Published on October 1st, 2018 | by Subhash Nair


Understanding Volvo Nomenclature

Whether you’re aware of it or not, many car manufacturers have logical naming schemes. Most car enthusiasts know these by heart, but we thought we’d do a little deconstructing for the rest of you.

Before we get into it, it’s worth noting that these logical naming schemes, or ‘nomenclatures’ are usually done by premium car brands. In part 1, we covered Audi’s. This time, we’ll cover Volvo’s nomenclature.

Keep in mind that this is more of a guide to the current nomenclature than a 100% accurate dissection that will stand up against close scrutiny. We’re also going to avoid talking about chassis designations, which will change with every generation of the model.

Let’s begin.

Now, a typical Volvo model is casually referred to in the following way:

“Volvo V90”

But if you search “Volvo V90” on a typical listing site, you will find many, many variants. Let’s take a slightly uncommon variant as an example:

“Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD”

Let’s break that name down:

1) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

In a Volvo, the first one or two letters usually denotes the body style of the car.

S = Sedan
V = Hatchback or Wagon
XC = Crossover or SUV

There were also ‘C’ cars, but these have been discontinued under Geely ownership.

2) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

The second component of a Volvo model name is the ‘Series’, usually denoted with 2 digits. The easiest way to understand what these digits mean broadly speaking is that they indicate size and prestige level. They can be mechanically related, but generally speaking 60 and 90 series use Volvo’s Scalable Product Architecture (SPA) platform while newer 40 series cars will use Volvo’s Compact Modular Architecture (CMA) platform. The V40 is a carry-over model from pre-Geely days, and does not yet use the CMA platform.

Volvo currently uses the following numbers for the following types of vehicles:

40 = V40, XC40
60 = S60, V60, XC60
90 = S90, V90, XC90

3) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

The next part of the name indicates the trim level. In some markets, you can customise exactly what equipment and interior finish you want. In Malaysia, the cars are usually pre-packaged, as the lower volume of sales does not justify too much customizability.

Here are some trim levels you can get on Volvos:

Kinetic: a discontinued ‘entry-level’ spec
Momentum: a mid-level spec that appeals to the general buying public
R-Design: a higher-tier spec with a sporty flavour
Inscription: a higher-tier spec with a luxurious flavour
Cross Country (V models only): a higher-tier spec on wagon models with an outdoorsy flavour

Cross Country models. If wagons had babies with SUVs

Note that there are variants of each trim level, such as ‘Pro’, ‘Plus’, and ‘Volvo Ocean Race’ that give further options on each ‘flavour’

4) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

The final part of the name tells you about the drivetrain. Here we can break it down into 3 parts

4.1) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

Back in the day, these used to mean different things. Now, it’s as simple as this:

D = diesel engine
T = petrol engine

2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 = relative indication of power output

Diesel Engine examples: D2, D3, D4, D5

Petrol and Plug-in Hybrid Electrics: T2, T3, T4, T5, T6, T8

4.2) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

Right after that you get the drivetrain technology. If nothing is indicated here, it probably means it’s a regular internal combustion engine with direct injection, a turbocharger and sometimes supercharger.

But if you see ‘PowerPulse’, it means it has got an electrically controlled compressor. If it has ‘Twin Engine’, it means that it’s a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle with both an internal combustion engine and electric motors.

4.3) Volvo V90 Inscription T8 Twin Engine AWD

This, of course indicates if power goes to all four wheels or just the front wheels. Modern Volvos are built on platforms that are typically front-wheel drive by default or all-wheel drive optionally. Some all wheel drive models split power from the internal combustion engine between the front and rear axles. T8 Twin Engine models use petrol power for the front wheels and electric power for the rear wheels.

4.4) Polestar Performance Optimisation

In some markets, you can have your Volvo with performance tuning by Polestar. How this is indicated is unclear. Let us know if you have a clear idea.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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