Driving Spirit has driven Polestar-badged Volvos before. The C30 T5, V60 T6 and XC60 D5 were all tuned versions of Volvo’s road cars, complete with factory-approved ECU remap. This V60 Polestar is something very, very different.
This is the first ‘properly’ tuned version of a Volvo road car from the outfit who campaigns for Volvo in the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship. This is Polestar taking their first tentative steps into territory occupied by the likes of AMG, BMW’s ‘M’ division and Audi’s RS range.
There’s little in this 3.0-litre, straight-six powered V60 that hasn’t been fettled by Polestar. Engine output is up to 350hp and 369lb/ft thanks in part to ECU changes, a new intercooler and new twin-scroll turbocharger. Breathing is eased with a 2.5-inch exhaust that ends with chromed 3.5-inch pipes. It unleashes a very un-Volvo sound that is wonderfully pleasing to the ears.
The 20-inch wheels are bespoke, the brakes are swapped for Brembo equipment (6-piston calipers grip 336mm ventilated floating discs up front, 302mm vented discs at the back), and Öhlins provide the new dampers. The Polestar’s bright blue springs are also revised and are 80% stiffer than the R-Design model. The setup is aimed at fast road use, not on-track antics.
Even the interior is improved. New seats, new materials, some blue highlights and a scattering of Polestar badges remind you that this is no standard V60. It’s also got all of the toys that you’d find in a fully-specced V60.
Press the Start button and the six rumbles into life. Pull away and within a few metres it’s immediately apparent that this V60 drives like no other. The ride is noticeably firmer and much more controlled than a standard V60 but the Öhlins dampers provide a reasonable level of comfort.
Turning the wheel reveals that there is some actual ‘feel’ there – usually in short supply in Volvos (and most modern cars, sadly). That gives you the confidence to lean on the car a bit more and that reveals there’s plenty of grip, even on damp tarmac.
With the re-calibrated six-speed automatic transmission in Drive it is refined, comfortable and docile. It feels like it could cover big distances without punishing the occupants and, of course, it feels as safe and solid as any regular Volvo.
Switch to Sport mode and it transforms. The exhaust volume goes up but avoids sounding harsh or boomy, taking on a delightful tone that leaves you in no doubt there’s a potent 6-cylinder petrol engine in front. The throttle is suddenly much sharper and even the gearbox feels like it wants to play.
Considering the safe and practical roots of this estate car, 4.9 seconds to 62mph is both ridiculous and hilarious in equal measure. All-wheel drive traction and a launch control system helps here. The Polestar representative explained that the ESP system can be dialled back and it then sends more power to the rear wheels, although the ever-present threat of Millbrook’s marshalls and worried looks from the Volvo team prevented me from testing this.
After a couple of laps of the Millbrook hill route I’m back with the Volvo team, smiling from the experience. I’ve only had a sample of the Polestar’s talents but it’s obvious this is a very exciting car. It has the hallmarks of a fully developed factory car, not the rough-and-ready feel of an aftermarket conversion, and in terms of pace and appeal it’s the equal of the German marques.
I really hope Volvo can sell the 125 cars allocated to the UK market because if they can Polestar could get the green light to work on other models. The price of £49,775 may seem steep but the Germans have proved that there are quite a few people willing to spend that (and more) on a very fast estate car.
2014 Volvo V60 Polestar Specs
|Performance & Economy||2014 Volvo V60 Polestar Specs|
|Engine||2,953cc turbocharged inline 6-cylinder, petrol|
|Transmission||6-speed automatic, all-wheel drive|
|Power (PS / bhp)||354 / 350 @ 5,700rpm|
|Torque (Nm / lb.ft)||500 / 369 @ 2800-4750 rpm|
|0 - 62 mph (seconds)||4.9|
|Top Speed (mph)||155 (limited)|
|CO2 Emissions (g/km)||237|
|Combined Economy (mpg)||27.7|
|Kerb Weight (kg)||1,822|