From £48,3107
The new Volvo V60 Polestar gets a lighter four-cylinder engine packing 362bhp and an eight-speed auto 'box, but is it any more agile?

Our Verdict

Volvo V60 Polestar
The V60 Polestar is powered by a 345bhp turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six engine

Volvo returns to the performance fold with a promising fast estate

  • First Drive

    2016 Volvo V60 Polestar review

    The new Volvo V60 Polestar gets a lighter four-cylinder engine packing 362bhp and an eight-speed auto 'box, but is it any more agile?
  • First Drive

    Volvo V60 Polestar first drive review

    Volvo V60 Polestar lacks edge, but offers a glimpse of more advanced performance Volvos to come from Polestar

What is it?

Since Volvo bought tuning firm Polestar last year, it has decided to set its new team to work changing the fundamentals of the V60 Polestar wagon.

So what’s new? Well, the biggest change is the engine. Polestar has ousted the heavy six-cylinder engine and instead, dropped in the lighter 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine from the XC90 T8 hybrid – minus the electric motor, that is. That has taken 24kg off the front axle, helping to balance the Polestar’s weight more evenly, and has reduced the overall weight by 20kg. Tick.

If an engine from a hybrid SUV sounds dull, it needn’t. It’s double-whooshed with both turbocharging and supercharging, and pumping in all that air and fuel means it now produces a worthy 362bhp. That’s 17bhp more than before, although there’s a bit less torque. Still, another tick.

But simply adding boost is for amateurs, so there are new internals to consolidate the performance gains and stop the engine from detonating prematurely the minute you hit the 7000rpm limiter. The standard conrods and camshafts have been binned for trickier items, plus a less suffocating air intake, filter, and a 3.0in stainless exhaust help it to breathe. Yet more ticks.

It doesn’t stop there, either. The same Borg Warner four-wheel drive system now defaults to 50/50 torque distribution in its sportier settings, which give the new eight-speed automatic gearbox edgier settings for quicker shifts.

The steering is now electrically assisted with unique calibration, and while the stiffer springs and manually adjustable Öhlins shocks are a carryover from the old car, at the front the settings are tweaked to reflect the slim-line engine. If you include the carbonfibre strut brace, bigger six-pot brakes and Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres, that’s now many, many more ticks.

What's it like?

You might think that with that little lot, this would be a track-day marvel, but Polestar's engineers don’t consider it so. Instead, they want us to view it as a quick but very usable road car, which is the philosophy Polestar will embody from now on.

In Comfort mode, the engine is pretty muted and the gearbox slurs through its ratios with no great sense of urgency. But select Sport mode - or Sport +, which aims to keep the engine above 4000rpm when using the gearbox as a full auto for better response and engine braking – and the throttle and gearbox react faster, accompanied by an additional bark from the exhaust as the baffles open up. You certainly feel the sharper shifts, but they still aren’t dual-clutch quick, and using the paddles is the best method if you really want to crack on.

When you do, the Polestar is quick, but it won’t make you blasphemous the first time you gun it off the line. Despite the supercharger, it’s a little laggy to begin with and doesn’t do much below 2000rpm. You need to add another 1000rpm before it's properly into its stride, after which it builds pace exponentially as the revs climb, with a pleasant rasp at full chat.

There are three steering modes – which require delving into the settings to change - but if you dislike artificially heavy helms, the Comfort setting is the best judged. It loads up nicely as you pile on the lock, but it’s not particularly feelsome.

If you're dedicated, you can scrabble around on the floor playing with the front dampers (the rears are adjusted from inside the car), which offer 20 clicks of adjustment between soft and firm. We had ours bang on 10 for a mix of road and track use.

Proper dampers with carefully chosen spring rates invariably work wonders for ride and handling, and the Polestar is a case in point. I’d be lying if I said it’s not firm, but it's never harsh. And with that comes good wheel and body control that you can rely on to keep the contact patches squished to the road, even when met with scraggy bits in the middle of corners. That’s on French roads, but I’d wager this car will cope okay even on the UK's tragically poor examples.

Volvo let us have a handful of laps at the Paul Ricard race circuit, but that exercise merely proved that the V60 Polestar is not really a track car. It made a decent fist of it, but then the numb steering and brake pedal spoilt what grip and composure remained.

Should I buy one?

The 43-strong team at Polestar set out to create a quick, safe and enjoyable road car, and on balance they’ve done just that. Okay, the new V60 Polestar (like the last one) lacks some finesse, but it’s certainly good enough to encourage you to choose the long way home.

