Bluntly put, this S60 falls some way short of the dynamic mark set by the usual super-saloon suspects. It lacks the steering alacrity and outright grip of rivals such as the Mercedes-AMG C63 and BMW M3 Competition. Being the only car in this clique whose powertrain leads from the front, the Volvo also lacks the balance inherent even in far less powerful rear-driven saloons.
So much, of course, many might expect of it; and none of which is to say the top-billing S60 doesn’t drive well. It does, with its sophisticated Ohlins dampers lifting the car’s character beyond the inoffensive security of typical Volvo fare and into a more entertaining dimension.
To cope with British roads, the Ohlins need to be set close to their most forgiving configuration. Thereafter they provide on-road vertical body control so deft it is perhaps unmatched by anything else in this class. Underlined by the succinct management of weight transfer that this suspension provides, the steering revisions are easy to detect, and those first few degrees of direction change are more involving and accurate than expected.
Consider also that the small, rear-mounted electric motor often helps neutralise mid-corner chassis balance, and what you have is a sure-footed sports saloon with just enough dynamic interest to warrant a keen style of operation.
That being said, the car never stops being a Volvo. In road driving, most forms of chassis rotation are quickly ruled out of the question, not least because the ESC can never be fully disabled. The car is unambiguous in stating how it wants to be driven: quickly and neatly. One tester put it well when he described the S60 Polestar Engineered as being an otherwise sensible car that will adequately enliven those five miles of your commute where the route gets interesting – and that feels like the beginning and the end of its dynamic ambition.
COMFORT AND ISOLATION
There are some boxes a modern Volvo saloon simply has to tick, and one is that which is marked ‘rolling refinement’. They haven’t forgotten this in Gothenburg, and so while the S60 Polestar Engineered falls short of more powerful, extroverted rivals as a pure driving event, it mostly surpasses them in its ability to isolate occupants from the outside world.
The sensation is enhanced by the high scuttle, deep seats and the cabin’s air of indestructibility, but our test microphone showed that noise from the engine, tyres and oncoming air are indeed less intrusive than for the equivalent AMG or M division wares. The last Audi RS4 Avant we tested did prove fractionally quieter on the move, however.