The Volvo Concept You (above) wasn’t a star of the Frankfurt Motor Show. Sure it has a nice coupe-like roofline, but everything else looks just heavy. The big news was elsewhere, when Peter Mertens, head of the R&D, announced that Volvo will cap the number of cylinders of all its future engines to 4. The V70 sells today with an inline-five, the S80 sells with a six, we shall forget them all. The future lies in the inline-four.
Those are big news. This is an extreme commitment to downsizing, that no other manufacturer has ever made. Well, officially, but a quick look at the market shows that Volvo is only confirming the current global trend. Cars like the Buick Regal or the Hyundai Sonata had sixes only a few years ago, but those don’t exist anymore. It’s a four or nothing. Stefan Jacoby, Volvo’s CEO, followed with the idea that performance will not suffer. In fact, it will be quite the opposite. Future cars from the Swedish brand will be faster than today, thanks to more tech, like direct injection and turbocharging, and electric assistance. That’s hybrids! Toyota’s latest hybrid Camry offers good performance from a 2.4-liter four cylinder with a strong electric motor, we guess the most powerful Volvo of the future shall share most of its characteristics with it.
Of course, many car enthusiasts will lament the disappearance of large engines, but environmentalists will rejoice. This downsizing with hybridization should drastically reduce the fuel consumption of larger Volvo models, and the only thing to worry about might be the sound. But Stefan Jacoby assured us its engineers are working on that. Future Volvo fours will sound close to an eight. Car enthusiasts will just have to stop counting cylinders, some clever marketing might be needed.