Volvo XC60 Diesel

Diesel Engine

Volvo diesel engines deliver exceptional fuel economy, performance and handling in all driving conditions. Explore Volvo's range of diesel cars today.

What is a diesel engine?

Diesel engines are an alternative form of internal combustion engine to more common petrol engines.

They are immensely popular in Europe, though only in recent years in Australia has diesel overcome dated views about being a dirty and smelly fuel.

While petrol and diesel engines are similar in basic concept – turning burned fuel into energy that powers a vehicle – they differ in key detailed areas.

For starters – literally, in the case of firing the engines – a diesel engine compresses air in each cylinder to such an extent that the resulting heat instantaneously burns the fuel subsequently injected.

A petrol engine instead uses a spark plug to ignite a more equal mixture of air and fuel, which is squeezed with less pressure by the pistons in the cylinders.

Engineers commonly refer to the two types of engines as compression ignition (CI) and spark ignition (SI).

Diesel motors are notably more economical in their consumption of fuel thanks to this higher compression ratio and the denser, more energy-rich diesel fuel that burns at a slower, more progressive rate than petrol.

This partly compensates for diesel emissions that aren’t as clean as petrol exhaust gasses, owing to a greater concentration of nitrogen oxide. Diesel particulate filter technology, however, has helped to limit the output of so-called soot that contributes to smog.

There are also contrasting performance characteristics between diesel and petrol engines. Because diesels have a longer piston stroke than petrols, the combustion cycle takes longer and engine revolutions are limited by an inability to get sufficient air into the cylinder. A natural rev limit for a diesel is between 4500 and 5000rpm, where petrol engines typically rev anywhere between 6000 and 9000rpm depending on the vehicle.

However, a diesel’s higher-energy fuel helps to exert more pressure on the piston and therefore make the engine work harder at lower revs – giving the engine its characteristically high torque. It’s this pulling power that makes diesel engines ideal for towing trailers and caravans.

Volvo Diesel Engine

Volvo Diesels

Volvo has been offering diesel power since 1979 with the 240 GL D6, and every Volvo Car offered today is available with at least one diesel engine option.

They range from the D2 with its impressively low fuel consumption of 4.1 litres per 100 kilometres to the Drive-E D5 with its outstanding power and torque outputs of 173kW and 480Nm.

Our Drive-E D5 twin-turbo diesel engines feature revolutionary i-ART direct fuel injection that ensures each cylinder receives the perfect dosage of fuel for maximum efficiency.

There’s also Volvo’s world-first PowerPulse, a technology that overcomes traditional ‘turbo lag’ – the delay that can be caused while exhaust gases are building sufficient pressure to spool up the turbo.

When the driver presses the accelerator at standstill or low speed in a Volvo equipped with PowerPulse, an electric compressor fires high-pressure air into the exhaust flow to provide instantaneous throttle response.

From there, the Drive-E D5’s two sequential turbochargers take responsibility for boosting engine performance.

Volvo Diesel Cars

Quick guide to Volvo diesel models