of the future and that sixes and V8s are no longer the standard by which performance should be measured.
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"It's a logical step if you have a white sheet of paper and determine automobiles today you only engineer logically for four cylinders," he says.
"Unfortunately the times where we could count cylinders and think this is a performance-related issue are over. We can with a modern top-of-the-class engine technology get the same performance as a high-performance six-cylinder engine."
Volvo intends to use a modular platform that is modified to suit mid and large-sized sedans and SUVs called the Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) into which fits various four cylinder engines of varying power outputs.
Other manufacturers are concentrating on low-emission, high-output fours - including BMW or, much closer to home, Ford with the upcoming EcoBoost 2.0-litre turbocharged Falcon - but Volvo is going one step further by abandoning its five-, six- and eight-cylinder petrol engines altogether.
Mr Jacoby says that the number of cylinders a car's engine has will become largely irrelevant given that forced induction and the addition of an electric motor to give high-powered four cylinder hybrid powertrain outputs of between "150 to 300 horsepower" or about 110 to 225 kilowatts.
"We have the technology available that brings you the same fun to drive than with the classical six or eight cylinders," he says.
"The times of cylinders is really over, it goes into the direction of four cylinder, goes into the direction of three cylinders or even two cylinders which are downsized, and which are powered by turbochargers and twin-chargers and compressors and all these things."
Mr Jacoby says the first production example of Volvo's SPA platform will be the XC90 replacement due in 2014.