2015 Volvo S60 Polestar video review

Safe, sedate and sensible? Pah. This’ll eat wanna-be road rally cars for breakfast!

By Shahzad Sheikh

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

What race-tuned compact saloon has all-wheel drive, 346bhp and can accelerate from 0-100kph in just 4.7 seconds? No, it’s not the Subaru WRX STI – that’s the same size but only has 300bhp and takes 5.2seconds to 100kph. Is it the now-dead Mitsubishi Evo X? Nah. In regular guise that had 291bhp and managed 100kph in 4.8 seconds. Close but not it.

This video will give it away, click below to watch my review

So what are we talking then? Maybe an Audi S3? Nope, 296bhp and 5.0 seconds. Mercedes CLA 45 AMG then? Actually that does put out 355bhp and will hit 100kph in a fractionally quicker 4.6seconds with AWD. But it’s about AED10k more expensive than the car I’m talking about it.

If it wasn’t for the headline and the pictures on this page, you’d never have guessed it of course, but I’m referring to the not-so sedate and sensible (but certainly still safe) 2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar!

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

What is Polestar?

Well think of it as the AMG or M-Sport division of Volvo, and you’ll be seeing these little blue badges on other Volvos in future. It has the credentials – Polestar Performance (which Volvo purchased this summer) was sister to the Polestar Racing Team which is the official Volvo Factory Racing Team that successfully campaigned Touring Car Series in Sweden and Britain.

So as a result of this – the two limited edition S60 and V60 Volvo road cars that Polestar had tuned, are now full production cars, and the good news is that we can therefore get them right here in the UAE.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

S60 – performance tuned by Polestar

So what do we have here, apart from the revised 2014 Volvo S60 which was heavily facelifted from the A-pillar forwards?

Well there’s that 3.0-litre twin-turbo putting out big power and torque as mentioned, and of course the rear-biased Haldex all-wheel drive system, along with the 6-speed transmission tuned by Polestar, Brembo brakes, 20-inch diamond-cut alloys, racing-derived Ohlin Sports Suspension with DFV (Dual Flow Valve) which essentially helps the shocks to settle faster over bumps, stiffer springs, that subtle but effective bodykit, dual sports exhaust and the ‘Rebel Blue’ paint.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

What’s it like?

Not much has changed physically if you’re familiar with the S60. Which is to say it has a decent deep if not-so-tall boot, adequate rear cabin space, comfortable seats, typically good ergonomics and intuitive controls, fort-like safety and all the attributes you’ve come to expect and know of a Volvo.

Except that this one turns up the performance quotient significantly – on a scale of 1-to-10, this Volvo S60 Polestar is definitely an 11.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

If I could get the criticisms out of the way first, I was expecting the Brembos to be a bit more bitey and the steering to be sharper; but the former makes up for it with strong stopping power and consistent performance, whilst the later more than compensates with good feel and feedback.

Yes it understeers – as you’d expect from an AWD, but less than you’d imagine, probably due to the rear-favouring set-up, and what you do get is more a sweeping, arc-enlargening affair rather than anything resembling plough-on. And again, it’s an easy matter to adjust the car’s attitude with a little throttle tweaking. You can also push through it, by giving it the full beans and letting the rear really get busy.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

In fact, combined with the sensational grip on hand from the Haldex, this is a wonderfully forgiving and still surprisingly engaging car to drive hard through a series of bends. Surface and camber changes don’t seems to worry it, and the ride is not quite as ruined as you might have believed given the wheels and suspension changes. There’s great body control, but adequate bump absorption. Basically you can chuck this car around much harder than you’d picture yourself doing in a Volvo and find it both reassures and entertains.

Performance too is terrifically torquey. Slide the gear lever across to sport and the sports exhaust is activated, instantly endowing it with a deeper more potent hum and more of a joyful bark at full bore. The gearbox does a fairly decent job, but I found it best to use the paddles to really take charge when… well… charging hard.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

Verdict

The 2015 Volvo S60 Polestar is fast, friendly and fun, whilst retaining the Volvo values of durability and safety. It’s a bit of a Q-car – sure the looks suggest performance, but it’s too easy to dismiss it as just a body kit, not realising that, as with all Volvos, the goodness runs more than just skin deep. This car is a blast to drive.

However, it is pricey. Sure we’re talking better performance than cars like the BMW 335i which is more expensive, or the Cadillac ATS which is cheaper, but the S60 feels smaller and its age is showing a bit (especially with the brilliant new XC90 really taking things forward for ‘New’ Volvo). Then there’s the excellent Jaguar XE sector debutante. We haven’t driven the V6 yet, but at only AED5k more with very similar performance and more interior space, that will be a hard one to beat.

2015 Volvo S60 T6 AWD Polestar

Nonetheless, the Volvo S60 is a very strong contender and way better than we anticipated. It’s bit like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory donning a helmet, shoulder/knee pads and boxing gloves, hauling himself up into the ring with Amir Khan and punching the boxing champ’s lights out!

So you should definitely check out this car if you’re in the market for a high performance saloon that’ll put the frighteners on the Scooby crowd!

Volvo S60 Polestar – The Specs

Price: AED229,900 ($63k)
Engine: 3.0-liter V6, 346bhp @ 5250rpm, 369lb ft @ 3000rpm
Performance: 0-100kph 4.7secs, 250kph, 11.2L/100km
Transmission: 6-speed auto, all-wheel drive
Weight:  1600kg

Let us know what you think of the Volvo S60 Polestar in the comments below

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