Volvo XC90 V8 AWD (2004)

Volvo XC90 V8 AWD

A Volvo XC90 with V8 power under the bonnet not only puts added performance on the tarmac - it also sharpens Volvo's competitive edge in the tough SUV segment.

In the USA, about 30 percent of all SUVs sold in the premium segment have V8 engines. This means that five- and six-cylinder versions of the Volvo XC90 have thus far only exploited 70 percent of the market potential - yet still achieved a resounding success. The 30 percent gap has now been covered.

"Our V8 package feels immensely solid. When it comes to power and performance, we're in the same class as the very best in the segment. What's more, we're sure that a large proportion of these customers will appreciate the fact that the power and driveability can be combined with high safety and good environmental properties. It's important that we can launch a V8 without compromising on our core values," says Volvo Cars President and CEO Hans-Olov Olsson.

V8 tailor-made for the XC90

In order to maintain overall compactness, all the ancillary units such as the alternator are fitted directly onto the engine itself without any space-stealing brackets. The starter motor is fitted above the transmission for the same reason.

What is more, the exhaust camshafts are driven by secondary chains running off the inlet camshafts, saving additional space.

The left-hand cylinder bank is offset half a cylinder ahead of the right bank, contradicting normal practice in the automotive world - so the engine can slot neatly into the structural beam network of the XC90 and thus enhance collision safety.

"We've tailored this V8 specifically for the XC90," confirms Hans Wikman.

The result is a V8 that is just 754 mm long and 635 mm wide - the most compact on the market compared to engines of equivalent volume.

As a result of these compact dimensions and the fact that both the block and cylinder head are cast in aluminium, Volvo's new V8 weighs just 190 kg - an important consideration when aiming for low fuel consumption.

First launch of petrol V8 to meet ULEV II

The new engine from Volvo is the cleanest petrol V8 on the market today. It meets the American ULEV II (Ultra Low Emission Vehicle, stage II) - which no other petrol V8 has yet managed.

"This is an achievement we're really proud of," says Jörgen Svensson, Chief Programme Engineer.

ULEV II has been met with the help of:

  • Four catalytic converters. Two of these are of Close Coupled Catalyst type and fitted to one exhaust manifold each. The other two are installed under the car floor.
  • Higher idling speed at cold start, about 1250 r/min, and optimised ignition for faster warming of the engine at cold start and thus also the catalytic converters
  • Lean air/fuel mixture for lower emissions at cold start

The result is extremely low emissions before the catalytic converters are activated - which takes place just 15 to 20 seconds after the engine starts up.

"It is during these 15-20 seconds that the majority of the emissions of environmentally harmful substances take place," explains Jörgen Svensson.

The 4-valve engine also features continuous variable inlet and exhaust valve timing (CVVT). This system adjusts the valve opening times so they suit the engine's current revs and load conditions. The engine is thus utilised more efficiently, cutting fuel consumption, lowering emissions and increasing performance

Distinct V8 sound

The Volvo XC90 V8 produces 315 horsepower and its torque - the most important characteristic of a V8 engine - is a massive 440 Nm at 3900 r/min. And at the sort of revs at which most driving takes place, around 2000 r/min, no less than 370 Nm of torque is at the driver's disposal.

To increase the low end torque, the Volvo V8 has a valve in the inlet manifold that is closed below 3200 rpm. In this mode the air flow between the two cylinder banks is cut off, which creates a broader and more even torque curve.

"We chose to give our new V8 a sporty yet sophisticated appeal, with masses of power in reserve even as the revs rise," explains Jörgen Svensson.

Acceleration from 0 to 100 km/h takes 7.3 seconds and fuel consumption is 13.3 litres/100 km (5-seater). Top speed is limited to 210 km/h (190 km/h in the USA).

The engine note is an important detail for buyers of a car with V8 power, and this is something to which Volvo Cars paid careful attention during the development of the new engine. In the hunt for that characteristic V8 rumble, it is the position of the inlet manifolds that is the main deciding factor.

"Our new V8 has just the right sort of charismatic off-beat V8 burble, but it is somewhat more muted in the European fashion rather than producing the more traditional meaty American throb. We feel this provides better audio comfort for the car's occupants," comments Jörgen Svensson.

Spotlight on driving characteristics and performance

The excellent safety and environmental properties add a healthy measure of extra spice to a V8 market where buyers often base their choices on emotional arguments such as driving pleasure, power - and even engine sound.

In the world of V8 development, engine sound is a science in its own right. A traditional American V8 has a throaty offbeat growl, while Europeans favour a slightly smoother, sportier rumble.

"Our V8 has what it takes to attract American buyers. That classical V8 throb is there, but it's overlaid with a more sophisticated touch that clearly announces that this is a European premium SUV," explains Hans-Olov Olsson.

Three-quarters to North America

Volvo Cars plans to sell 15,000 Volvo XC90 V8s a year, with 75 percent of total production going to North America.

The USA is without comparison the largest V8 market, followed by Canada and Mexico. Germany takes fourth place and Japan comes in fifth.

Sales will start in the USA in early 2005, after which the Volvo XC90 V8 will be introduced gradually on other markets.

Award-winning sales success

The Volvo XC90 has been an enormous sales success for Volvo Cars. The original production volume of 50,000 cars a year has been successively increased, and since spring 2004 annual XC90 production in the company's Torslanda factory in Sweden has been raised to 90,000.

What is more, the Volvo XC90 has received more international awards in a shorter period of time than any other Volvo.

"When we introduced the Volvo XC90, we claimed that we were the first manufacturer with the next-generation SUV. Now we know that our customers share that view. The combination of a compact SUV with up to seven seats, a high level of safety, the driving properties of a passenger-car, and competitive environmental properties, has helped make the Volvo XC90 one of the automotive world's most highly acclaimed models," says Hans-Olov Olsson.