Unlike Volvo’s six-cylinder S60 and V60 Polestar models, or even the outgoing S80’s narrow angle V8, the new Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform beneath the 90 range is built to accommodate a four-cylinder engine only.
While the four-cylinder powerplant isn’t short on urge, producing 236kW in T6 guise, a proper performance halo is going to need more urge than that.
When paired with a plug-in electric drivetrain in T8 models that figure jumps to 298kW, and therein lies the answer. No, the T8 won’t be the S90’s range topper, but it unlocks the key to more performance.
While there’s still some potential to eek more power out of the 2.0 litre four-cylinder (Mercedes-AMG coaxes 280kW out of an engine the same size) Volvo Cars Chairman, Håkan Samuelsson revealed to Autocar that electrification is the key.
Now that Polestar is a wholly Volvo-owned subsidiary, the future direction of the division has come under closer scrutiny. “How we bring the brand to market is open, but one way we are definitely looking at is for Polestar to focus on electrification.” Samuelsson said.
That backs up comments made by Lars Lagström, the head of XC90, S90 and V90 development, when he was in Australia for the launch of the XC90 in August.
“Of course Polestar, now that we own the brand we can decide where we would like to use it,” Lagström said in an interview with TMR.
We know that Tesla has achieved achieved tremendous effect from their powertrain, how you utilise the power in the batteries to the engine can make you easily gain 25% more horsepower.”
“So electrification is a nice, tuneable thing, that we’ll see into the future.”
By using electrification as the key to Polestar’s performance, Volvo also helps avoid driving a divide between the green-focused company and its high-performance division.
But while the S90 sedan and yet to be revealed V90 wagon will be trins beneath the skin, differing only from the B-pillar rearwards, there’s still a possibility that only one bodystyle will be treated to the Polestar treatment.
Thanks to Europe’s strong demand for wagons, and Volvo’s historically strong success with its wagons there’s every chance that a V90 Polestar may win out over its sedan equivalent. On the other hand, the demand for sedans in key markets like China and the United States could be enough to tip the balance in the four-door’s favour.