Volvo V60 T8 Twin Engine AWD Polestar Engineered
The Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered is a fine example of electrification being used with a performance mindset. Considering the engine is only a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol the performance figures (sub-5 seconds 0-62mph) are pretty impressive. The V60 is already a vastly practical car, but the hybrid powertrain enhances this by enabling maximum performance and maximum economy. Versatility at its finest.
It has to be said that the current Volvo line-up is, on the whole, rather stylish. The current family design started with the XC90, a car which still looks good some six years after its introduction. Each subsequent model replacement followed the same design principles.
This generation of V60 is one of the newest Volvo models, and is one of my favourite. There’s just something about the estate body style that suits a performance Volvo, reminiscent of the BTCC days.
That’s why our choice of Polestar Engineered would be the V60, not the S60 saloon. It is sympathetic to the stereotype of a big, boxy estate car that is often associated with Volvo. But it embraces that image with a modern twist.
At the front you have the ‘Thor’s hammer’ LED daytime running lights, plenty of gloss black detailing – from the grille surrounds to the bumper inserts – which offered a nice contrast to the Crystal White paint of our test car.
To the side, you get wonderful two-tone silver and gloss black alloy wheels. Standard are 19-inch versions, with a larger, 20-inch version available as an optional extra. Our test car had the larger ones.
Behind this sit the rather large Brembo brakes. Calipers finished in bright gold are an eye-catching hint that this is a serious performance vehicle. The window surrounds, roof rails and door mirrors are also finished in gloss black.
At the rear, you get a roof spoiler, gloss black bumper inserts and two rather large exhaust tips. Sculpted tail lights give a rear silhouette that’s as recognisable as those front daytime running lights.
If the current Volvo exterior styling is good, the interior styling is even better. It is such a lovely place to be, with high-quality materials and an ergonomic design.
The front seats are sumptuous, with a sculpted design and significant side and leg bolsters. An extendable knee cushion provides extra comfort, allowing you to find the perfect setup behind the wheel.
The trim itself is part-leather, part-textile which, given the amount of leather in the cabin, helps keep a bit of contrast. There is leather on the dashboard, centre console and door trims, so the use of textile works well. In addition there are high-quality plastics, contrast stitching, gloss black detailing and aluminium finishers which add to the quality feel.
For the Polestar Engineered model you get gold seatbelts to match the brake calipers. It’s a very minute detail that acts as a subtle reminder of what this car is. It doesn’t need to feature carbon seats or stripped-back trim to be a performance machine. It does it the Volvo way; cleverly, and comfortably.
The fully-digital instrument cluster and portrait-oriented multimedia touchscreen are sufficient to make the V60 Polestar Engineered feel current, technologically-speaking. A greater degree of customisation of those dials – like you get in an Audi Virtual Cockpit – would be welcome. As would a slicker response on the multimedia screen. But these are not major complaints.
The overall build quality of the cabin is exceptional. There are no rattles in the trim. The feel of materials, such as the soft leather on the steering wheel, is exemplary. And there is a robustness to the switchgear that just gives off a high-quality feel. What’s more, it’s a quiet and relaxing place to be, with little noise penetrating the cabin.
There is only one engine choice in the V60 Polestar Engineered, and that’s the T8 twin-engine hybrid. It is Volvo’s most powerful powertrain, with a combined 405PS and whopping 670Nm of torque. The petrol engine produces 318PS and the Electric motor 87PS.
That’s enough to haul this slightly-hefty estate car from 0-62mph in a brisk 4.6 seconds and easily up to Volvo’s universally-applied 112mph top speed. Technically this is an All-Wheel Drive system, with the petrol engine driving the front wheels and the electric motor the rear wheels. You can feel the instantaneous shove from the electric motor and then the petrol engine kicks in to maintain that surge.
The figures make the performance of this car sound more exciting than the reality. Yes, it’s very quick, picking up speed like you wouldn’t believe. But it does so in a drama-free way. There is no raucous engine note, nor tyre-squealing hooligan-ness.