For Volvo, the Polestar connects its WTCC racing programme to its road cars, gives the brand a halo product and cements Polestar as a name to look out for. At a whisker under £50k, that price almost guarantees exclusivity when deliveries start in October, a situation that will no doubt suit the slightly maverick men and women to which this car will appeal.

Volvo V60 Polestar

Location France; On sale October; Price £49,900 (est); Engine 4 cyls, 1969cc, turbocharged and supercharged, petrol; Power 362bhp at 6000rpm; Torque 347lb ft at 3100-5100rpm; Gearbox 8-spd automatic; Kerb weight 1796kg; 0-62mph 4.8sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 34.9mpg (combined); CO2/tax band 186g/km, 34%

Join the debate

Comments
16

4 April 2016
Sounds great as a starting point for the new halo brand and a great all round car but if they want to make an impact in the market place they need to do something memorable, in the same way as Volvo did with the original 850 T5.

Flawed but memorable.

 

 

It's all about the twisties........

4 April 2016
TegTypeR wrote:

Sounds great as a starting point for the new halo brand and a great all round car but if they want to make an impact in the market place they need to do something memorable, in the same way as Volvo did with the original 850 T5.

Flawed but memorable.

Agreed, but you also have to remember this S/V60 is coming to the end of its life and is due to be replaced by a brand new from the ground model, so this could be just the start..

4 April 2016
God, who would buy this car. Its just an over priced Ford, with a few Swedish design flourishes. Why not get an old Ford Mondeo instead and get the same underlying architecture!

4 April 2016
OMG its based on Fords EUCD platform that dates from 2006! A Ford antique that even Ford doesn't use anymore.

4 April 2016
A supposed "premium" car on a platform that isn't even fit for a non premium manufacturer like Ford! Why not just get a new Mondeo and move with the times?

4 April 2016
OMG the Ford EUCD platform also under pins the Range Rover Evoque and Discovery Sport! All they are, are jacked up Ford Mondeo's. Why would you even bother with them. Just buy a old shape Mondeo instead! You get the same underlying architecture!

4 April 2016
What else in Volvos range is really just a Ford Mondeo? S80, V70, XC60, S/V60. So apart from the New XC90 and S90, you may as well bypass Volvo's range completely and just get the respective Ford, either Focus or Mondeo instead!

4 April 2016
winniethewoo wrote:

What else in Volvos range is really just a Ford Mondeo? S80, V70, XC60, S/V60. So apart from the New XC90 and S90, you may as well bypass Volvo's range completely and just get the respective Ford, either Focus or Mondeo instead!

You don't really get how the motor development industry works do you...

4 April 2016
Marc wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

What else in Volvos range is really just a Ford Mondeo? S80, V70, XC60, S/V60. So apart from the New XC90 and S90, you may as well bypass Volvo's range completely and just get the respective Ford, either Focus or Mondeo instead!

You don't really get how the motor development industry works do you...

Couldn't have put it better myself.

4 April 2016
winniethewoo wrote:
Marc wrote:
winniethewoo wrote:

What else in Volvos range is really just a Ford Mondeo? S80, V70, XC60, S/V60. So apart from the New XC90 and S90, you may as well bypass Volvo's range completely and just get the respective Ford, either Focus or Mondeo instead!

You don't really get how the motor development industry works do you...

Couldn't have put it better myself.

I am parodying here what people write about VAG group cars, esp in regard to Citytiger who claims all VAG group cars are the same because of the same underlying architecture, who yet manages to praise Volvos for their distinctiveness and specialness.

Pages

Add your comment

Log in or register to post comments

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week

  • Kia Stonic
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Handsome entrant into the bulging small crossover market has a strong engine and agile handling, but isn’t as comfortable or complete as rivals
  • Hyundai Kona
    First Drive
    18 October 2017
    Hyundai's funky-looking Kona crossover with a peppy three-cylinder engine makes all the right noises for the car to be a success in a crowded segment
  • Citroën C3 Aircross
    First Drive
    17 October 2017
    The Citroen C3 Aircross has got funky looks and a charming interior, but it's another small SUV, and another dynamic miss. Numb steering is just one thing keeping it from class best
  • Skoda-Karoq 2.0 TDI 4x4
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Diesel version of Skoda’s junior SUV is unobtrusive and undemanding, but we’d still go for the silkier petrol version of the Karoq
  • Audi Q7 e-tron
    First Drive
    16 October 2017
    Expensive and flawed but this understated diesel-electric Audi Q7 has a lot to offer