Over time I have had the pleasure of driving several of the current range of Volvo cars. They have all been uniformly excellent for most needs, as you would expect from this company, but if you really like to drive – if you really, really like to drive – then the driving dynamics might come as a slight disappointment. These cars are built for comfort and safety, not performance; until now that is.
Developed by a small group of, I am sure, blond good-looking designers and engineers – possibly attired in chunky Scandi knitwear – from Volvo’s racing and performance division, the V60 Polestar addresses those petrolhead needs with gusto. The estate has evolved from the racing heritage of the WTCC Polestar to give owners a real bang for their euro-buck. You can have it in a choice of four colours but I forbid you buy this car in anything but the Rebel Blue you see here. That’s the Polestar way.
The supplied supplementary Polestar specific handbook sonorously warns that the Drive Mode is for the road and the full-fat Sport Mode is for the track. I mean, that’s never going to happen is it? From the outset the driver is going to push the gear lever into Sport, initiate Launch Control (yes really), reach for the paddles and light up the tarmac. What’s more, the Polestar surprisingly retains the Elegance and Eco dashboard themes (in addition to the red, rev counter biased Performance mode) of the regular cars which change the mood of the dash array as an aid to sedate and frugal driving. I pondered this for a while and then pressed the pedal to the quality carpet.
I mentioned this to the adjacent Mrs DriveWrite, who, not for the first time, looked at me with that special cool look she reserves for terminally stupid people, and pointed out that most owners would probably choose to set up the car to suit the conditions or their style of driving. Maybe regular Drive plus the Elegance theme to relax on long dull motorway trips; Eco to please the planet and so on. Don’t you just hate people who are right all the time? In fact, the Eco theme offers an eco-guide in the display and it provides a sort of encouragement to lift off a bit. Certainly, MPG improved when I followed the guideline.
So, dutifully, I tried the car in all modes. The dash was recording an average fuel consumption of 20.2mpg which I was able to improve upon a tad eco-wise. I expect a greater improvement could be achieved on a long run. Volvo reckon that 27.7mpg should be possible but I believe that would take some seriously discreet driving, in which case why not buy the regular V60 instead? With a car this powerful you might as well accept the inevitable. Drive to suit your mood.
So the Volvo V60 Polestar is clearly a versatile car for all reasons and this extends to the cabin and boot. There’s no point in talking in-depth about the exterior, you can see it for yourself. It’s the standard car but with subtle embellishments of splitters, spoilers and diffusers plus a couple of discreet Polestar badges. Those items and the two big pipes sticking out the back are the giveaways that suggest this car has a dual purpose.
Inside the Volvo, it is the same story. The high-quality V60 interior is pretty much common to the whole range from the Swedish manufacturer only now in this case it is kitted out with superb charcoal leather Polestar-specific seats, pale blue stitching and other understated touches. There was also a sunroof. Neither the boot nor the passenger space is class-leading – one of the few general criticisms of the V60 – but all who rode in it pronounced it comfortable – especially given the firm, sporting suspension – and the trunk was ample for all our needs with an optional space-saver spare tucked under the floor.
There are some detailed spec sheets below but here’s the general overview: Power is derived from a tuned 3.0L turbocharged transverse straight six generating a stonking 350bhp and 369lb/ft of torque. This propels the car up to 62mph in a scant 4.9 seconds but achieves this without any drama at all, yet is accompanied by one of the best soundtracks around. Polestar haven’t stopped there though. Handling is courtesy of an Öhlins shock absorber system and other performance improvements all of which are brought to a swift halt by some big, beefy Brembo brakes and glued to the road by Haldex 4×4 and Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber. For a big car this Polestar really handles and the steering is weighted to perfection.
I was tempted to give this car the full ten stars but, alas, I have deducted a point because unfortunately the six-speed auto ‘box is a bit of a disappointment; its upshifts are slow and the whole thing just isn’t crisp enough overall. Not enough of an issue though to change grin to grimace. Credit must be given to the paddles which are small and perfectly placed with a nice comfortable feel and the cabin ergonomics in general are first class.
This being a Volvo, all the safety equipment is on board as usual. It’s itemised below but to give you an idea of the attention to detail let me tell you about speed warnings. The speed limit at any given time is shown on the central dial, which is handy but Volvo don’t stop there. It is also indicated by a small pointer above the appropriate numeral plus the dial indicator is partially spotlighted (not in Performance Mode) for clarity.
Typically Volvo, this car is absolutely bristling with safety kit (and there’s a lot of it) although some items can be a bit irritating, it must be said. For example the ‘lane departure’ warning sounds every time you cross a lane marking line – unless you indicate, which you don’t always have to do. What’s worse is that it quietens the corking Harman Kardon sound system to ensure you heard it. The trouble is, one cannot be critical because, when the family is on board in today’s challenging road conditions, this is all good, welcome stuff. It might be a bit nannying but one day you could well be thanking Volvo for their expertise. I especially like the BLIS wing proximity warning light which is ideally placed.
In full performance mode this big heavy car gets up the road like a scalded cat. At all times I never felt that control was running away from me. It is a poised drive, even on twisting B-roads. Slow things down and you’ve got, as mentioned, a versatile family car that is safe, secure yet has that extra something that keen drivers want and need. I’m a fickle driver, me. Every once in a while another car comes along that turns my head away from whatever happens to be my flavour of the month. In this case though, if I had the near £50k needed (there’s always a catch) I would buy this Volvo V60 Polestar and be content.Geoff Maxted