Volvo S60 Polestar First Drive


Say the name Polestar and a little tingle runs down my spine. Now say Volvo S60 Polestar and the tingle is accompanied by a smile! I drove the S60 Polestar a while ago, but saved up the review since the car has taken its time getting to India. First up for the uninitiated – Polestar is the name of Volvo’s performance car division that has its roots in the Polestar Racing team that the Swedish company used to support. Volvo officially acquired the Polestar Performance division in 2015. So now its souped-up models get the Polestar suffix along with the turquoise blue square logo. So why this little information nugget? Well as I said Volvo is finally bringing us the S60 Polestar after a long wait. We were initially meant to get it at the end of 2016, but I am glad in a way that it is the 2017 model that will debut in India next week. And that is because it carries the latest powertrain – a bold move from Volvo. The S60 Polestar was always powered by an uprated T6 petrol (inline 6 with 345 bhp engine), the new 2017 model follows Volvo’s recent strategy of abandoning the 6 cylinder and keeping all cars 4 cylinder. Remember even it’s XC90 and S90 flagships have just the 2.0 4-cylinder units. The new engine is badged Drive-E and makes the S60 Polestar around 20 kgs lighter for the 2017 model.

2017 volvo s60 polestar

2017 Volvo S60 Polestar is around 20 kgs lighter than the older model

So I drove the T6 version of the S60 Polestar – since it was a 2016 model. I got a good amount of time with – spending 3 days driving it on highway and in city traffic in New York and Washington D.C. – in the United States. The car was dressed in the trademark rebel blue – a colour associated with Polestar badge cars since it matches the logo’s bright blue too! So it certainly got heads turning everywhere I went! Now the distance between NYC and DC is about 60 kms (one way), but I actually managed to clock around 900 kms on this car overall. And boy was it an absolute hoot. You see the advantage the S60 Polestar has is that it is based on the second generation S60 – and so has very compact proportions. It allows the car to really get around! The 3-litre engine is very responsive, but the good news is that the new 2.0 gets a bigger turbocharger (than the regular 2.0 T6 in Volvo’s range) and also a supercharger and gives you 367 horses! Back to the other mechanicals then which luckily are mostly common on the car that is coming to us.

volvo s60 polestar

The Volvo S60 Polestar comes with a new 2.0 gets a bigger turbocharger

The S60 Polestar I drove sat on low profile 20-inch wheels. In India we will get a different spec no doubt. The freeway ride (especially on the mostly concrete sections) was therefore a tad hard, but the car’s athletic response and overall performance more than made up for it. You see the big advantage is also the BorgWarner all-wheel-drive system that is designed and calibrated to send more of the car’s torque to the rear wheels. This gives you terrific handling and very sporty cornering. Switch to Sport mode and the car’s exhaust comes to life and sings a powerful symphony! If the rebel blue didn’t do it the exhaust note certainly will get everyone’s attention! And the car is quick indeed – it can do 0-100 in 4.5 seconds or so! The acceleration though is not its sole USP. The advantage of the S60 Polestar is that in many ways it is a wolf in sheep’s clothing (sure a rather bright blue wolf if you opt for this colour!) – yes way more than an M3 or RS4 can ever be. It is more affordable in most markets, and is also the subtler everyday sedan-turned-speedster. We will have to wait and see how Volvo prices it here though given it is going to be a direct import like all Volvos. The styling changes are not in your face of altogether aggressive. Besides the Polestar badge it also gets a different bumper, sportier skirting and splitter, the wheels and air intakes are also edgier. The biggest difference though is the stiffer suspension that you will notice right away.

2017 volvo s60 polestar interior

The Volvo S60 Polestar’s cabin comes with some minor changes

While the car I drove sat lower than a regular S60, it makes sense for me to wait and see the final configuration that Volvo brings to India – and that will tell us more about the ride height, wheel size, tyre spec and final output figures too. Volvo plan to sell about 1500 of these worldwide and so India will get a small allocation for sure. So treat this as fair warning – if you want one – you may need to get to one fairly quickly! Because I can tell you one thing – it will drive away from you a lot quicker!