This letter reports lifetime measurements of excited states in the odd-N nucleus W-163 using the recoil-distance Doppler shift method to probe the core polarising effect of the i(13/2) neutron orbital on the underlying soft triaxial even-even core. The ratio B(E2:21/2(+) -> 17/2(+))/B(E2:17/2(+) -> 13/2(+)) is consistent with the predictions of the collective rotational model. The deduced B(E2) values provide insights into the validity of collective model predictions for heavy transitional nuclei and a geometric origin for the anomalous B(E2) ratios observed in nearby even-even nuclei is proposed. (C) 2019 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V.