Volvo Penta D4 and D6, new generation

With over 100,000 units sold since 2003, Volvo Penta have given their D4 and D6 engines a complete makeover, a new Aquamatic sterndrive, updated IPS drive, and upgraded Electronic Vessel Control System

by Francesco Michienzi

Visiting the Volvo Penta test centre at Krossholmen, near Gothenburg in Sweden, is the best way of finding out what the future holds for pleasure boating. The centre is a unique facility, where new engines, IPS pods, sterndrives, vessel management and control systems can be tested throughout the year in all sea and weather conditions.

This is the place where Volvo Penta’s commitment to quality, safety and environmental responsibility is palpable.

Every time we’re invited to a preview of new features at the Swedish facility, we get a better idea of their philosophy, and their way of doing business in an industry operating on a global market. We admire how they present themselves as a large, complex mechanism, consisting of numerous cogs working in harmony to achieve the best result in what they do.

Volvo Penta

It’s not just about logic or cold mechanical or electronic engineering, but also endless passion and pride in belonging to an industry that is continually evolving to meet modern sailing requirements.

Listening to the new features presented by innovative engineers, who have worked day and night to optimise their technical solutions, fills you with the positivity of the work and of working in a team, which may include Johan Inden, Chairman of Volvo Penta for Europe, Anders Thorin, Power System Research Manager, Anna Lindgren in Marine Product Planning, or Thorbjorn Lundqvist, director for new technologies, to name but a few. Not forgetting of course the Italian contingent, Nicola Pomi, Vice Chairman of Volvo Penta Europe and Andrea Piccione, Marine Sales Manager at Volvo Penta Italy. Not only did they convey their expertise, but also the enormous passion that drives them.

The fresh-faced engineer Ingela Nordstrom is responsible for the development of the new D4 and D6 engines, and I was struck by her enthusiasm and the clarity she used when talking about these propellers. The D4/D6 is the Volvo Penta’s most technically advanced package. Designed exclusively for marine applications, the 3.7 litre D4 and 5.5 litre D6 deliver torque that ensures maximum power is transferred to the propellers at any speed. Most of the components have been totally re-engineered. The D4 and D6 deliver performance output of between 150 and 480 hp.

Volvo Penta D4

The D4 now has a maximum output of 320 hp, while the D6 boasts 480 hp.

With not only 10% more power across the range, these engines are also more fuel efficient – between 0.5% and 7.0% (in E5 cycle). The upgrades include a new engine management system, fuel injection system, turbo charger and supercharger. The cylinder head, pistons and valves are new, to cope with the increased performance, and the crankshaft is now also stronger to handle the bigger loads.

There are also new high pressure pumps and a new air filtration system. Volvo Penta has also worked on its IPS driveline, with a focus on more durability with less service requirements and longer maintenance intervals. There is also the added possibility of managing oil changes from directly inside the boat, making the process more efficient. Volvo has also worked on optimising torque transmission, a new oil filtration system, and new propeller shaft seals. Of course we can’t forget about the Aquamatic sterndrive, which comes with significant changes. There is a new hydraulic clutch that allows for silent and smooth shifting, with better handling at low engine speeds, resulting in increased manoeuvrability and comfort at low boat speeds.

Volvo Penta

The hydraulic clutch, together with the steer-by-wire system, which is now standard for DPI, gives improved joystick docking function. The DPI driveline now also comes with a dynamic positioning system, which automatically maintains the boat’s course and position, even in strong currents or windy conditions. The inboard version is also available for shaft and water-jet transmissions.

(Volvo Penta D4 and D6, new generation – – November 2019)