The announcement a few years back that no Volvo would be sold with an engine larger than four cylinders caught some off guard – even the company’s CEO.

The new Volvo XC60

In a frank interview with select media at the 2017 Geneva motor show, Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson suggested that the strategy to only have four-cylinder engines in its models was one he wasn’t entirely sold on even a couple of years ago.

The announcement was made at the 2011 Frankfurt motor show, and at that time Samuelsson wasn’t in the top job at Volvo Cars (he was appointed to the board in 2012). But since then, he said he’s seen the strategy not only work wonders for the brand’s fleet average emissions and consumption, but also be met with praise.

“Absolutely, I think we’re even more committed,” he said of the company’s feeling towards its decision to dump its five-, six- and eight-cylinder engines.

Håkan Samuelsson, President and CEO, Volvo Car Group

“Two years ago you could ask me that, and probably I would have had to answer a different way,” he admitted. “But today, I’m absolutely convinced.

“The reaction of that decision has been very positive. Even in the US – the XC90 was even truck of the year in the US, a big SUV with a four-cylinder engine: that’s a good indication that we took the right decision.

“The number one reason is to bring down fuel consumption: you have lower friction in a smaller engine, it has better consumption. There is cost, especially in installation – even if you get an engine from a partner, which we got from Ford, but installing it in the car is a nightmare with all the piping and everything.”

The existing structure of Volvo – before it was tidied up and turned around by Chinese company Geely – was a bit of a mess, according to Samuelsson.

The new Volvo XC60

“I think we had eight different engines in the old Volvo – all different, and all requiring different wiring harnesses and that’s, of course, a lot of complexity, and it eats up the synergy in the base engine itself. Now we have, always, four-cylinder, always installed in the same way – so it’s much more modular and positive,” he said.

The company offers different power outputs for its four-cylinder petrol and four-cylinder diesel engines, and if you’re really into extra grunt there’s the “Twin Engine” plug-in hybrid model, with 300kW of power.