In a surprise development, Volvo performance division Polestar is releasing software that gives selected all-wheel drive (AWD) Volvo cars and SUVs a more rear-driven feel – to improve both pull-away traction and, more importantly, driver satisfaction when cornering.
The software update increases both how much torque is distributed to the rear wheels, and how often drive is biased rearwards. It is engaged whenever the car’s Dynamic driving mode is selected, or when Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is disengaged.
Called the Polestar AWD optimisation, it launches this month for petrol and diesel versions of the Volvo V90 and S90, the S60, V60 and XC60, and XC40 small SUV.
“We are always fine-tuning the driving experience of Volvo cars,” said the firm’s senior vice president of R&D Henrik Green, “and this upgrade makes the all-wheel drive both smoother and more dynamic.”
Drivers, he said, will enjoy better steering feel and turn-in to corners, enhanced control and feedback, and better off-the-line traction that could help improve acceleration times.
Volvo says the upgrade is an added extra feature to the Polestar optimisation kit – which already sharpens the accelerator pedal and makes it respond more quickly when pressed, speeds up gearchanges, holds onto gears in corners… and, of course, boosts overall engine output.
The effect is expected to be particularly noticeable in Volvo’s ‘Twin Engine’ plug-in hybrid models, which use a fast-reacting electric motor on the rear axle. Polestar is described as Volvo’s electric performance brand and is in the process of launching its first electrified car, the Polestar 1, in a limited run of just 500 cars.
How can you tell if a Volvo has received the Polestar AWD optimisation? Look for the performance division’s trademark blue badge on the bootlid.