Volvo’s relaunched Polestar division is considering at least one, and possibly two, bespoke performance models with their own bodystyles.
One of these vehicles is understood to be a coupé featuring a high carbonfibre content and a powertrain with around 600bhp. The nature of the second model is unknown.
Volvo relaunched Polestar as a standalone brand last week and confirmed none of its models will wear the Volvo badge. The coupé is tipped to be revealed at the Frankfurt motor show in September.
Suggesting that Polestar’s cars will be heavily based on existing Volvo models, rather than pure standalone vehicles, a Volvo statement said: “Polestar will enjoy specific technological and engineering synergies with Volvo Cars and benefit from significant economies of scale as a result of its connection to Volvo. These synergies will allow it to design, develop and build world-beating electrified highperformance cars.”
However, the investment by Volvo and parent company Geely in two flexible platform architectures for all of its large and small cars does raise the possibility of Polestar developing models that are heavily bespoke. The new S60 saloon, due next year, is one candidate for morphing into a Polestar-only coupé.
Engineering more power will be quite a task, but developing a more bespoke Polestar model is an even bigger commitment and comes at a time when Volvo’s development programme is flat-out.
But there’s no question that an individual Polestar model would generate far more impact than tuned mainstream models, impressive though some of these have already been, and it would make better use of the Polestar operation.
More ambitious plans for Polestar have been under development since Volvo bought the racing and performance tuning brand outright in mid-2015.
Its bespoke models would be powered by hybrid drivetrains. Volvo and Polestar insiders have already confirmed that the brand intends to specialise in high-performance petrol-electric drivetrains.
Hybrid drivetrains will also be used for the high-performance versions of Volvo’s mainstream range, partly to underline the marque’s commitment to plug-in hybrid technology and partly to further distinguish its offerings from those of Mercedes-AMG, BMW’s M division and Audi’s RS brand.
To achieve the 600bhp target, Polestar will need to extract a lot more from the plug-in hybrid drivetrain currently fitted to the XC90 T8, whose supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-litre petrol produces 324bhp and 295lb ft alongside the 81bhp and 177lb ft of an electric motor.
There’s scope for producing a more powerful electric motor, if at the potential expense of range. Polestar insiders have already suggested that some range might be traded for performance.
In a further move that underlines just how keen the company is to differentiate itself from rivals such as BMW M, Audi Sport and Mercedes-AMG, Thomas Ingenlath, formerly Volvo design chief, will become Polestar’s boss. Ingenlath will be joined at Polestar by new chief operating officer Jonathan Goodman, who switches from being Volvo’s communications chief.