From £48,3107
Volvo V60 Polestar lacks edge, but offers a glimpse of more advanced performance Volvos to come from Polestar

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?

On-the-up Volvo has recently unveiled an advanced new platform, a family of cutting-edge powertrains and a trio of gorgeous concepts. All of which is somewhat at odds with this, the first full production car to be offered in the UK from race-born Polestar Performance, Volvo's best-buds tuning house (think Gothenburg's Alpina).

For the Volvo V60 Polestar is a more traditional offering, using the recently departed V60 T6 as its base, which means a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and six-speed auto 'box (both legacies of Ford ownership) powering all four wheels. It comes in the wake of 2012's 501bhp S60 Polestar 'concept' working prototype.

Polestar's upgrades are deep-running and plentiful. Chassis mods include springs 80 per cent stiffer than Volvo's firmest, manually adjustable Ohlins dampers, stiffer anti-roll bars and a carbonfibre-reinforced front strut for snappier steering - all tuned to accommodate 20in rims. 

A twin-scroll Borg Warner turbo, new intercooler and freer-flowing exhaust push output to 345bhp and 369lb ft: 15 per cent hikes over the old T6. The paddle-equipped self-shifter has been thoroughly recalibrated, while a fifth-gen Haldex coupling (lifted from the S60 concept) apportions torque; normally front axle-biased, it defaults to 50/50 with the traction control dialled down, when accelerating or cornering hard. Enlarged Brembo discs with six-pot front calipers work with reconfigured traction control.

Exterior tweaks are subtle, ticking the habitual splitter, diffuser and spoiler boxes. Cabin upgrades are mostly restrained, too: the sports seats (supportive and generously padded) and steering wheel are clad in nubuck and leather, complementing the V60's premium plastics and smart layout, but the transparent gearknob topper and centre console's carbonfibre are incongruously brash.

What's it like?

Pushing the starter button prompts a brief growl; knock the shifter into Sport mode (or breach 4000rpm in Drive) and the exhaust blares on thanks to a pair of baffles. Sample the launch control and you experience the Polestar in microcosm - lots of speed but ample security and little drama. 

The engine is lazy at low revs but pulls strongly from 4000rpm to the 6500rpm limiter, growing louder but never coarse, accompanied by whooshes from the acceptably responsive turbo.

The transmission mapping impresses, reinvigorating the aged 'box as upshift requests via the wholly unmechanical-feeling paddles are obliged swiftly and with impressive speed and smoothness. However, the Polestar's urban manner - which otherwise borders on stately - is marred by slightly jerky downshifts and an over-eagerness to kick down in Drive, plus some low-rev droning.

On the motorway, the car makes a relaxing mile-quasher. Peel off to a twisting country road and the speeds you can carry through constant-radius bends are heady, the tarmac-sucking dampers and Haldex tricks lending a huge sense of stability. But the electro-mechanical steering, though well-weighted, fast-acting and precise, spoils outright engagement.

The ride is one of the car's best features, though, striking a fine balance between body control and comfort - despite the chassis' tight reign, only once in a day's varied driving did it jar, though UK roads could multiply that.

Should I buy one?

Probably, but there's no avoiding the high price, however. Even after adding a multitude of pricey options, a cleaner but similarly powered and paced (if harsher-riding) Audi S4 Avant costs a few grand less than the toy-rich Volvo.

But if 125 UK buyers-in-waiting can swallow the cost, they'll be rewarded with an interesting and highly capable, if straight-laced, fast estate. 

Volvo V60 Polestar

Price £49,775; 0-62mph 5.0sec; Top speed 155mph (limited); Economy 27.7mpg; CO2 237g/km; Kerb weight 1834kg; Engine 6 cyls, 2953cc, turbo, petrol; Power 345bhp at 5250rpm; Torque 369lb ft at 3000-4750rpm; Gearbox 6-spd auto

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Comments
9

17 April 2014
In September 2013, Volvo said its net loss widened on lower overall sales volumes, negative currency effects and increased discounts.

Volvo posted a net loss of 778 million Swedish kronor ($120 million) during the first half of the year, compared with a net loss of 274 million kronor a year earlier. Revenue fell 14% to 56.4 billion kronor

 

Hydrogen cars just went POP

18 April 2014
xxxx wrote:

In September 2013, Volvo said its net loss widened on lower overall sales volumes, negative currency effects and increased discounts.

