This is one of two full-fat fast cars in the Polestar range, the other being the V60. The Sweden-based tuning specialist was bought outright by Volvo in July 2015 and has outlined its ambition to be a stand-alone brand, separate from its parent company, to one day rival the likes of Mercedes-AMG, BMW's M division and Audi' Sport.
But while the S60 Polestar has been on sale on the Continent since April and will now be sold in the Middle East as well, it isn't coming to the UK, unlike its estate sibling.
This, though, is the first time we’ve got behind the wheel of a full production version of the S60 Polestar, and while you can’t buy it over here, it offers a taste of what’s to come from the Swedes on these shores as Polestar plots to be a major player in the ever-growing performance segment.
The S60 packs 345bhp and 369lb ft of torque from its 3.0-litre six-cylinder engine and is paired with a six-speed automatic gearbox, but this set-up; has been replaced by a more efficient 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine and eight-speed gearbox which together help the S60 and V60 get its 362bhp power on the tarmac. Volvo even states that Polestar has made more than 70 modifications and upgrades to the turbocharged 2.0-litre unit.
The S60 Polestar is fairly ferocious but remarkably composed, and on this showing there’s reason to be optimistic for the future. It isn’t that sharp off the line, but keep engine revs above 3000rpm and it pulls tremendously well up to the limiter, delivering a pleasingly rorty engine tone along the way.
The sharpened chassis – which is some 80 per cent stiffer than that of the T6 R-Design on which it’s based – gives the car a composed high-speed ride without feeling too rigid when you carry some pace through corners.
The all-wheel drive system helps to give the car a surefooted feel, while grip at the standard 20in wheels is impressive across quick, winding roads, and the steering is weighted consistently enough to help attack corners with confidence and verve.
The gearbox doesn’t miss a beat, delivering quick changes through the paddle shifts in manual mode, or smoothly pushing you along in automatic. Downshifts, when the gearbox is left to its own devices, aren’t quite so smooth or intuitive, though, so pushing on along back roads is best done in manual mode.
Inside the cabin, the S60 is comfortable and luxurious, without being lavish, and it's specced up to the eyeballs, with plenty of safety kit thrown in. The dash is a bit cluttered with buttons, though, and the multimedia screen could do with being a bit bigger to make it easier to read.