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Plug-in power: Volvo's Polestar division will tune your XC90 T8 hybrid for extra oomph

Volvo's performance division gives the brand's largest plug-in hybrid better responsiveness and more power.

You're not going to win a drag race against a BMW M3 or anything, but a little more power never hurts.


Unless you're sliding behind the wheel of a LaFerrari or a Porsche 918 Spyder, you're probably not hopping into hybrids and immediately thinking about power or performance. But some people want the best of both worlds, and if you have a Volvo XC90 T8 plug-in hybrid, you can satiate your simultaneous desires to stay green and achieve speed.

Polestar, Volvo's in-house performance division, is behind what the company calls its Polestar Performance Optimization. Its key feature is a software upgrade, which bumps net output to 421 horsepower and about 502 pound-feet of torque. That's a step up from the stock XC90 T8's 400 hp and 472 pound-feet. These changes are only being made to the gas engine -- the car's electrical components are all the same.

Polestar has improved the drivetrain with adjustments to throttle response and transmission performance. The shifts are sped up, and its gear-hold function will keep the car in the same gear under high lateral-g load. So you'll be able to turn corners without worrying about random upshifts upsetting your car.

While Volvo didn't divulge a price, the upgrade will be available in the US this October. Polestar upgrades are available on nearly every vehicle in Volvo's lineup, covering a wide variety of drivetrains from inline-four engines all the way up to the T8 plug-in hybrid.

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