What is it?
The Polestar concept is either a bit of a tease from the company behind Volvo's Swedish Touring Car effort – or an early look at a new direction for the brand's faster products after the recent divorce from Ford.
The Polestar concept made its debut at the recent Gothenburg Motor Show, and was developed by the same team responsible for Volvo's entry in the Swedish Touring Car Championship.
In essence it's a fantasy hot hatch, built from an enthusiastic raid on the corporate parts bin and with performance intended to show up rivals – including that of the Focus RS.
The concept gets a mega-tweaked version of the 2.5-litre Volvo T5 engine that also powers the Ford, claimed to knock out 400bhp and – with drive delivered to all corners via a Haldex clutch and two clever diffs – the Polestar is also claimed to be capable of demolishing the 0-62mph benchmark in just 4.6 seconds.
What's it like?
In a word, quick. In two words, naffing quick. The engine's banzai ECU gives it a relatively narrow power band, but once the turbo spins up it delivers impressively forceful acceleration that feels more than a match for the brash claims made by the spec sheet.
Despite its provenance as a showcar, the Polestar has been engineered to be driven hard, with a reinforced bodyshell, race-spec suspension, monster brakes and even some aerodynamic tweaks intended to produce downforce at speed. The six-speed transmission has had its ratios rejigged, and talks to the wheels via a race-spec clutch.
On Volvo's tight, cresty test track in Gothenburg it delivered an impressively lashed-down driving experience, with massive adhesion, telepathic steering and a neutral chassis balance that makes it easy to find the sweet spot between understeer and (mild) oversteer.
Good manners are underwritten by the all-paw chassis, and the concept seems to genuinely enjoy being driven quickly. Dynamically it feels like a well-sorted Mitsubishi Evo. Even, whisper it, a junior version of the Nissan GT-R.