Volvo’s all new XC90 gets sporty R-Design upgrade

Even after debuting its most important vehicle of the decade, the XC90, Volvo isn’t sitting still. Instead, the Swedish automaker is pulling out all the stops. Today Volvo announced that it would be releasing a sporty R-Design version of its new SUV.

Volvo’s announcement of the R-Design comes with few details, but it is clearly an assertive take on the XC90. Changes will include a new aggressive grille, front spoiler, massive 20- or 22-inch rims and integrated dual tailpipes. When added together, the appearance changes place the XC90 firmly inline, and perhaps a bit ahead, of the competing Audi and Mercedes sports SUVs.

The interior also gets a work over, with the addition of sports seats and R-Design branded touches like the gearshift knob, pedals and steering wheel.

The R-Design package will be available with multiple powertrains, up to and including the 400 horsepower twin-engine T8 plug-in hybrid. If the XC90 R-Design follows a similar path to previous R-Design Volvos it may also get an up-rated suspension and bigger brakes. If so Volvo is keeping it close to the vest for now.

This news comes on the heels of the overwhelming success of Volvo’s First Edition XC90, which sold out in less than 48 hours. The edition of 1,927 cars, chosen to commemorate Volvo’s 1927 founding, showed off the Luxury side of the equation.

Volvo XC90 R-Design 6

Related: Volvo debuts the all-new XC90.

Together these two special editions will inform how Volvo packages its products going forward. Alain Visser Volvo’s head of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service explains: “in principle, we have replaced the previous top level with the Inscription and R-Design versions. Both of them feature an elevated content, carefully chosen to emphasize each of their distinctive individual personalities.”

This means that we can expect both luxury and sporty versions of the many new Volvos to be released in the next four years.

What remains unclear is if there will be a Polestar performance edition that changes not just details but the entire performance package. When Digital Trends attended the launch of the XC90 in Stockholm, the Volvo executives we spoke with refused to speculate on whether this was a possibility. Yet, the introduction of the R-Design and the sales success of the S60 Polestar are both indicators that this remains a possibility.

Regardless, the introduction of the XC90 R-Design only improves the standing of the new car as one of the most exciting and visually groundbreaking new cars of the year.