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Volvo XC90 gets mild Polestar upgrades, and more could be on the way

Volvo XC90
Volvo’s recently-purchased Polestar performance division is going to work on the XC90 SUV, but the upgrades will remain mild for now. While Volvo won’t release a full-blown XC90 Polestar just yet, this bodes well for the brand’s performance future.

The upgrades will likely be similar to the Polestar tweaks already made available for other models that use the Drive-E series of efficiency-focused engines. That means software tweaks affecting things like throttle response and shift speeds, rather than hardware upgrades. This may not produce any significant performance changes on paper, but it will give the XC90 a sportier feel.

The Polestar treatment will only be offered on the XC90 T6 and D5 models initially. The T6 will be sold in the U.S., but Volvo did not say specifically whether it would offer accompanying Polestar upgrades here as well. Also not mentioned was the XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid, although Volvo has said that it plans to offer a Polestar-tuned plug-in hybrid at some point.

Polestar started out as an independent company selling Volvo performance parts and racing the company’s cars. It grew more closely aligned with Gothenburg through factory-backed racing efforts, and the recent S60 and V60 Polestar factory hot rods. Volvo purchased Polestar outright earlier this year, and is expected to turn the brand into a Swedish rival for the likes of BMW M and Mercedes-Benz AMG.

That means a more comprehensively-upgraded performance version of the XC90 is still a possibility. Polestar’s chief operating officer, Niels Möller, recently said that Polestar is looking at every model in Volvo’s lineup as a potential project, and that an XC90 Polestar could help cash in on the current popularity of SUVs. Between the BMW X5 and X6 M, Mercedes-Benz GLE63 AMG, and Land Rover Range Rover Sport SVR, there’s certainly no shortage of hot-rodded luxury SUVs right now.

Another model would also help Volvo reach its sales goals for Polestar. While the idea of a performance Volvo is still somewhat niche, the company believes it can grow sales from 750 units this year (with just 265 imported to the U.S.) to about 1,500 per year in the medium term.

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Stephen Edelstein
Stephen is a freelance automotive journalist covering all things cars. He likes anything with four wheels, from classic cars…
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