Volvo’s wagon softroader gets a performance bump

Volvo has been making Cross Country style wagons for nearly two decades now, with the latest iteration dropping earlier this year in the form of a beefed-up V90. The formula is designed to offer an alternative to the ever-popular crossover body style, matching a high-rider stance, rugged body panels, AWD handling and grip, and plenty of luxury and tech with a spacious cabin. Now, Volvo has handed the keys over to Polestar, the Swedish brand’s dedicated performance division and racing team. Polestar has already had a crack at upgrading the new V90, blessing the five-door with a sharper throttle, quicker shifts, and a more potent engine. Rather than transforming the model into a full-blown sports car, Polestar says it “optimized” what was already there, and now, it’s doing the same thing to the V90 Cross Country softroader.

The result appears to be a nice blend of performance chops and rugged capability, all in a comfortable, wagon-fashion package. Like the optimized V90 that came before, the V90 Cross Country by Polestar sees upgrades to its throttle response, shift times, and engine output, adding just a little extra where it counts if you happen to have that performance mindset.

“Our product provides performance-oriented customers with a new level of driving pleasure,” says Niels Moller, Chief Operating Officer at Polestar. Most recently, we’ve seen Polestar’d variants of the S90 sedan and XC90, not to mention the non-cross-country V90, and this new tuned-up crossover killer looks to expand the line even further.

Intrigued? Read on for the details.

Continue reading to learn more about the Volvo V90 Cross Country By Polestar.

What makes the Volvo V90 Cross Country By Polestar special

While the words “Volvo wagon” and “performance tuning” might seem like an odd pairing, the Swedish brand’s Polestar division is actually well versed in the art and science of making fast cars. In July of 2015, Volvo announced it was purchasing Polestar outright, and now, it’s looking like enthusiasts will benefit because of it.

In fact, the V90 Cross Country is slated to be just one of several upcoming Polestar-tuned offerings for the future, with forthcoming optimized models including the XC90 D4. It’s all part of Volvo’s expansion of its new SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) underpinnings.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country By Polestar High Resolution Exterior
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On to the specifics of the car at hand. Volvo says customers will have a chance to grab an optimized V90 Cross Country with one of three engine packages and trim levels – the T6, a supercharged and turbocharged (twincharged) 2.0-liter four-cylinder gas burner producing 320 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque, the D5, a twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel producing 235 horsepower and 354 pound-feet of torque, and the D4, another twin-turbo 2.0-liter four-cylinder diesel producing 190 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. Volvo also hints at the possibility of adding new engine options to the V90 Cross Country by Polestar lineup in the future, which means we might get an upgraded T5 (base model single-turbo gas engine), or, more enticingly, an upgraded T8 (top-spec hybrid with over 400 horsepower and 472 pound-feet of torque).

Fingers crossed for a future Polestar’d T8 model.

For now, the V90 Cross Country by Polestar gets boosted engine output for a more “dynamic” experience behind the wheel. Volvo says it focused on padding the engine’s mid-range power band in order to more effectively enhance what’s possible in everyday driving situations (overtaking, highway mergers, etc.).

Specifics on how much extra power and torque were added are still forthcoming, but some outlets are reporting gains of 14 horsepower and 25 pound-feet of torque for the T6

Specifics on how much extra power and torque were added are still forthcoming, but some outlets are reporting gains of 14 horsepower and 25 pound-feet of torque for the T6 (up to 334 horsepower and 320 pound-feet), 5 horsepower and 15 pound-feet for the D5 (up to 240 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque), and 10 horsepower and 25 pound-feet for the D4 (up to 200 horsepower and 320 pound-feet of torque).

Supporting the extra muscle is refreshed gearbox tuning for the eight-speed automatic found across the range, making for quicker shifts and complementing the extra power. It’s uncertain whether or not Volvo will also update the standard six-speed manual.

“Our focus is as always on creating usable performance, just as when we develop our racing cars to win championships,” says Thed Bjork, driver in the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship, in the attached press release. As a reference, Bjork’s day job is behind the wheel of the Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car (check it out here). “This is made possible by treating the entire powertrain,” he continues, “including engine, gearbox, throttle response and more, as one unit when developing our optimisations.”

For the moment, there’s no word on pricing for this thing either, but Cars U.K. speculates Volvo will charge an extra 835 pounds ($1,033 at current exchange rates, 12/20/2016) for the extra performance, just like the Polestar’d S90, V90, and XC90.

In the U.S., we’re expecting you’ll have to pay an extra $1,500 or so on top of the V90 Cross Country’s base MSRP of $55,300.

While we would have preferred a no-holds-barred, 600-horsepower, full-fledged Polestar variant, a Polestar “Optimized” version ain’t too bad either. If I had one of these things, I’d throw some dirt tires on it and take it to my local rally cross event for some of that dirty, dirty grassroots fun.

Still, I can’t help but think what this thing would look like with a Polestar-tuned hybrid T8 under the hood. Volvo – get on that (what’s the Swedish word for “please”?).

Volvo V90 Cross Country

2018 Volvo V90 Cross Country
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Read the full review here.

Press Release

Photo Credit: Volvo

The latest generation Polestar Performance Optimisation is now available for the new Volvo V90 Cross Country, taking the performance and drivability further in five key areas of the rugged and refined estate.

”To include the V90 Cross Country, a true adventure crossover, in our optimisation programme is a vital part of our operation to further expand on Volvo Cars’ new SPA vehicle architecture. Our product provides performance-oriented customers with a new level of driving pleasure,” said Niels Möller, Chief Operating Officer of Polestar.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country By Polestar High Resolution Exterior
- image 697443

The optimisation, available for the V90 Cross Country T6, D5 and D4 models* to begin with, does not only increase engine performance but affects a total of five areas for a more dynamic driving experience.

The main focus for the optimisation is on the mid-range, the area most often used in everyday driving. Connected to this is a new calibration of the gearbox, including faster shifts, in order to support the increased performance, making for a more engaging driving experience.

2017 Volvo V90 Cross Country By Polestar High Resolution Exterior
- image 697442

”Our focus is as always on creating usable performance, just as when we develop our racing cars to win championships. This is made possible by treating the entire powertrain, including engine, gearbox, throttle response and more, as one unit when developing our optimisations,” said Thed Björk, who drives a Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 with Drive-E technology in the 2016 FIA World Touring Car Championship.

Alongside the release for the V90 Cross Country, further engine options have been made available* for the Polestar Optimisation such as the Volvo XC90 D4.

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