Volvo posted a net loss of 778 million Swedish kronor ($120 million) during the first half of the year, compared with a net loss of 274 million kronor a year earlier. Revenue fell 14% to 56.4 billion kronor

And its owner Geely have just recently signed cheques for $11bn worth of funding, once the new engines and platform come fully on stream they will be the brand to watch, excellent new engines, a new platform that has impressed those that have ridden in it, a new well recieved design direction for both the interior and exterior, and an in house tuning firm with genuine talent, Polestar helped develop the new engines and platform from the beginning, and recent test reviews are now praising the ride quality of the latest models. The German marques need to start getting worried, in the next couple of years they may find they are not the default option.

Oh and also according to the Financial Times on 11 March 2014:

Volvo is almost halfway through a five-year, $11bn investment plan that it – and Geely, also – hopes will turn it into a leaner, more global carmaker that has retained its Scandinavian charm while leveraging low-cost Chinese sourcing and manufacturing skills.
The company will announce a “substantial” operating profit for 2013 this month, according to Mr Samuelsson, as close to $250m of cost savings helps the carmaker to improve on a break-even position in 2012.
Crucial to its future is a new vehicle family, designed with Geely, that would allow it to build smaller, lower-end models that share parts and designs with high-end Geely products, bridging the large gap in brand power between owner and asset.
“Volvo cannot afford to be dragged [downwards],” says Mr Samuelsson. “Geely will move more than us . . . it has an ambition to move upwards towards us . . . There is a limit how big this band [of shared products] can be.”
“There is no danger of a customer paying for a Volvo brand car that is essentially a Geely. That is stupid,” says Mr Yuan.

17 April 2014
I know an S4 may be better, a C63 faster but I can't help but want one of these. The Polestar brand has huge potential and I'd happily take a V60 off their hands in that shade of blue if I had the money.

17 April 2014
There isnt any evidence that the S4 avant is better in this review. The handling in Audis isnt highly regarded now, plus the ride quality is superior to rivals in the V60. This will be marketed as the usable performance car. In all weathers, all circumstances.

17 April 2014
"which means a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and six-speed auto 'box (both legacies of Ford ownership) powering all four wheels."

- The 3.0 litre straight six was an engine of Volvo's own design and the gearbox comes from Aisin Warner, a supplier of autos to the brand probably going back to the 1980's.

17 April 2014
Volvophile wrote:

"which means a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and six-speed auto 'box (both legacies of Ford ownership) powering all four wheels."

- The 3.0 litre straight six was an engine of Volvo's own design and the gearbox comes from Aisin Warner, a supplier of autos to the brand probably going back to the 1980's.

Glad you tackled this. I wanted to but without hard fact. There is always an unnecessary jibe. Im looking forward to the XC90 roadtest in the coming year. In house chassis and engines that are class leading, plus tech that is unrivaled should see a different take on a Volvo testdrive..

22 April 2014
Volvophile wrote:

"which means a turbocharged 3.0-litre straight six and six-speed auto 'box (both legacies of Ford ownership) powering all four wheels."

- The 3.0 litre straight six was an engine of Volvo's own design and the gearbox comes from Aisin Warner, a supplier of autos to the brand probably going back to the 1980's.

Entirely correct, it was Volvo's own engine originally designed to the replace the T5 engine and was to be used in various models in the PAG, it was supposed to be going in Jaguars and actually did make it into the Freelander in certain markets, available as either:

Volvo B6324S Short I6 — 3.2 litres (NA) and Volvo B6304T2 Short I6 — 3.0 litres (Turbo), the engine was designed by Volvo in Sweden but is built in Wales, at Ford's Bridgend plant.

18 April 2014
Seems the reviewer wasn't that impressed. Strange; this thing is far more desirable than an S4 to me. Far rarer too. There's something still a bit incongruous about a fast Volvo estate, which is why they're cool.

21 April 2014
...factually incorrect review. As volvophile points out; the article is just wrong. Please don't get like AE Autocar?!! Sort it!

Harsh review too. Only the VAG fantisizers will agree with a verdict that the S4 is better....oh and the German....oh sorry...British motoring press.

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