Volvo V60 T6 Polestar

With Polestar power upgrade, Volvo continues long tradition of hot estates

Volvo has a strong heritage in the world of high-performance estate cars. Ever since the rapid 850 T5 made its debut nearly 20 years ago, the company has specialised in models that mix explosive pace with family-friendly practicality.

The latest in this long line is the V60 T6 Polestar. By combining a race-tuned 324bhp turbocharged six-cylinder engine with grippy four-wheel drive and an uprated chassis, the Volvo provides a stern test for the Audi S4.

The V60 certainly doesn’t shout about its performance potential, though. Apart from its attractive five-spoke 18-inch alloys and subtle R Design bodykit, our T6 test car could be mistaken for an entry-level model.

As in the Audi, you don’t get many clues about the car’s potential inside, either. Apart from the R Design logos and aluminium pedals, the cabin is virtually unchanged from the basic model.

You get a comfortable driving position and slickly designed dashboard, but the controls for the stereo and the £1,025 optional sat-nav are fiddly compared to the Audi’s MMI set-up. Plus, the V60 can’t match its rival for build quality or classy materials.

It trails in terms of practicality, too. There’s less head and legroom in the back than in the Audi, and there’s only 430 litres of boot space – 60 litres less than in the S4.

The V60’s performance doesn’t disappoint, though. While it was slightly slower than the Audi from 0-60mph at our test track – recording a time of 5.8 seconds – it was faster in all our in-gear tests. For instance, it needed only 2.7 seconds to go from 30-50mph in third; the Audi was three-tenths adrift.

On the road, there’s little to split our two contenders. The Volvo’s sharp throttle response and muscular mid-range urge are cancelled out by the slower gearshifts of its old-fashioned six-speed automatic transmission, but there are no complaints about the throaty growl of its 3.0-litre straight-six or the limpet-like traction of its four-wheel-drive system.

Point the V60 down a twisting back road, however, and it’s immediately obvious that it doesn’t have the poise and composure of the S4. The steering reacts sharply to inputs, but it doesn’t deliver much feedback. There’s also lots of body roll, and the brakes don’t have the strong bite and progression you’d expect.

Strangely, while the Volvo feels a bit soft and wallowy through corners, it has a surprisingly firm low-speed ride. Still, the addition of double-glazed side windows (£470) and plenty of soundproofing helps make it a refined long-distance cruiser.

The £37,245 V60 is also the cheaper car. Even with its £660 performance-boosting Polestar kit, it undercuts the Audi by £2,635. Beware, though, of its higher depreciation and bigger tax bills.

So while the Volvo is fast, refined and well priced, it’s not without its drawbacks.Volvo has a strong heritage in the world of high-performance estate cars. Ever since the rapid 850 T5 made its debut nearly 20 years ago, the company has specialised in models that mix explosive pace with family-friendly practicality.

The latest in this long line is the V60 T6 Polestar. By combining a race-tuned 324bhp turbocharged six-cylinder engine with grippy four-wheel drive and an uprated chassis, the Volvo provides a stern test for the Audi S4.

The V60 certainly doesn’t shout about its performance potential, though. Apart from its attractive five-spoke 18-inch alloys and subtle R Design bodykit, our T6 test car could be mistaken for an entry-level model.

As in the Audi, you don’t get many clues about the car’s potential inside, either. Apart from the R Design logos and aluminium pedals, the cabin is virtually unchanged from the basic model. You get a comfortable driving position and slickly designed dashboard, but the controls for the stereo and the £1,025 optional sat-nav are fiddly compared to the Audi’s MMI set-up. Plus, the V60 can’t match its rival for build quality or classy materials.

It trails in terms of practicality, too. There’s less head and legroom in the back than in the Audi, and there’s only 430 litres of boot space – 60 litres less than in the S4.

The V60’s performance doesn’t disappoint, though. While it was slightly slower than the Audi from 0-60mph at our test track – recording a time of 5.8 seconds – it was faster in all our in-gear tests. For instance, it needed only 2.7 seconds to go from 30-50mph in third; the Audi was three-tenths adrift.

On the road, there’s little to split our two contenders. The Volvo’s sharp throttle response and muscular mid-range urge are cancelled out by the slower gearshifts of its old-fashioned six-speed automatic transmission, but there are no complaints about the throaty growl of its 3.0-litre straight-six or the limpet-like traction of its four-wheel-drive system.

Point the V60 down a twisting back road, however, and it’s immediately obvious that it doesn’t have the poise and composure of the S4. The steering reacts sharply to inputs, but it doesn’t deliver much feedback. There’s also lots of body roll, and the brakes don’t have the strong bite and progression you’d expect.

Strangely, while the Volvo feels a bit soft and wallowy through corners, it has a surprisingly firm low-speed ride. Still, the addition of double-glazed side windows (£470) and plenty of soundproofing helps make it a refined long-distance cruiser.

The £37,245 V60 is also the cheaper car. Even with its £660 performance-boosting Polestar kit, it undercuts the Audi by £2,635. Beware, though, of its higher depreciation and bigger tax bills. So while the Volvo is fast, refined and well priced, it’s not without its drawbacks.

Details

Chart position: 2WHY: The V60 T6 is the latest fast estate from Volvo. With its sleek styling and Polestar power upgrade, it looks like it could be a match for the Audi in a sprint.

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