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