Volvo S60 Polestar review: When safety meets performance, this happens
A 367hp sports sedan – that’s what happens when the Swedish safety experts let their hair down. Here’s the Volvo S60 Polestar full throttle reviewautos Updated: Apr 22, 2017 11:59 IST
Polestar is certainly not a name most Indians will have heard before, not even the enthusiasts. It isn’t quite as recognisable a performance divisions of luxury carmakers, like BMW’s M-sport, Audi’s RS or Mercedes-Benz’ AMG, but in essence, that’s what it is. It makes fast road cars for the Swedish automaker. Currently, Polestar just makes two models – the S60 Polestar sedan, and its station wagon sibling, the V60 – of which the sedan has made it to our shores.
Only available in three colours – black, white and this signature Rebel Blue – this low-slung car really stands out with its 20-inch wheels and functional aerodynamic bodywork. The addenda on the exterior really complements the S60’s sleek shape, which, for one of the oldest cars in the segment, still looks amazing after all these years.
Inside, there’s quite a bit of carbon-fibre trim, blue contrast stitching and a lot of Alcantara trim everywhere – from the seats to the door pads to the steering wheel. Other than that, the cabin is the same as the standard S60, which means it’s rather well-designed, but is also starting to show its age. The digital dials still look cool, but the infotainment system is now decidedly last-gen, especially if you’ve ever used the new touchscreen in the S90 and XC90. Still, it’s a comfortable place to be. Rather than being firm and punishing like on some sports sedans, the heavily bolstered seats are supportive and superbly plush.
What’s also worth noting is that though this is the performance variant, it’s still a Volvo, and so you get every single safety feature as the regular S60, including Blind Spot Warning and radar-guided emergency braking. It’s also got all-wheel drive, which is just as much about providing a safety net as it is getting the most out of the powertrain.
As part of Volvo’s commitment to using only four-cylinder engines in its cars, power for the S60 Polestar comes from a 2.0-litre, four-cylinder engine. However, it is supercharged and turbocharged, and so it produces a healthy 367hp, and is capable of propelling the sedan from 0-100kph in a claimed 4.7sec. Power gets through all four wheels via an eight-speed automatic gearbox.
As with most engines that use both supercharging and turbocharging, the supercharger is there to keep the engine responsive at low revs, while the turbocharger takes over thereafter, once it’s spooled up. It’s a very effective combination, and there’s very little hesitation when moving off the line. Also, this motor makes a nice, unique sound. In Sport mode, flaps in the exhaust open up for a much louder rumble, and you always have the shrill shriek of the supercharger somewhere in the mix.
While there’s ample power on tap, you always get the sense that the four-cylinder motor was working hard. For driving flat out, a four-cylinder engine simply can’t match the effortlessness of a higher-displacement six-cylinder motor. Still, it had to be said that you’ll never be wanting for power.
The suspension on the S60 Polestar is quite interesting too. The regular car’s entire setup has been scrapped for a set of high-performance adjustable Ohlins springs and dampers. However, unlike modern cars, where you can change suspension setting with the press of a button, the suspension on the Volvo is only manually adjustable. This means you have to open the bonnet to adjust the front suspension, and jack the car up to access the setup at the rear, and then twist a knob at each corner. This seems like a lot of tedium for most Indian buyers, but Polestar engineers claim that the ‘comfort’ setup would be fine for most situations. Furthermore, only those who take the car to race-tracks need ever adjust them; and these are the types of owners that wouldn’t mind doing so.
- Engine 1,969cc, four-cylinder, turbocharged and supercharged
- Power 367hp at 6000rpm
- Torque 470Nm at 3100rpm
- Gearbox Eight-speed automatic
- 0-100kph in 4.7seconds
- Price Rs 52.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi)
Don’t get surprised if you get tossed about on the S60 Polestar’s stiffest ‘track’ suspension setup, but handling in this setup is incredible. Going by the regular S60, handling even in the comfort setup, should be quite tied down. The only drawback is that the car feels heavy at all times.
All in all, the S60 Polestar seems to be positioned quite uniquely. The power and performance put it in the league of mid-range models like the Audi S5 and Mercedes-AMG C43, but the way it drives, puts it on par with more diehard sports sedans like the BMW M3 and the Mercedes-AMG C63. And then the price – Rs 52.5 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi) – puts it right back into conventional luxury sedan territory; it’s just about Rs 10 lakh more than the regular petrol and diesel rivals. For the performance on offer, it’s incredible value and a nice niche offering for those who want something different from the usual crop of German offerings. The only catch here is that Volvos only bringing 30 units to India for 2017.
(In arrangement with Autocar India)