And that’s the only way in which the performance is let down. There is no sense of occasion like there was in the previous V60 Polestar. Perhaps Volvo could have introduced some artificial noise to create such occasion; with these systems becoming more convincing of late.
The transition between EV and Hybrid drive modes is very smooth, such that you don’t always notice the engine stopping and starting. You can select different drive modes; from Pure (EV) to Polestar Engineered (maximum power).
In Pure mode the V60 Polestar Engineered still drives well. Because of the instant torque from the electric motor it can still feel relatively nippy around town; despite the motor’s 87PS not sounding like much.
Some of you may recall our review of the Volvo V60 Polestar from a few years ago. And one thing we loved was the chassis and handling, with Öhlins dampers this was a modern-day reincarnation of the BTCC cars of old.
It gave us great delight, therefore, to learn that the V60 Polestar Engineered has been given a similar setup. Polestar Engineered is not just a badge, there is a great deal of work that goes into the chassis to make this car drive like no other Volvo.
It is designed to give the perfect balance of agility, control and comfort. Öhlins shock absorbers work together with Polestar Engineered front and rear springs to provide a ride with less roll and more grip when cornering. You can actually feel this from the driver’s seat. For a car weighing just over 2,000kg it corners extremely well.
Brakes are equally impressive: the V60 Polestar Engineered gets huge Brembo brakes. With 6-piston front calipers wrapped around 371mm discs, the V60 always has enough to pull up sharply.
The steering has a nice weight and is direct, although lacking in feel. And despite the front wheels having to deal with the full 320PS of the petrol engine, grip is surprisingly good. It isn’t quite as good as a ‘proper’ AWD system, like the one in the old V60 Polestar, but it’s fine in the dry.
The end result is a car that feels rather playful; wanting you to throw it into the bends and having a composed setup to deal with it, then hurl you out the other side.
None of this comes at the expense of comfort, mind. The beauty of the V60 Polestar Engineered is that it remains quiet and relaxing on a long motorway drive. It really is well balanced.
The other Ace up the Volvo’s sleeve is that in addition to being able to pin you back in your seat, and cause significant upset at the traffic lights, it can also be very fuel-efficient.
The official combined fuel consumption on the WLTP cycle is 113.0-128.4mpg, but it’s important to remember that this is a plug-in hybrid. If you have a full charge, and run in EV mode, then recharge again, you will never use a drop of fuel.
Conversely, if you run the battery down and drive everywhere solely on petrol power you might achieve 30mpg at best. Therefore it is very hard to come up with a ‘combined’ figure that applies to everyone.
For someone who rarely travels long distances, the V60 T8 Polestar Engineered could save you significant money on petrol, provided you make the effort to keep it charged. And since the electric motor provides 90bhp there’s plenty of incentive to do that.
CO2 emissions are 50g/km on the WLTP cycle. This means that first year VED is £0, subsequent VED is £145 (plus the VED surcharge in years 2-6 of £480). But it is even more important to company car users. The BIK% on a V60 T8 Polestar Engineered is just 11%. That makes this car extremely appealing to company car users, who can experience all this power and practicality for a very low tax charge.
Pure-electric range on this car is quoted as 31.1 – 36.7 miles. Actual range will vary, but expect to see just shy of 30 miles in the real world.
The Volvo V60 is a vastly practical car. It has ample boot space, a spacious cabin, and a host of clever tech to make life easier. But does the T8 Hybrid powertrain make the V60 more or less practical?
For starters, Volvo has been very clever about how it has integrated the batteries on the T8. They lie along the spine of the chassis, but within the wheelbase of the car.
So whilst you lose some of the centre console storage, the 529 litres of boot space is undiminished from the standard car, which is remarkable considering they are sufficient to provide over 30 miles of range.
And that’s another thing which bolsters practicality – the Hybrid powertrain. If you keep it topped up at home (a full charge takes around 5.5 hours on a domestic 3-pin) you can reap all the benefits of an EV for popping to the shops or doing the school run.
