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Volvo S90 and V90 get mild performance upgrades, but more could be more on the way

Volvo S90 and V90 with Polestar Performance Optimization
The Volvo S90 sedan and V90 station wagon are brand new, but the Swedish carmaker’s Polestar performance division already has some upgrades planned. They won’t turn the S90 and V90 into full-on hot rods like the current S60 and V60 Polestars, but they’re a step in the right direction.

Known as Polestar Performance Optimization and previously offered on other Volvo models, the package is centered around software tweaks rather than hardware upgrades. Actual performance figures probably won’t change, but Volvo says the upgrades will improve throttle response, shift times, and “overall engine performance.” Volvo also claims tuning was done with input from drivers and engineers of the Polestar Cyan Racing team, which competes in the FIA World Touring Car Championship.

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Polestar Performance Optimization will initially be offered only on the D5 diesel versions of the S90 and V90, which won’t be sold in the U.S. Upgrades for the T6 models, which use a 2.0-liter turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder gasoline engine, will be available in October 2016. The S90 and V90 T6 models will be sold in the U.S., but Volvo hasn’t confirmed whether the Polestar upgrades will be offered here.

These Polestar upgrades may be just an appetizer though. Volvo R&D boss Peter Mertens said recently that the carmaker will offer Polestar versions of the S90 and V90 with as much as 600 horsepower. These models would use a souped up version of the T8 “Twin Engine” plug-in hybrid powertrain, which combines the T6 four-cylinder engine with an electric motor. Volvo hasn’t officially confirmed those models, and it’s unclear whether they would be sold in the U.S.

Volvo has ambitious plans for Polestar, which it purchased last year. It wants to turn the former independent tuning company into the Swedish equivalent of BMW M and Mercedes-AMG, and sell plug-in hybrid performance cars to help Volvo meet its goal of selling 1 million electrified cars by 2025. To do that, Polestar will have to come up with something more substantial than software upgrades, and make that something widely available.

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