Revved Up: The Volvo V60 Polestar – A Star Is Born

By Geoff Maxted on 5 October, 2015

Over time I have had the pleasure of driving several of the current range of Volvo cars. They have all been uniformly excellent for most needs, as you would expect from this company, but if you really like to drive – if you really, really like to drive – then the driving dynamics might come as a slight disappointment. These cars are built for comfort and safety, not an engaging drive; until now that is.

Developed by Volvo’s racing and performance division, the V60 Polestar addresses those illicit driver urges with gusto. The estate has evolved from the racing heritage of the World Touring Car Championship Polestar to give owners a real bang for their euro-buck.

The supplied supplementary Polestar specific handbook sonorously warns that the Drive Mode is for the road and the full-fat Sport Mode is for the track. From the outset though our enthusiastic driver is going to push the gear lever into Sport, initiate Launch Control (yes really), reach for the paddles and light up the tarmac.

There’s always a downside. The dash was recording an average fuel consumption of a meagre 20.2mpg. Volvo reckon that 27.7mpg should be possible but I believe that would take some seriously discreet driving, in which case why not buy the regular V60 instead? With a car this powerful you might as well accept the inevitable.

The Volvo V60 Polestar is clearly a versatile car for all reasons thanks to the roomy cabin and boot. There’s no point in talking in-depth about the exterior, you can see it for yourself. It’s the standard car but with subtle embellishments of splitters, spoilers and diffusers plus a discreet Polestar badge. Those items and the two big pipes sticking out the back are the giveaways that suggest this car has a dual purpose.

Inside the Volvo, it is the same story. The high-quality V60 interior is pretty much common to the whole range from the Swedish manufacturer only now in this case it is kitted out with superb charcoal leather Polestar-specific seats, pale blue stitching and other understated touches. There was also a small sunroof. Despite the priority sporting attributes all who rode in it pronounced it comfortable – given the firm, sporting suspension – and the boot was ample for all our needs with an optional space-saver spare tucked under the floor.

Power is derived from a tuned 3.0L turbocharged transverse straight six generating a stonking 350bhp and 369lb/ft of torque. This propels the car up to 62mph in a scant 4.9 seconds but achieves this without any drama at all yet is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks around. Polestar haven’t stopped there though. Handling is courtesy of an Öhlins shock absorber system and other performance improvements all of which are brought to a swift halt by some big, beefy Brembo brakes and glued to the road by a Haldex 4×4 system and Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber.

Unfortunately the six-speed auto ‘box is a bit of a disappointment; its upshifts are slow and the whole thing just isn’t crisp enough overall. Not enough of an issue though to change grin to grimace. Credit must be given to the paddles which are small and perfectly placed with a nice comfortable feel.

This being a Volvo, all the safety equipment (and there’s a lot of it) is on board as usual. To give you an idea of the attention to detail let me tell you about speed warnings. The speed limit at any given time is shown on the central dial, which is handy but Volvo don’t stop there. It is also indicated by a small pointer above the appropriate numeral plus the dial indicator is partially spotlighted (not in Performance Mode) for clarity.

Some of the safety kit can be a bit irritating, it must be said. For example the ‘lane departure’ warning sounds every time you cross a lane marking line – unless you indicate. What’s worse is that it quietens the brilliant Harmon Kardon sound system to ensure you heard it. The trouble is, one cannot be critical because, when the family is on board in today’s challenging road conditions, this is all good, welcome stuff. It might be a bit nannying but one day you could well be thanking Volvo for their expertise.

In full performance mode this big heavy car gets up the road like a scalded cat late for a hot date. At all times I never felt that control was running away from me. It is a poised drive, even on twisting B-roads. Slow things down and you’ve got, as mentioned, a versatile family car that is safe, secure yet has that extra something that keen drivers want and need. All you need is the desire to drive and the requisite £50,000. Well, there’s always a downside.

Geoff Maxted