Hybrid SUV gets more power, retains impressive fuel economy

Unveiled for the 2015 model year, the second-generation XC90 is a significant departure from its dated predecessor. Built on the company’s brand-new Scalable Product Architecture platform, the SUV also debuted the brand’s new design language, new interior layout with added luxury features, and the four-cylinder-exclusive engine lineup. Like its forerunner, the second-gen XC90 comes with both gasoline and diesel engines, but also gained a hybrid drivetrain.

Having already received the highly efficient T8 version and the more luxurious Excellence model, the XC90 is set to gain some improvements in the performance department as well. These are scheduled to arrive via Volvo’s performance division, Polestar, but it turns out that the Swedish brand is in no hurry to pump significantly more oomph into the SUV. Instead, Volvo rolled out a Polestar Performance Optimisation Package, which improves performance without impacting fuel economy.

Launched just a week after the introduction of the S90 and V90 optimization, the package is now also available for the XC90 T8 hybrid. Volvo claims that the SUV is as fuel efficient as the standard model, despite the power increase. Like all Polestar Performance Optimisation packages, this one was also developed in collaboration with Polestar Racing driver and four-time Scandinavian Touring Car Championship winner Thed Bjork.

”It is amazing for me as a racing and development driver to be able to work with the same kind of technology and philosophy for the XC90 as with my S60 race car. While an SUV like the XC90 might be far from what we usually work with, the core of the optimisation is the very same thing. It is about creating driving pleasure and usable performance, something I definitely think we have achieved,” said Bjork, who drives a Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package.

  • 2016 Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package
  • Year:
    2016
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What makes the Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package special

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package High Resolution Exterior
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Much like the S90 and V90 with the same package, the XC90 T8 remains unchanged on the outside. The only tiny detail that sets it apart from the regular model is the blue Polestar stripe added to the badge on the tailgate. While the standard model comes with two stripes depicting the trim level and the drivetrain technology, this SUV has an extra blue one with "Polestar" lettering next to the black "Twin-Engine" and silver "Inscription" inserts. That’s not much really, but customers looking for a more powerful model without the flashy appearance will most definitely appreciate the lack of sporty touches. Those in need of a more aggressive appearance will have to wait for the full-fledged Polestar variant to roll out.

There’s no info about any changes inside the cabin, but it’s safe to assume that the package adds nothing to the interior. This shouldn’t be an issue though, as the T8 is well appointed no matter the trim. The cockpit is packed with soft Nappa leather and wood trim, while the crystal gear lever made by famed Swedish glass maker Orrefors will leave even the most pretentious drivers impressed. Arguably more impressive is the fact that Volvo managed to keep the interior incredibly roomy, a difficult challenge for hybrid vehicles, by placing the battery in the tunnel that runs from underneath the dashboard toward the rear of the car. As a result, the battery does not impact the amount of room available inside the cabin and allows the hybrid to come with a third row of seats.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package High Resolution Exterior
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The XC90 T8 gets its juice from a hybrid drivetrain that brings together a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and supercharged, four-cylinder gasoline engine and a 60-kW (80-horsepower) electric motor connected to the rear axle. Its combined output sits at 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque in the standard model and it spins the wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission.

With the Polestar Optimisation package, output increases to 421 horsepower and 502 pound-feet. It might not sound like a lot, but Volvo claims that the power upgrade, along with the improved throttle response and revised shifting enables the XC90 to hit 62 mph from a standing start in only 5.5 secons, down from 5.9 ticks for the regular model. What’s more, the company claims that both fuel consumption and electric range will remain the same at 2.1 liters per 100km and 43 km (26.7 miles), respectively. Given that the Polestar-badged model is nearly a half-second quicker, that’s quite impressive.

Volvo didn’t say a word about pricing for this package, but did mention that it is already available to order. Also, the company says that all changes that come as a part of the package are made with certified emissions, fuel consumption, service intervals and Volvo warranties unchanged. For reference, the stock XC90 T8 starts from $68,100.

Volvo XC90 T8

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 High Resolution Exterior
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After some 12 years on the market with minor changes, the first-generation XC90 was replaced with a brand-new model in 2014. The second-gen SUV brought not only a new design language and a more stylish interior, but it also uses a lighter, more flexible platform and a new family of four-cylinder engines that are highly efficient, yet still plenty powerful. Five drivetrains are available. The diesel lineup includes the D4 and D5 rated at 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet and 225 horses and 346 pound-feet, respectively. Moving over to gasoline units, there’s the T5 with 254 horsepower and 258 pound-feet and the T6 with 316 horses and 295 pound-feet. Finally, the T8 hybrid, which pairs a 2.0-liter, turbocharged and supercharged four-banger and an 80-horsepower electric motor connected to the rear axle, is good for 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque.

Read our full review on the Volvo XC90 T8 here.

Press Release

The new generation Polestar Performance Optimisation has just been released for the Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine, making the world’s most powerful and cleanest SUV even faster and more inspiring to drive.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package High Resolution Exterior
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The Polestar optimisation increases the performance to 421 hp and 680 Nm* and 0-100 km/h in 5.5 seconds, all this with unchanged, class-leading consumption of 2.1 l/100 km and 43 km of pure electric range.

The new generation Polestar optimisation does not only optimise the engine performance, but rather the entire drivetrain in five key areas. By improving throttle response, gearshift hold, speed and precision, as well as overall engine performance, the XC90 T8 reaches a new level of driving pleasure.

”Just a week after the introduction of the S90 and V90 optimisation, we move forward by launching our optimisation for the exciting and technically advanced XC90 T8 Twin Engine. This gives customers who want a new level of driving pleasure with their XC90 an easily accessible and attractive performance increase,” said Niels Möller, Chief Operating Officer of Polestar.

One of the main features of the new optimisation is the gear hold function that holds the selected gear during cornering at high lateral g-forces. This prevents unwanted gearshifts mid-corner that can unsettle the balance of the car, providing the driver with improved response and control during active driving.

Reigning four-time Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) champion and Polestar Cyan Racing driver Thed Björk has been part of the optimisation development.

”It is amazing for me as a racing and development driver to be able to work with the same kind of technology and philosophy for the XC90 as with my S60 race car. While an SUV like the XC90 might be far from what we usually work with, the core of the optimisation is the very same thing. It is about creating driving pleasure and usable performance, something I definitely think we have achieved,” said Thed Björk, who drives a Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 with Drive-E technology in the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship.

2016 Volvo XC90 T8 With Polestar Performance Optimisation Package High Resolution Exterior
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The Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine is available for the new generation Polestar Performance Optimisation from today**.

All changes as part of the Polestar Performance Optimisation are made with certified emissions, fuel consumption, service intervals and Volvo warranties unchanged.

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