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Volvo builds a Ford Focus RS beater - but it's only a concept for now
19 May 2010

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.


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Flaws? Well leaving aside the Polestar's slight lack of production viability, it's fair to report that not all of it feels up to road-going standards.

The cabin feels aftermarket-downmarket, with Alcantara swathing almost every surface, the rear-biased brakes would be too extreme for everyday use and we're not really convinced the XXL chassis settings would stand up to the scrutiny of a proper British B-road...

Should I buy one?

You're very unlikely to get the chance. Polestar admits that a production version of its C30 is a long shot – not least because it would need to wear a pricetag of over £40,000 to be viable.

But what it does show is that Polestar is serious about becoming Volvo's equivalent to RenaultSport, or even BMW's M-Division. And on the evidence of this C30 – and newly-divorced Volvo's clear desire to add some excitement to its brand – that would probably be a good thing.

Mike Duff

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20 May 2010

I want one i mean it! Who would have thought? a 400bhp 4wd volvo hot hatch...

20 May 2010

Whilst I like these kind of fast cars, I really do not see the point. Nobody that could afford one is going to buy one when they can get an M3 for the same money or a Focus RS for less. Volvo make family cars, that is what they do .... when they try to move into areas like young and cool the image falls apart. Just like when you think large family estate you think Volvo or Merc if you are minted and Skoda if on a budget.

I know it is hard to tell engineers to concentrate on new folding seat mechanisms when in reality they want to make cars like this .... but Volvo has no chance of making lots of money selling cars like this (Polestar brand) cos the market will say, we don't need or want a 400bhp, £40k Volvo hatch.

20 May 2010

i would have one ,as i think the RS ford is a poor shoddy brand name, not interested. it would be a bargian to have something with more power and 4wd, and a cool brand model(volvo c30). Would have such a lot going for it for those wanting to be different (one of the definitions of cool) and not fancying an evo 400 or audi quattro model for similar prices.

20 May 2010

Mitsubishi sell a 4wd 400bhp car for £50k IIRC.

20 May 2010

and its very respected.

20 May 2010

It didn't start off as such though, the Evo 1 was much less powerful but also much cheaper, Volvo could possibly start by dropping 100bhp and trying to compete with the s3 which is more of a competitor imo than the rs. If they could undercut it slightly and provide good dynamics I think people would buy it. I would.

20 May 2010

the s3 is a kind of wildcard at the moment because its so bizzarely cheap, cheaper than a golf, as long as that price stays then yes its a good comparison car.

20 May 2010

I don't think it will increase too much due to the rs3 and inevitable full redesign of the a3 soon, I perceive Volvo to be just about up there in terms of class image as audi. can see people who wouldst own a rs buying the Volvo. I had a brand new focus for about 8 months, obviously not an rs but I was far from impressed with it as a whole package, more the fit and finish quality than anything but I wouldn't buy one with my own money, rs or not. Id snap your hand off for a s3 though

20 May 2010

Come on then FORD!, going to build an RS 500 4WD limited edition?, would that upset people who've ordered the RS 500 not so special ?

20 May 2010

the next standard RS is going to be 4wd.. it will be better than the RS500. for sure.


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