Twin Engine: When two hearts are better than one
The saying goes that you can’t have your cake and eat it, too. Yet Volvo Cars’ Twin Engine technology shows the Swedish car maker doesn’t necessarily subscribe to popular proverbs.
Volvo’s first Twin Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain, the T8 that debuted on the 2016 XC90 luxury SUV, proved drivers could enjoy the best of two worlds that are typically regarded as contradictory: performance and efficiency.
The T8 Twin Engine, which at the time made the XC90 T8 the world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV, combines a turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder petrol engine with an electric motor.
And the results are remarkable, with the powertrain producing a combined power output of 300kW yet delivering official fuel consumption of just 2.1 litres per 100km and ultra-low emissions of just 49 grams per kilometre.
Multiple driving modes also essentially gave owners three vehicles in one.
The Hybrid mode instructs the Twin Engine powertrain to alternate automatically between the petrol engine and electric motor for the best balance of response and efficiency.
Pure mode excludes the combustion engine to make Twin Engine Volvos powered solely by electric power, allowing zero-emissions motoring for more than 40km (though the petrol engine can be introduced immediately if more urgent acceleration is required).
If maximum performance is desired, pressing Power engages both the petrol engine and electric motor for optimum acceleration.
Above: Volvo XC60 T8 R-Design Plug-in Hybrid
Acceleration is aided by all-wheel-drive traction with the petrol engine powering the front wheels and the electric motor powering the rear wheels, as well as the electric motor’s ability to provide instantaneous maximum torque from rest and all the way into the heart of the rev range: 240Nm from 0-3000rpm.
The petrol engine’s turbocharger and supercharger ensure performance continues at higher revs.
This gives the seven-seater XC90 T8, for example, the ability to sprint from 0-100km/h in just 5.6 seconds.
The T8 Twin Engine is also available on the XC60 SUV, which can accelerate from rest to 100km/h in 5.2 seconds. The official fuel consumption for this version of Volvo’s highly acclaimed luxury SUV is 2.1L/100km.
Cleverly, Volvo Twin Engine models give drivers the option to use a Save mode that can ‘freeze’ the battery charge level when high. This allows the Pure mode to be used when it’s more advantageous, such as in city driving.
Regenerative braking helps to charge the battery while driving.
And it’s a quick and easy process to completely replenish the high-capacity battery pack that power the potent electric motor: simply plug your Twin Engine Volvo into the mains supply and the battery can be fully charged in less than three hours.
Volvo Cars will also introduce a T5 Twin Engine front-wheel-drive powertrain in the future for its compact 40-series models, such as the XC40 SUV.
Differentiated from standard T5 models that use only a four-cylinder turbo petrol engine, the T5 Twin Engine combines an electric motor with a turbocharged 1.5-litre three-cylinder petrol engine and a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
Twin Engine technology will continue to form part of Volvo Cars’ powertrain offerings as it enters a new, ground-breaking era of electrification when all new models from 2019 onwards will have a model that’s either mild hybrids, plug-in hybrids or pure electric vehicles.
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