Performance arm plans 350bhp four-pot engine, hybrids and even a hot XC90
2 November 2015

Polestar, Volvo’s high-performance sub-brand, is preparing to launch a highly tuned version of the company’s new four-cylinder petrol engine.

The new powerplant will have at least 350bhp and will replace the turbocharged straight six currently used in the S60 and V60 Polestar, according to Niels Möller, Polestar’s chief operating officer.

The brand is also likely to launch a high-performance hybrid and is considering a hot version of Volvo’s highly successful XC90.

The 2.0-litre Drive-E unit will get both a supercharger and a turbocharger. Möller said it will be “as strong or even stronger” than the current six-cylinder unit and be hooked up to an eight-speed automatic gearbox.

“With the new engine, weight will be reduced and power will increase, but there will be nearly half the CO2 emissions,” Möller said. “We believe in the future performance cars must cope with environmental developments.”

Since Polestar was bought by Volvo last July, Möller said his company has had “full access to Volvo technology and, naturally, that means access to a lot of hybrid technology. There will be performance hybrids, which use electrification to enhance performance, rather than worrying about range”.

Mölller added: “If I don’t see a business case on each and every model, I will not do it. Right now, we are taking the full range of Volvo’s portfolio and thinking about how we could position a Polestar version.”

Möller stopped short of confirming a full-blooded Polestar version of the XC90 but did reveal that it’s one of the models under discussion.

“Everything is possible,” he said. “SUVs are hip. People really like them as urban cruisers, so why not have an XC car that can go on the track as well?”

A notable development for the Polestar brand is Volvo’s return to motorsport. Two S60 Polestar TC1 race cars will take to the grid during the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship season.Möller said this is primarily to increase global awareness of the Polestar brand as part of the aim to double sales figures to 1500 units in 2016.

Comment - How far must Polestar go to match German rivals?

The task of muscling in on a high-performance market dominated by German behemoths should not be underestimated, but Polestar is clearly ambitious.

It’s targeting a market that, it says, has grown by 41% since 2009, during which time the standard road car segment has increased by just 9%. Aiming to double its sales to 1500 units next year sounds like a good start, but that figure still languishes some way behind the 15,000 RS and R8 models that Audi shifted during 2014 alone.

There’s a huge gap between the manufacturers in terms of sales, then, but Polestar is still in its infancy. In truth, it’s unlikely to rival the total sales of its German stablemates, but if it can build on the promise of its S60 and V60 models and deliver on its interesting projects in the pipeline, it could prove a hit with those after an off-piste alternative to the ubiquitous Germans.

Our complete road test team have got their mitts on the Volvo XC90 - see what they made of it here

Get the latest car news, reviews and galleries from Autocar direct to your inbox every week. Enter your email address below:

Our Verdict

Volvo XC90
The new Volvo XC90 costs from £45,750

It has big boots to fill and talented rivals to face. Is it up to the task?

Join the debate


2 November 2015

A 4 cylinder 2.0 engine kicking out 350hp to propel a 4 wheel drive 7 seater 2000 kg car. And people used to MOAN about how unrealiable the 3 cylinder 1.0 turbo engine in the fiesta will be. Is this really the Volvo way?


Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 November 2015

I know it's only under discussion but they need to turn their thoughts to more pressing matters and start thinking about the volume sellers, the XC90 and S90 are taking up to much thought time, where's an XC40 ?


Hydrogen cars just went POP

2 November 2015

'SUVs are hip. People really like them as an urban cruiser.' Much of what is wrong with contemporary car culture encapsulated in two short sentences.

2 November 2015

'SUVs are hip. People really like them as an urban cruiser.' Much of what is wrong with contemporary car culture encapsulated in two short sentences.

2 November 2015

I can't help thinking they would be better off creating an eco sub brand like prius rather than this... it would be a better high tech halo for the Volvo. A super efficient lightweight hybrid version of each car? Carbon fibre roof, bonnet and seats. Lightweight wheels and low rolling resistance tyres. Something that can be driven with comfort in mind.

2 November 2015

The CO2 emissions being half compared to a 6cyl is only true in the lab tests. It's possible that a 4cyl working much harder all over the range will produce more CO2. And it's not Volvo's worry about CO2 emissions that has forced them to only have one engine in their lineup but the lack of resources to develop multiple engines like the Germans. And how much lighter is a 4cyl engine with turbo AND supercharging compared to a 6cyl? So far XC90 with it's 4cyl engine has shown to have lower mpg than the new Q7 with a 6cyl engine, as it has to work at higher rpm than the Audi. And slower.


Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    Can Seat’s first SUV impress, even with the heavy burden of expectation?
  • Car review
    21 October 2016
    The last hurrah for the current Aston Martin Vantage adds the track-ready GT8 to the range
  • Audi S5 Sportback
    First Drive
    20 October 2016
    New S5 Sportback is more spacious, better to drive and offers a calmer ride than before, but rivals offer greater involvement
  • Renault Clio RS 220 Trophy
    First Drive
    19 October 2016
    Mildly revised hot hatch is enjoyable on UK roads but continues to play second fiddle to the Ford Fiesta ST
  • 2016 Smart fortwo Brabus cabrio xclusive
    First Drive
    18 October 2016
    Mechanical upgrades make the Smart Fortwo Brabus cabrio better to drive, but it’s too pricey to recommend