Polestar Volvos started appearing in 2009, yet until now they’ve either been extreme concepts or dealer-fit tuning packages. Making this new, Volvo factory-built high-performance 345hp V60 estate the first true Polestar road car.
It is only being offered in seven markets worldwide – and although some will get an S60 saloon variant as well, production is limited to 750 units in total. While the UK has been allocated a relatively generous 125 V60s, this is going to be a rare and exclusive choice. Especially given the price.
At £49,775 it’s way beyond the £41,100 you’ll pay for a 302bhp Sport Auto equipped BMW 335i Touring M Sport or the £40,740 Audi charges for the 329bhp S4 Avant, both of which are more efficient and have a bigger boot. In compensation for the extra cash you get a car absolutely loaded kit – the only option is the paint colour – and a decent amount of bespoke engineering.
Polestar remains an independent company, but it is also Volvo’s motorsport partner – and has been since it was created in 1996. The two worked very closely to redevelop the 300bhp V60 T6 AWD into the car you see here.
Visual proof comes in the form of new spoilers front and rear, improving downforce at the 155mph limited top speed. Then there are the massive 20-inch alloys, behind which lurk enormous 371mm Brembo front brakes with Polestar labelled six-piston calipers. A new turbocharger and intercooler set-up add the extra power, boosting to 1.2 bar (instead of 0.8) and breathing through a 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system, valved to become louder at full chat.
With 0-62mph taking a guaranteed 5.0 seconds thanks to the easy-access launch control, standard six-speed auto and Haldex four-wheel drive system, this is a fast car. However, at 1,834kg, it’s also a heavy one. So Polestar has wisely expended a great deal of effort upgrading the chassis.
Changes here include faster-shifting gearbox software and biasing the four-wheel drive more towards the rear, plus a carbonfibre-reinforced strut brace, stronger top mounts and stiffer suspension bushes. The springs are 80% firmer than the regular R-Design equivalents, the anti-roll bars 15% increased – but the key improvement comes from the ultra-trick Öhlins dampers.
Unique motorsport-derived valve technology means these deal impressively well with low, medium and high speed bumps, giving this V60 a satisfyingly deft blend of comfort and control. While Polestar hasn’t touched the electrically assisted steering, the other mods help deliver extra feel, and with huge grip levels what ought to be a bit of a barge is surprisingly at home on a twisting racing circuit. Polestar is keen to stress it was never intended as a track car.
On the road the ride is decisive enough to give you confidence in the corners without ruining motorway composure. The result is relaxed but rapid progress with engaging charm, accompanied by a rushing turbo soundtrack like a muted Nissan GT-R. The sense of serious masses tightly marshalled is similar, too – though let’s not get carried away with that comparison.
You do still have to be patient paddleshifting on downchanges, and in spite of Polestar’s best efforts with black leather and blue stitching, the interior suffers the usual lack of quality and clarity. But if you’ve got the funds and fancy something different there is plenty to like.