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Engine downsizing is nothing new in this world of ever-tightening emissions regulations, but one automaker is making a bold push well ahead of any government mandates. Sources within Volvo say the Swedish automaker is moving towards a four-cylinder only lineup.

A person familiar with the situation revealed to Auto Motor and Sport that Volvo will do away with five-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines in favor of four-cylinder powerplants. The move is intended to help Volvo comply with European regulations well in advance of their deadlines – which could require sub 95 g/km CO2 emissions by 2020 — allowing the automaker to better focus on other aspects of its business.

However, despite the reduced number of cylinders, don’t expect a significant – if any – drop off in power. Through the use of turbocharging, direct-injection and other technologies, Volvo expects its four-cylinder engines to be just as powerful as its current engine offerings.

Development has already begun on the new range of four-cylinders – which will vary in displacement – but the first example, a 1.6L diesel, isn’t expected to hit the market until at least 2011.

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