More Than Just Safety: Can Volvo Branch Into Performance?

2016 Volvo XC-90

2016 Volvo XC90

When my 2008 Audi Q7 needed to go in for repairs, the shop was nice enough to loan me a car for a couple of days. At first glance I thought it was nice, but once I sat behind the wheel, I knew I’d miss the comfort and luxury of my car.

The loaner 2004 Volvo S40 drove like a 1984 Honda Accord and put a bad taste in my mouth for all things Volvo.

Maybe it’ll take a Polestar to make things better.

Performance and Volvo are two words that traditionally don’t go well together, but that may be about to change. The Volvo/Polestar racing team formed in 1996, and today Polestar Performance produces limited-edition models such as the S60 Polestar.

If you think Polestar is just another poor attempt at performance to rival the BMW M cars, rest assured it is the real deal. This was proven when an S60 Polestar concept matched the lap time of an Audi R8 around the Leguna Seca racetrack.

Now some of that excitement is coming to a Volvo SUV that’s long been a staple of suburban soccer moms: the XC90.

CarBuzz says,

As a result of building these previous Polestar models, Volvo has realized there is a much bigger demand for performance machines from Sweden than previously supposed, and the new XC90 is only part of an expanding Volvo-Polestar lineup.

The natural question is: Who needs a performance SUV? These cars are typically used only for hauling kids, gear, small boats, and Costco toilet paper.

Performance sells, though, and for a brand that has struggled to develop a reputation that extends beyond safety, a fire-breathing SUV might do the trick.

Not that Volvo is going to place all of its chips on the performance bet. The company is also working to implement a fleet of ultra-safe self-driving XC90s.

The Detroit News says,

The program is unique in that it hands the keys to customers rather than company engineers. The test subjects will be able to operate the cars autonomously on select roads around Volvo’s hometown of Gothenburg.

There’s no word on whether Volvo will combine technologies and offer a Polestar self-driving vehicle, but I’d say the odds are not good.

Which Volvo is more up your alley: the self-driving XC90 or the Polestar version?

-tgriffith

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