But you are not prevented from going further thanks to the 60 litre fuel tank. What’s more, you can use the petrol engine to charge the battery at the push of a button to charge while you drive. It’s brilliant.
Another ticked box for us is the towing capabilities. Most EVs, and some hybrids, do not have much towing capacity; if any at all. The V60 Polestar Engineered can tow 2,000kg braked and 750kg unbraked, meaning this is still a viable choice for those who need to tow.
The versatility of the V60 Polestar Engineered is to be admired, and its use of the T8 Hybrid powertrain is inspired. This is a car you could happily live with.
As a model, the Volvo V60 is generously equipped as standard. All models get a comprehensive safety package, which helps the V60 achieve a 5-star Euro NCAP rating. This package includes City Safety with pedestrian, cyclist and large animal detection, with front collision warning and fully automatic braking and steering support.
In addition you get Oncoming Lane Mitigation which provides steering assistance if you veer out of your lane into oncoming traffic, and Run-off Road protection, which tightens the front seatbelts should you inadvertently leave the road.
Creature comforts are not forgotten either, with all V60 models benefitting from dual-zone climate control, power-operated tailgate, rear parking sensors, cruise control with speed limiter and the 9-inch touchscreen infotainment system with Sensus navigation. Heated front seats are standard across the V60 range.
The Polestar Engineered is based off the R-Design specification, which features a sporty exterior and interior design package. It also adds keyless entry and drive, privacy glass, handsfree tailgate operation and an auto-dimming rear-view mirror.
To this R-Design specification, the Polestar Engineered models gain that wonderful tailored instrument panel, power driver seat with memory function, the Polestar Engineered Chassis, Polestar optimisation for the engine/gearbox, and premium sound by Harmon Kardon. There’s even a heated steering wheel for those colder days.
Overall the specification of the V60 Polestar Engineered are very good – but there are still a few option packs available should you wish to bolster this further. More on that in a moment.
Value For Money
It’s fair to say that experiencing the thrills and refinement of the V60 Polestar Engineered does not come cheap. Whilst the cheapest V60 in the range – the B3 Momentum – is £34,870, the T8 Polestar Engineered starts from £52,200.
And that’s before you get to the options list. For a car that is generously equipped as standard, there is still a hefty options list, and our test car had many of these options fitted.
There were some of the ‘simpler’ options – such as 20-inch alloy wheels (£850), Premium Crystal White paint (£975), Premium sound by Bowers & Wilkins (£1,000) and smartphone integration including Apple CarPlay and Android Auto (£300).
Some of the packs are a little more expensive. The Driver Assist pack costs £1,600 and includes Pilot Assist semi-autonomous motorway driving, auto-dimming rear-view and door mirrors, blind spot monitoring, cross traffic alert with auto-brake and rear collision mitigation.
The Climate pack is £375 and comprises head-up display and heated outer-rear seats.
The £500 Power Seat pack includes a power passenger seat with memory function, and power folding rear headrests.
Finally the Lounge pack (£1,400) adds an opening panoramic roof with electronic sun blind and an advanced interior air cleaner.
Overall this car is very good value for money, considering it offers a complete package of performance, practicality and efficiency. Some of the options are better value than others, so it will be up to you to decide what you really need and what can be omitted. That will be true of any rivals too, so the Volvo is not alone in this regard.
Facts and Figures
|Engine||2.0-litre, 4-cylinder turbocharged and supercharged petrol with 65kW electric motor|
|Max power||405PS at 5,800 – 6,100rpm|
|Max torque||670Nm at 4,500rpm|
|Drivetrain||8-speed automatic transmission, hybrid four-wheel drive|
|Fuel tank size||60 litres and 10.4kWh battery|
|Fuel consumption||113.0 – 128.4 mpg combined, WLTP|
|CO2 emissions||50 g/km WLTP|
|Towing capacity||2,000kg braked / 750kg unbraked|
|Luggage capacity||529 litres|
|NCAP rating||5 stars|
|Price as tested||£59,200|