Pole Position » Volvo S60/V60 Polestar

06-Aug-2016
Tested

After a surprisingly long hiatus, Volvo is back with a brilliant new V60 wagon and S60 sedan tuned by in-house performance arm Polestar. Powered by a potent turbocharged 6-cylinder motor, rocking a fresh baby blue armour and one of the most awesome OEM wheels on the car scene, they could be the much needed shot of excitement, possibly driving the revival of the brand. Borne out of a collaboration with Polestar (which was purchased by Volvo in last year), both vehicles are true decathletes and an entertaining drive. Do not expect an M3 beater, as the two are in a wholly different league and price bracket. The blonde Swedes are more like amateur athletes with an above average performance that are up against pro runners on steroids. If you favour underdogs like I do, you’re definitely bound to support them in the battle of performance cars.

There's more than the Polestar blue hue to the great looks of the V60 and the S60. The athletic stance comes courtesy of the lowered suspension, sexy 20" wheels and low-profile sticky Michelin rubber, and is boosted by a discrete lip spoiler, rear diffuser, twin exhaust pipes, new grille and a roof wing for the V60. This sporty wagon has the right dose of sportiness, looking sharp and dynamic without having to resort to wings or splitters. Simplicity and clean lines win here, seductive without revealing too much - superb exterior I must say. Same comments apply to the sleek sedan that sports the same enhancements complementing its flowing and dynamic body shape."

Pop the hood and you'll probably be disappointed, expecting to find a tuner car engine bay. Well, the turbines are tucked well beneath the plastic fairings and there's absolutely no visual clue as to the engine's performance. Don't expect to see air intakes, turbos or shiny intercooler piping, this car is an absolute sleeper. The turbocharged 3-litre straight-six engine is brilliant, delivering 350 horsepower and blessed with great torque throughout the rpm range. The Polestar upgrades include a new twin-scroll turbocharger by Borg Warner, a large intercooler, an active performance exhaust system and remapped ECU. The upgraded six-speed auto transmission comes with performance-oriented settings."

The other part of the great Polestar experience comes courtesy of a well-designed chassis and high-performance components installed on the car. For starters, the combination of significantly stiffer lowering springs, Öhlins shock absorbers and stiffer bushings result in great handling, comfortable but with controlled body roll or pitch, precise steering and plenty of grip, partly thanks to the fat and sticky 20" Michelin Pilot Super Sports tyres. Stopping power is also adequately upgraded with the installation of Brembo brakes featuring 6-pot calipers and massive 371mm discs up front."

And, while the bright paint job takes care of the attraction factor, on the inside, the Polestar cars are rather conservative. A few discreet touches of carbon, two-tone sport seats, aluminuim pedals and the paddle shifters are the only visual clues to this special edition. Good materials, practicality and a logical layout is what Volvo thought suitable for its flagship performer - subtle sporty elegance, no bling. But Volvo makes it all up in the extensive standard equipment list, the Polestars are fitted with every option you can think of, including panoramic sunroof, premium audio system, 4-zone climate control and all of the safety features. A six footer sure appreciates the great driving position with plenty of legroom and headroom, with the comfortable seats still offering sufficient lateral support for spirited drives. Comfort prevails over performance and that's what does it for the Polestar owners, bucket seats would have been totally out of place here."

What would an ordinary Joe make out of the Polestar cars? Not understanding diffusers, carbon-fibre, sport suspension or forced induction, one would simply enjoy the exhilarating drive, great looks, comfort and safety. The magic of these performance sedans and wagons is their everyday usability, combined with their athletic ability, plenty of torque on tap, ready to go. The throttle response, acceleration and exhaust note put smiles on faces, whether you're a true petrolhead or just a car owner. On the other hand, the level and quality of equipment, the spaciousness, comfort and safety do it for those not so obsessed with horsepower and the sporty bits, but appreciate the image of the sporty variants."

For a performance buff, the sweet spot of the Polestar models is not at the top end of their power range, but exploring the torque wave and enjoying the blisteringly fast engine response when driving at part throttle. This is the true, usable, in-gear power, one that you need to use in traffic, off the lights, up the bridge or for a brief sprint, delivered in full and without hesitation. Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to be enjoyed at full throttle, these cars are great when pushed to their limits, but they truly excel in their spirited daily driving duty. These are the everyday champions, winning the race and winning your heart with their eagerness to accelerate, corner, brake. And, with the recent price drops, the Polestar twins are even more accessible, there's never been a better time to own one. Get yours now!"

Engine: 3.0L inline-6 turbo
Layout: Front engine/AWD
Power: 350hp @ 5250rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 3000-4750rpm
Transmission: 6-speed automatic"