The Download on the 2017 Volvo S90 and Volvo’s Plans for the Future

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The all-new 2017 Volvo S90 was revealed earlier this week at the Volvo Cars headquarters in Gothenburg, Sweden. While we were able to bring you a First Look on the S80 replacement, Volvo was a bit lighter on details than we would have liked. To round it out, I spent an afternoon and evening chatting with Volvo U.S. president Lex Kerssemakers, senior vice president of research and development Dr. Peter Mertens, and senior vice president of design Thomas Ingelnlath, who chatted with me about the S90 and Volvo’s plans for the future. One big question we had for Volvo upon the announcement of the S90 was regarding powertrains: specifically, how much power each version will make and whether or not all-wheel drive will be available across the board. Turns out our early guesses were pretty accurate – the base S90 T5’s 2.0-liter turbocharged I-4 will make “around 250 hp” according to Kerssemakers, which is about what the turbo-four is good for in the smaller S60 T5 Drive-E. The S90 T6 and S90 T8 will carryover unchanged from the related XC90, meaning T6 buyers can expect the supercharged and turbocharged 2.0-liter I-4 to make 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque, while the hybrid T8 will make 400 hp and 472 lb-ft of torque and offer about 30 miles of EV range. All S90s are available in front- and all-wheel drive, with the exception of the S90 T8 which is all-wheel-drive only. An eight-speed automatic is standard across the board. The T6 will likely be the volume engine. When the first 2017 Volvo S90 arrives in the U.S. in June or July, it’ll be priced slightly higher than the S80 it replaces, but lower than the XC90, which serves as a flagship for the company. Volvo is launching the S90 in T6 and T8 forms with the mid-level Momentum, and loaded Inscription trims. The S90 Kinetic base model will join the lineup along with the T5 engine in the second year of production. For the first model year, all U.S.-spec S90s will have a rear air suspension instead of the standard transverse rear leaf spring. As production of the S90 gets up to speed, Volvo will offer air suspension as an option in the U.S. An updated version of Volvo’s Pilot Assist semi-autonomous tech will be standard on S90s here in the ‘States. Unlike the older version of Pilot Assist currently found on the XC90, the newer version can function at speeds up to 80 mph as opposed to 30 mph, and no longer needs a car in front to follow, as it will read lane markers on the road. XC90 buyers who feel like they’re missing out on the semi-self-driving goodness will be able to upgrade their vehicles at a later date. With the United States and China expected to be the S90’s largest market, we can expect a long-wheelbase variant of the new Volvo sedan in the near future. The S90L, as it’ll likely be called, will be the biggest a Volvo will get. The company has no plans to build an S-Class rival. The S90’s main rival, for what it’s worth, is expected to be the Audi A6. While performance will play a major factor in Volvo’s future (after all, as Dr. Mertens pointed out to me, “We didn’t buy Polestar for no reason”), there’s little chance of there ever being an S90 Polestar. Kerssemakers says he won’t exclude it, but he doesn’t feel the S90 is the right car to get the Polestar treatment in the U.S. An upcoming S90 R-Design is likely the sportiest variant of the new Volvo sedan we’ll get.   While it may be disappointing to hear that there likely won’t be an S90 Polestar, there is something to get excited about: wagons. The yet-to-be-officially-revealed Volvo V90 is all but guaranteed for the U.S. The Volvo V90 will be shown in March, likely at the New York International Auto Show. “We have such a fantastic heritage in the United States with estates,” said Kerssemakers. “Americans will start to realize again how practical estates are.” The V90 will also spawn a lifted version, dubbed the V90 Cross Country. While officially there’s no confirmation from Volvo HQ that the V90 will make its way stateside, when asked, Volvo’s U.S. chief Kerssemakers said that he has every intention of bringing the V90 Cross Country to America. It’ll be revealed before the end of 2016. Volvo’s plans for the immediate future go far beyond rounding out the 90 series with the V90 and V90 Cross Country. Next year, Volvo is planning on tackling its 60 series lineup with an all-new S60, V60, and XC60. The 60 series will be the smallest family of vehicles on Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA), and it’ll be powered by Volvo’s now-familiar 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine family, as well as a new 1.6-liter turbocharged three-cylinder engine family, which will include a plug-in hybrid variant. The new turbocharged I-3 will also make its way under the hood of the S90, though we may not get that powertrain in the United States. While the next-generation S60 will get Volvo’s new three-cylinder engine, it won’t be the first Volvo to get it. That honor goes to smaller models based on the new Compact Modular Architecture (CMA), like the next-generation V40. While initially CMA-based vehicles were going to stay out of our market, Dr. Mertens said that we will “absolutely” see CMA in the U.S. Another thing we’re certain to see is more Polestar Volvos. Dr. Mertens says that the company is currently working on a triple-charged 2.0-liter engine, which uses an electric supercharger and two turbos to make around 450 hp. It’s safe bet that a version of this engine will be found in the Polestar variant of the next-gen S60. On the opposite end of the spectrum is a Volvo EV. With electrification already built into SPA, Volvo is planning on launching a full-on electric car in 2019. There’s currently some debate in Volvo on whether or not its electric car will be a bespoke model or a variant of an existing model, but Kerssemakers believes the latter makes more sense. At any rate, Dr. Mertens says that Volvo’s 2019 electric car will be done “the Volvo way,” and that it won’t be a copy of “whoever.” As for the third options in Volvo’s triad of vehicle powerplants, diesel, you can thank Volkswagen for destroying any chance of Volvo bringing diesels over to the United States from Europe. While the possibility before VW’s diesel controversy was ever-so-small, VW’s diesel emissions cheating scandal completely sunk all possibilities. Instead, Volvo will double down on plug-in hybrids, aiming to make plug-ins about 10 percent of its sales mix by 2020.