Volvo has opened up with more information on its new family of super-efficient Drive-E 4-cylinder engines that will be introduced globally starting early next year. Ultimately destined to replace all of the automaker's existing engines, the first of these Drive-E alternatives will be introduced here in the 2015 Volvo S60, V60, S80, XC60 and XC70 models.

In presenting these Drive-E motivators, Derek Crabb, Vice President Powertrain Engineering at the Volvo Car Group, noted that despite their lesser cylinder count, Volvo's new smaller but more intelligent engines not only boast output curves that rival those of larger engines with more cylinders, but deliver far superior fuel economy. When bolstered by supplemental electrification such as plug-in hybrid technology, Crabb says their output figures can be brought up to V8 territory.

Originally developed under the Volvo Engine Architecture (VEA) name for use in transverse-mount applications, the Drive-E 4-cylinder engines encompass both gasoline and diesel alternatives on a worldwide basis. Initially, we'll only see two gas-fired variations here in America. The Drive-E T5 is a 2.0-liter turbocharged unit that makes 240 horsepower and 258 lb-ft of torque while the more potent T6 is a 2.0-liter fitted with both a turbocharger and a supercharger that bumps output to 302 ponies and 295 lb-ft of peak twist. By comparison, vital stats for the current 2.5-liter/5-cylinder T5 are 250/266 and 300/325 on the 3.0-liter 6-cylinder T6 (or 325/354 on R-Design models). Smaller and lighter by nearly 100 pounds in some cases, Volvo says the new Drive-E engines will deliver 13-26 percent better fuel economy than their existing counterparts, although official EPA numbers have yet to be released.

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In addition to gains from forced induction, the added efficiency of Volvo's new Drive-E engine family comes from several focused enhancements. They start with an extensive reduction of internal friction levels through the use of things like ball bearings on the camshaft, high-speed continuous variable valve timing and intelligent heat management with a fully variable electric water pump. A sophisticated Start-Stop system and Brake Regeneration also contribute to their mileage-maxing potential as does a new 8-speed automatic transmission. Designed from the start to fully integrate with various forms of electric assist, Crabb says they'll also play a key role in Volvo's future, where hybrids/plug-ins "are destined to be a dominant part of the top end of our range."

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