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The Volvo Polestar

One of the most sensational performances Volvo's ever produced. This car is clearly something special
Once you’re on a decent driving road with the Polestar it starts getting really exciting

Let’s face it – if I said ‘Volvo V60 Polestar’ to you it probably wouldn’t mean much more than a new V60 with a few ‘go faster’ add-ons. Yet you’d be so so wrong! The Volvo V60 Polestar you see pictured here is one of the most sensational performance Volvos ever produced. Period.


Polestar Performance Engineering have been Volvo’s official motorsport partner since 1996. Beginning with the Volvo 850 at the birth of the Swedish Touring Car Championship, Volvo/Polestar have since raced with S40. S60. C30 and more recently the new S60. Now Polestar are fully responsible for the global development, preparation and running of Volvo’s official motorsport programme.

The Personal Touch

We met the massively enthusiastic Polestar Team at the official UK launch of the car in May 2014. Polestar work exclusively with Volvo as motorsport partners so no divided loyalties here! What strikes you the most is their enthusiasm, a great bunch of people excited about the opportunity Volvo have given them to produce the ultimate road car.

In this world of corporate faces around big brands it was great to meet the small dedicated Polestar team. Indeed, my co driver colleague and I reflected on the joint appeal of the V60 Polestar, being a unique and truly usable high performance car, (no doubt to be purchased by a selective group of discerning enthusiasts), and to have an accessible relationship to the people behind it. As an owner, I’d like that; there’s something uniquely personal about it, especially if you are making the choice of investing in a car like this over its mainstream competitors from BMW, Audi, Mercedes and the like.

The real McCoy

So certainly, as we listened to the presentation on the Polestar the enthusiasm grew. This car is clearly something special, so the keener readers amongst us will want the low-down on the detail.

The standard V60 R is a good place to start. A six cylinder turbo charged T6 engine mated to a six speed automatic gearbox and four wheel drive, achieving an already impressive ride and handling package even before  the Polestar gurus laid a hand on it. From there the transformation begins; a stiffer chassis ad 80% stiffer springs mated to Ohlins high performance shock absorbers and 20 inch Polestar wheels. The brakes are uprated to 371 millimeter ventilated front discs and six Brembo calipers. The engine gets a new twin-scroll turbo and intercooler, moving its power up to 350 bhp and generating an impressive 500 NM of torque. It’s complemented by a sharp throaty sound, courtesy of a new 2.5” stainless steel active exhaust.

The recalibrated six-speed automatic gearbox features a new paddle shift system adjusted to maximise the high speed acceleration characteristics generated by the increased power from the engine, and complemented by the added grip and stability advantage of four wheel drive.

What is visible to the eye has been treated in a highly subtle but understated way. Look at the Polestar and it sits chunkier, meatier, lower than the standard car; you can just tell that it is very fast and very capable, without the visible fuss associated with Street Speed Burners in general; a grown-ups car. It amounts to a new front splitter, rear spoiler and diffuser, with subtle hush-hush Polestar logos dotted here and there. Proper modest – until you start the engine………

On road and track

And that’s when all the messages change. You may be able to use it for family holidays, shopping and business but believe me this is no ordinary car. The message starts with the deep but refined rasp of the exhaust, soon followed by a getaway urgency whetting the appetite of the right foot for more. Not much more though as you will have already built up a speed, so easily and unfussed.

Negotiating through traffic there is little experiential difference to the standard car – with low speed responsiveness and maneuverability simply to a matter of the car obeying your every command without fuss. It’s when you dig deeper that the tone of the discussion changes and you start to learn about the substantial depths of this car, just how deep you can dig, and how much more you need to dig into your abilities to exploit it. Once you’re on a decent driving road with the Polestar it starts getting really exciting……and you turn into a petrol head.

There’s a nice long straight ahead, I manage two thirds throttle before the road bends and I have to back off – wow…there’s a massive surge of acceleration to that target yet the Polestar feels totally planted and safe, the brakes easily scrubbing off the speed and enabling flat and what feels like millimeter perfect directional turn-in. The compact size of the V60, the power, the strengthening up of the chassis and suspension combined with the added security of 4 wheel drive make this car hungry  for keen driving, and you really do notice the difference of every bit of mechanical and technical re-tuning in sheer driving pleasure. In fact it is one of the best performance packages in this sector I have driven, even compared to the big boys of BMW, Audi, and Mercedes – believe me, that is a big complement.

Champions unite

It took Thed Borg, the current Swedish Touring Car Champion in a stint on the Top Gear test track to show me just how good this car is. We had this car going flat out into the tightest bends provoking controllable understeer and oversteer with a bit of braking kick at leisure with total control. You feel as if you could put the kettle on and sip a cup of tea whist hurling the Polestar around the circuit at break neck speed, so composed and safe this car is.

I almost forgot that safety had always been Volvo’s forte, but this Polestar is a new take on the concept of thrilling high speed performance with safety too. Trust Volvo to nab that one in the bag, but hey there’s no safer way to get high behind the steering wheel of a motor car.

The Volvo V60 Polestar

0-60 mph: 4.8 seconds. 0-120 mph: 16.7 seconds. Top Speed: 155 mph (electronically limited). Engine: 2953 cc, 6 Cylinder Inline T6.


- Kevin Haggarthy