I tested, and loved, the previous Volvo V60 Polestar in 2016. That one had the 3.0-litre straight six engine which was an absolute gem. I will admit to being a little reserved about the new model. Sure, it has more power than the last iteration, and a better gearbox. But it was the 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine which caused me worry. Would it really be able to maintain the character – and noise – of the model I fell in love with? There was only one way to find out…
Looks – 8/10
The current V60 has been around since 2014, and a new model is expected at some point this year. For now though, there is a 2018 model of the Volvo V60 Polestar. It looks somewhat familiar, but look a little harder and you will spot carbon fibre detailing on the mirrors, front splitter and aero sills. Five colours are available, including an exclusive Cyan Racing Blue. The 20-inch alloy wheels have a glossy black diamond cut finish. The exhaust tips of the stainless steel performance exhaust wear the ‘Polestar’ name with pride. All in all, the Volvo V60 Polestar is understated. You have to look hard to suss out this is the performance model; and I think that’s a great thing. Sure, the Cyan Racing Blue is a bold colour, but the body lines are sleek and reserved. My test car was finished in black, and I dare say most people walking past wouldn’t look at it twice.
The interior of the Volvo V60 Polestar is largely similar to the ‘regular’ V60, but there are some really neat touches. I love the use of alcantara on the steering wheel, seats and gear gaiter; it brings a racing dynamic. And speaking of the seats, they are as comfortable as you would expect from a Volvo, whilst also being bucketed and supportive. There are some Polestar badges dotted around: on the Sensus screen when you start the car, embossed on the seats, and on the gear selector. Don’t get me wrong, this is a nicely-finished, premium-feeling interior, but it just feels a little dated. Especially when you consider the cabin quality of, say, the Volvo XC60. If I was about to spend £50,000 on a Volvo, I would probably expect a little more.
Handling/Performance – 10/10
The new engine in the Volvo V60 Polestar is a 2.0-litre, turbocharged petrol engine. It may be smaller – and have two fewer cylinders – than before, but on paper you soon forget it. Power is up from 350PS to 367PS, with torque dropping slightly by 30Nm to 470Nm. The new car also has a new 8-speed Geartronic gearbox. That results in a 0-62mph sprint of 4.8 seconds and on to a limited top speed of 155mph. Thanks to a Polestar sports exhaust, the charismatic noise remains. Flicking the car into sports mode opens up flaps in the exhaust to unleash its full song: it parps on the up-changes and blips on the way down. And, when you’re done being a hooligan for the day, you simply put it back into drive and carry on.
The Volvo V60 Polestar handles much better than you would expect a big estate car to. The main reason for this is that the Polestar gets Ohlins adjustable shock absorbers and dampers. I dare say most, if not all, will never be adjusted. But they don’t need to be either. The standard setup is a perfect blend of comfort, for motorway and city driving, and composed, for when you’re going more quickly on a bumpier B-road. To help bring this 1,773kg car to a swift halt, the Polestar is fitted with Brembo 6-piston calipers and 370mm floating discs. The steering is weighty and direct, with decent feedback as to what the front wheels are doing. Rounding off the Volvo V60 Polestar package is an AWD system that ensures you can put down all the power whenever you want, even in the wet.
Economy – 10/10
The new 2.0-litre engine, is a more fuel-efficient one. The 8-speed gearbox helps, as does start/stop technology. Combined fuel consumption is 34.9mpg, which represents a big improvement over the old car’s 27.7mpg. What’s more this isn’t an unobtainable figure. In fact, if you keep your right foot at bay – and I know that’s hard – then you can better these figures. CO2 emissions of 186g/km are a big improvement on the 237g/km of the previous car. First year VED is £800, but the old car would be £1,700 on the new regime! Gulp! As the Volvo V60 Polestar costs more than £40,000, it is also hit with the ‘expensive car’ tax of £310, meaning that subsequent years’ VED is £450 for five years. Not ideal, but then all of its rivals will be the same, so I can’t really knock the Volvo down for it.
Practicality – 10/10
So we’ve established that the Volvo V60 Polestar is a capable performance car. But what’s it like to live with every day? Well, the boot is big enough for the family Labrador, or the weekly big shop. The cabin is roomy, both front and back. And Volvo has taken the approach of throwing all the gadgets and options at the Polestar. There are no options per se: only accessories. The standard specification is comprehensive, and to list it here would use up far too much space. However I can give you a snippet: heated front and outer rear seats. Heated steering wheel. Keyless entry and drive. Sensus Connect with Premium Sound by Harmon Kardon. Adaptive cruise control. Reversing camera. All standard on the Volvo V60 Polestar. The result is a car that’s brilliant to live with. It’s a practical family car that will keep you calm and relaxed on any journey, whatever the traffic and road conditions may be.
Fun – 10/10
Some of you out there may find the notion of a Volvo estate car inherently dreary. But I would argue this is far from the truth. I mean for one, consider April 1994 when two liveried Volvo 850s lined up at Thruxton, instantly changing the British Touring Car Championship. Fast forward to 2018, and this V60 Polestar has some of that same touring car pedigree. It has the performance to kick you in the back. The Ohlins suspension works on the track, and the exhaust note makes you feel like you’re in a race car. What really makes you smile is the shock factor, because the subtlety of the Volvo V60 Polestar leaves fellow motorists unaware of its performance capabilities. Most people pulling up against you at the lights are in for an embarrassing outcome, and I loved it.
After spending a week with the Volvo V60 Polestar, I definitely wasn’t ready to hand it back. This car has successfully dispelled all my reservations and won me over once again. The new engine is every bit as charismatic as the old 3.0-litre, but with more power, an improved gearbox and better fuel consumption. To see for yourself head over to the Volvo website. The are two problems with the V60. Firstly, the latest Volvo models (XC90, S90 and the likes) have much, much nicer interiors. The V60 actually feels a little dated inside. Secondly, is the price. The Volvo V60 Polestar costs £50,765 on the road. That is quite pricy, in fact it is more expensive than both the Mercedes C43 AMG Estate and BMW 340i Touring. Having said that, it wouldn’t stop me owning one. The Volvo V60 Polestar is, for me, the ultimate Q-car. Unsuspecting motorists; watch out!