Swedish firm's boss suggests 'sophisticated performance' and says focus will be on electrification; UK keen on a fast wagon V90
2 December 2015

Volvo will launch high-performance versions of its new S90 saloon and forthcoming V90 estate, carrying Polestar badging and featuring hybrid powertrains, the company’s boss has revealed.

The new Volvo S90 was revealed today, with the standard Volvo V90 estates set to be revealed early next year. The Swedish brand’s new flagship saloon - which sits on the same Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) as the XC90 SUV - is designed to take on the BMW 5 Series, Mercedes E-Class and Audi A6, as well as the Jaguar XF. 

Read our review of the Volvo V90 D5

All of those executive saloon rivals have hot versions, though - and the German brands in particular sell a wide range of add ons and suspension and body kits branded with their respective performance divisions. Volvo now owns its Polestar division, which grew from its involvement in the Swedish Touring Car Championship, and is seeking to expand its remit. 

Volvo must follow its rivals, according to the company’s boss Håkan Samuelsson. “You could have a high-performance variant [of the S90] without leaving the brand,” he said. “You could still have a nice car with smart design and functionality, but what’s wrong with a little performance?

“Right now we have the S60 and V60 as Polestar variants, and we believe in the [Polestar] brand - that’s why we bought it. So now we’re looking at using it more on performance cars within the family.”

Samuelsson also suggested that Polestar’s future direction would include hybrid models: “How we bring the brand to market is open, but one way we are definitely looking at is for Polestar to focus on electrification.”

That comment was supported by Volvo’s R&D chief Peter Mertens, who said, “Polestar will still be sophisticated performance; it’s not just a case of doing a ‘boy racer’ by dropping a big engine in there. Hybrid power is the direction that Polestar will go in. In a way, Tesla has legitimised electric performance, although Polestar will be more sophisticated again. We want to be able to offer high performance without regrets.”

The UK market is likely to favour a V90 Polestar mega-wagon over the fast saloon variant. Indeed, the V60 Polestar is sold in the UK but the S60 is not.

“If you look at what Audi does with its fast wagons then it is an interesting proposition,” said Volvo UK managing director Nick Connor. “I’d say a wagon is more likely for us than a Polestar version of the S90, because we have the heritage there from our days with the 850 in the British Touring Car Championship, but we know we must get our core models right before we go out and play.”

Connor also highlighted the current conflict between Volvo’s current environmental-led image and its Polestar division. However, he said the growing interest in hybrid vehicles, and Volvo’s commitment to sell a plug-in hybrid version of every car it launches, could help to tie the two sides together.

“Polestar optimising the T8 hybrid powertrain would be very interesting,” he said. “That would present a very interesting technical solution, with the ultimate power being combined with an environmental powertrain.

“Look at what Tesla have done with things like Ludicrous mode. The Tesla Model S isn’t a performance car, but by adding in elements of performance they have got people talking about it as if it is.”

Our Verdict

Volvo S90

Sweden guns for Germany’s big-hitters with a new full-sized exec

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Comments
7

2 December 2015

About time got back into the fast wagon game, especially if it looks anything like the artists impression. Maybe it's just me but I find most estates tend to look better than the estate counterpart.

3 December 2015

I think I know what you mean and I think I agree! I find that the back ends of most saloons just peter out, somehow, whereas an estate has more assertiveness.

A saloon seems to occupy the uneasy no-man's land between the doe-eyed frivolity of the coupe and the granite-jawed dependability of the estate.

3 December 2015

Bring it on, a fast plugin hybrid wagon would be the answer to a question nobody asked. Good on them for trying. I think Volvo and Polestar are small enough to pull this off successfully and make a successor to the mad 850R.

3 December 2015

Well, what a fantastic looking car! Wow! Would be very tempted with one of these over a German equivalent! Impressed Volvo, well done.

4 December 2015

Great looking Volvo. Best I have seen since 1998. Good job Autocar.

If this comes to pass I will be trading out the fleets VW Touaregs in 2017 for these.

Lets wait and see though.

4 December 2015

Chop 300mm off the front and it will look better.

6 December 2015

I remember the launch of the S60R and V70R, (which happened on the same day my car was in for servicing) and the Volvo dealer in Perth doing his best to sell one to me - he was wanting something like £36k for, and I quote, "as it's being sold in such limited numbers, it'll be an appreciating asset". I never really got his or Volvo's R concept, nor did many other buyers as the car was a flop here in the UK. I only saw ONE V70R after that and a couple of S60R's, all in mint green, which was Volvos launch colour (ie no doubt demonstrators). Wonder how many cars Volvo actually sold here in the UK? Volvo have a serious problem with such motors, and that problem is the name - Volvo. They're trying to sell a very expensive car to a very, very limited audience. No matter how good the car was (which it wasn't), it was always going to depreciate quicker than shares in Ratners. At the end of the day, the car was nothing more than a marketing / publicity stunt - I don't see any difference with this Polestar nonsense. Hands up anyone who's bought a Volvo Polestar? Or anyone who bought a S60R/V70R? I rest my case.

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