Drive Time: V-8 roar still found among 4-cylinder rush
April 7, 2017
Who would have ever thought 4-cylinder engines could become the dominant power choice beneath the hoods of automobiles in the U.S., even for the luxury models?
Most car makers today are turning to 2.0-liter turbocharged power for much of their lineup.
Named car of the year at the Denver Auto Show this week is the 2017 Volvo S90, a 4,000-pound all-wheel-drive sedan, powered by a 2.0-liter, 4-cylinder, which is both turbocharged and supercharged. Tied to an 8-speed automatic transmission, it generates 316 horsepower and earned a fuel-mileage rating of 31 on the highway.
Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Audi are offering 4s. Even Jaguar is promoting turbo-4s for its XE and XF sedans.
Eighty-five years ago, Henry Ford began popularizing the V-8 with introduction in 1932 of his flathead block, and the well-balanced engines of Ford and many other manufacturers reigned into the oil embargo years of the '70s.
I had one of those flathead V-8s in my '48 Ford two-door at Sterling High School. It was pretty darn quick, I thought. One evening, a kid named Pat Dorsey pulled beside me in his Ford Woody Wagon on a quiet rural road, said, "Wanna drag?" My Ford had dual exhausts and the heads had been planed. Was he serious? "Sure," I responded. Today, it's not important which car beat the other; I do remember keeping a fairly low profile around school the next couple of days.
Chevy kept the V-8 rage going with its small-block buster in 1955, one of the last along with Pontiac and Plymouth to add two more cylinders.
Diminished though the 8-cylinder list may be today, powerful V-8 engines still are produced.
I've driven one with 416 horsepower in a 2017 Infiniti Q70L sedan from Greeley to the Colorado Convention Center twice this week for the Denver Auto Show. The horsepower is 25 more than the Nissan Titan pickup is rated with its 5.6 V-8. Infiniti is the luxury division for Nissan.
The luxurious Q70L is an extended-length version of the Q70. It is of 6-inch longer wheelbase at 120 inches and is 202 inches in overall length, 4 inches longer than the Mercedes-Benz S550.
The 4,300-pounder will accelerate from 0 to 60 in 4.5 seconds. It is equipped with a 7-speed automatic transmission with manual mode, and its all-wheel drive setup will automatically transfer power to the wheels needing it for improved traction and control.
The Q70L shares a sport suspension with the Nissan 370Z and gives way to bumpy ride at times.
It has a muscularly wide front end and rides on 20-inch sport wheels with Bridgestone Potenza 245/40R20 tires. It boasts lots of interior room, particularly in the rear-seating area which is most benefited by the lengthened structure. The trunk space of 14.9 cubic feet is on the smallish side for a midsize luxury car.
Its comfortable, heated and cooled front seats of dark leather are trimmed in white piping. The Q70 model hasn't had an interior redesign since 2011.
The extended-length Q70L with V-8 and all-wheel drive is base-priced at $67,400. A $3,300 premium option includes rear decklid spoiler and dark exterior trims, sport brakes, suede-like headliner, aluminum interior trim and illuminated kick plates. Its sticker price is $71,605.
It competes with the Lexus GS, Audi A6, Mercedes E Class, BMW 5 series and Genesis G80.
Bud Wells, a native of Wray, is a former Page 1 editor of the Denver Post and has reviewed automobiles for the past 40 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.