Quite wonderful in a willfully nonconformist kind of way. On paper, Polestar’s S60 smacks of a butchered touring car repackaged as a muscle-bound saloon, but it comes off the bat as something altogether more interesting.
For one thing, this is the best looking Volvo since Pelle Petterson penned the P1800. The saloon is a handsome car in its own right, but Polestar has embellished the original design’s poise just enough to suggest that there is now some serious sinew beneath the skin. The result remains at arms length from DTM-style ostentation, but still manages to evince some of the same heavyweight presence.
Similarly, the interior is a topographical exercise in understatement. Subtle sports seats have been added, and there’s enough Alcantara to upholster a Unimog, but otherwise the somber, gun-metal grey internal architecture mirrors its siblings right down to the stock steering wheel.
This theme of underplayed reserve is deliberate. Polestar may have one eye on the enthusiast, but the other is on Volvo’s cheque-writing hand. The method in the tuner’s track-happy madness is to deliver a car which could credibly appeal to its sponsor’s safety-first conservative nature while still cracking 62mph in 3.9 seconds.
Consequently, the S60 thunders, burps and whistles when it ought to, but it does not jostle, intimidate or terrify. The power - a fat, forceful hand on your chest, to be sure - is not shrink-wrapped into a hectic, turbocharged surge, but spread through a usable, likable band of wide acceleration. There’s no oversensitivity to the throttle map, either - just a clean and instantly knowable difference between a dawdle and the full ladle.
Likewise, the chassis has been tuned not to snap or startle. By moving components around (the battery is now in the boot for example) and employing carbon fibre in the wings, the engineers have removed 60kg from the car’s nose. Together with the wider track, beefed-up anti-roll bars and those mega-expensive adjustable dampers, it should come as no surprise to learn that the car enters and exits turns with a finesse unfamiliar to the regular S60.
Faced with fully rain-soaked tarmac, the Polestar moves around more vigorously. Bustling understeer can be soothed, but there is a limit to the accelerator pedal’s usefulness as an emollient - the diff has not been setup to completely liberate the back axle. Instead, the rear end is deployed as coaxer to the front, trimming and tuning the line. The retuned electronic power steering delivers information in staccato, blighted as it is by occasional and unexpectedly savage bouts of torque steer, but the full story is laid bare, again, by the quality of the components and the assuredness of the setup, telegraphing relative slip ‘n’ grip straight to the seat backs.