In the pursuit of lower emissions and higher fuel economy, most of the big manufacturers are shrinking their engines, reducing the cylinder count and slapping turbos (and stupid names) onto them. Step forward Ford’s 1.0T EcoBoost.
Some manufacturers have gone their own way of course, but few solutions are as kooky as the one Volvo has chosen. Potentially replacing the five-cylinder T5 across the range, Volvo has let details slip on a 2.0-litre twincharged engine, mustering up over 300hp, or 150hp per litre. Complete with a silly name of DRIVe – in line with Volvo’s other eco efforts – the unit utilises both a turbocharger and a supercharger.
While we covered turbocharging vs supercharging last month, we didn’t mention twincharged setups, largely because they’re fabulously rare in standard vehicles and extremely complex and fragile in general. However, a working system with a warranty provides the best of both worlds – giving instant, lag-free power courtesy of the supercharger and making up the shortfall caused by its parasitic losses with the turbo.
Volvo isn’t the first company to take a bash at making twincharging work. Volkswagen has been offering the technology on 1.4-litre versions of its TSI engine in the Polo and Golf since 2005 – producing up to 180hp in that application.
But the history of twincharging goes back to the glorious days of every petrolhead’s favourite era of motorsport, Group B rally. In the pursuit of massive power from small engines, Lancia developed a twincharged 1.8-litre engine good for well in excess of 500hp in competition trim and providing colossal shove from low engine speeds that the big turbo cars couldn’t manage. Small wonder it managed 15 podium finishes in 12 rallies.
It wasn’t just for stupendous power that twincharging was used. Nissan went potty in 1988 and produced a run of 10,000 Japanese-market only Micras (called the Nissan March) with a 0.9-litre twincharged engine. The March Superturbo, as it was known, made 110hp and would outrun a Peugeot 205 GTI or Golf GTi or, if you could resist that temptation, return over 40mpg combined.
So while we’re probably going to miss Volvo’s T5 for its unique sound, the likely replacement unit sounds pretty tempting. After all, what’s not to like about a supercharger and a turbocharger?