2015 Volvo V60 Polestar first drive
We test the fire-breathing V60 Polestar wagon – the best fast Volvo ever
Gothenburg, Sweden – This is not the first time we’ve seen a Polestar badge on the back of Volvo, but the new Volvo S60 (sedan) and V60 (wagon) Polestar are the first fully fledged, factory-built effort – the result of close co-operation between Volvo and its independent motorsport partner, Polestar.
This is one badass Swedish station wagon. The Polestar cars cost a lot of money – nearly $65,000 for the S60 which offers not much more power than the BMW and Audi equivalents that cost closer to $50,000 – they are heavy machines. But the effort Polestar has gone to here pays dividends.
The figures you’ll want to keep in mind are as follows: 346 hp, 369 lb.-ft. and 0-100 km/h in 5.0 seconds (the 40-kilo-lighter sedan will hit 100 in 4.9 seconds). Far more crucial than this, however, is what’s been done to the chassis. The car comes with all-wheel drive and a six-speed automatic gearbox as standard, and both get specific Polestar calibration. Then there are the changes to the suspension...
Performance parts by brands you’ll recognize
The key upgrade is a set of exceedingly sophisticated Öhlins dampers – we’ll come back to these – but the V60 Polestar also gets bigger 20-inch wheels with grippier 245-width tires, Brembo brakes, stiffer springs and anti-roll bars, new bushings, new top mounts and a carbonfibre reinforced front strutbrace.
If this is all sounding a bit too boy racer already, you’ll probably want to avoid the Rebel Blue paint (black is also available), and perhaps you won’t be pleased to hear about the aerodynamically optimised bodykit. You should still hang around, though.
For all that this car sounds like some kind of back-breaking nightmare, it’s actually a superbly capable high-performance, long-distance hauler, offering one of the best blends of comfort and control we’ve experienced in quite some time. It’s no BMW M beater – but it’s not supposed to be. The V60 Polestar stands proud all on its own.
The Turbobrick lives
The Polestar is based on the V60 T6 AWD, and features fundamentally the same 3.0-litre straight-six turbo engine. Raising the output from 300 hp to 346 hp has involved replacing both the turbo and the intercooler, however, and helping it breathe is a new 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system. Turbo boost is now up to 1.2 bar – the same as what the Porsche 911 Turbo runs at.
The exhaust has an active valve system, so is quiet at a cruise and thunderous at full chat. With all-wheel drive that now places a much greater emphasis on the rear axle, the Polestar has excellent traction, while fast standing-start getaways are assured by the easily activated launch control system.
Simply deactivate the stability control, pin the brake with your left foot, pin the throttle with your right foot, wait for the revs to rise and hold – which is virtually instantaneous – then let go with your left. The V60 rockets up the road in an extremely un-Volvo-like manner, to an accompanying noise best described as “harmonic straining elephant with turbo”.
If anything, the in-gear acceleration is more stirring still. You need to be in the right gear, but the paddles make light work of this and then you’ve got all the overtaking punch a sane person will ever really need. In fact, you’ll constantly be surprised at just how big a gap there is to the car behind by the time you decide to lift off again. It’s like an indulgently practical catapult.
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