VOLVO is expected to launch a high-performance, German-baiting version of its new S90 flagship sedan, featuring Polestar badging and a hybrid drivetrain.
The Polestar version will rival the likes of the Mercedes-AMG E63 and BMW M5, and spearhead Volvo’s attempt to break Germany’s stranglehold on the executive express market.
Standard versions of Volvo’s new S90 sedan and V90 wagon were shown at the Detroit motor show, and our artist’s impression hints at how the future Polestar sedan could look.
A Polestar version of the V90 wagon is also mooted, to take the fight to Audi’s RS6 Avant.
Volvo boss Hakan Samuelsson is the driving force behind the performance flagships and has revealed a desire to expand the Polestar treatment across more models within the Volvo family.
Polestar is now a subsidiary of Volvo, which bought the Swedish tuning company last year.
The S90 is the second all-new model built on Volvo’s Scalable Platform Architecture (SPA) and follows the XC90 SUV that proved the platform’s promise by making it through to the second round of Wheels COTY 2016 testing.
The same platform will also spawn the next-generation S60 and V60 due in 2017, both of which will also receive the Polestar treatment.
Volvo’s pursuit of electrically charged performance means propulsion for the Polestar S90 will likely come from a wicked-up version of the brand’s T8 Twin Engine hybrid drivetrain.
Already confirmed to power top-spec T8 AWD versions of the standard S90, the T8 Twin Engine combines a 235kW/400Nm twincharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol engine with a 65kW/240Nm electric motor. It’s currently the most powerful engine Volvo makes and is capable of pushing the 2296kg XC90 to 100km/h in 5.6sec.
This suggests the all-wheel-drive S90 Polestar should hit 100km/h in less than five seconds, given its lesser kerb weight and more powerful drivetrain. The AMG E63 S and BMW M5, both of which are exclusively rear-drive in Australia, do the sprint in in 4.2sec.
Standard versions of the S90 will be powered by the T8 drivetrain in its current tune, in addition to the same 2.0-litre diesel and petrol four-cylinder engines used in the XC90 D5 and T6. An entry-level, front-wheel-drive D4 variant will also be offered.
The XC90’s influence is also obvious in the large tablet-style central screen, but long slabs of natural wood and higher-quality materials give the S90 a greater sense of plushness.
The S90 is packed with cuttingedge safety technology, as you’d expect from Volvo, including a world-first ‘large animal detection’ function that is linked to the automatic emergency braking system. Capable of recognising animals such as cattle and kangaroos, the system warns the driver and will even brake the car to avoid a collision.
There’s also a semi-autonomous Pilot Assist active cruise control system that provides subtle steering inputs to keep you in your lane at speeds up to 130km/h.
Externally, the S90 moves away from the chunky, heavy-handed styling of recent large Volvo sedans like the slow-selling S80. It ushers in a more elegant look with short overhangs and ‘Thor’s hammer’ headlights, which will filter through to all modern Volvos.
Expect the regular S90 to hit Aussie roads in September.