WR TV: 2015.5 Volvo V60 Polestar

By Bradley Iger

January 06, 2015

Photos by Felix Salazar
This week we’ve got the keys to the Volvo V60 Polestar. That last word in the title is a pivotal one – unlike the “Polestar Optimized” trim, this one get the full-blooded performance treatment. Think of Polestar as Volvo’s answer to BMW’s M or Mercedes-Benz’s AMG – a special group of engineers goes through the car from top to bottom in the interest of bolstering performance throughout the car and adds a dose of visual presence to fit the car’s new purpose. With only 80 examples of the V60 Polestar earmarked for the US in 2015, it’s not a wagon you’re likely to see on the road very often, but it is one that may foretell the potential for future Volvo products.
The V60 Polestar is powered by a twin turbocharged 3.0-liter DOHC inline six cylinder motor which outputs 345 horsepower and 369 pound-feet of torque. Not prodigious numbers by today’s standards but hooked to a six-speed automatic that routes the power to all four corners, it’s enough to get the 4000-pound V60 from zero to sixty miles per hour in a respectable 4.6 seconds and on to an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph.
Straight line speed isn’t the V60 Polestar’s top priority though – handling is. To that end, Polestar engineers have fit the V60 with springs that are 80 percent stiffer than the stock V60’s, dampers co-developed with Öhlins, uprated bushings and mounts, and a set of Z-rated Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. Bringing things to a halt in a hurry is also dispatched with ease by the V60 Polestar's six-piston Brembo brakes.
Since those Öhlins dampers are not adaptive in the way the dampers you’d find in, say, a BMW M5 are, Polestar engineers sought to strike a balance between flat cornering and everyday comfort. While there’s noticeably more jostling to be experienced over rough roads than what you’d find in an everyday V60, the ride remains largely free of harshness during normal driving and offers minimal body motion when pushed hard.
The electrically-assisted steering on hand here retains a similar level of numbness that we’ve experienced in other cars that have ditched hydraulic setups, but the three different levels of steering weight on offer help you to dial in a setting that can help you improve your precision and minimize the need for mid-corner corrections.
Inside, the V60 Polestar sports much of the handsome design we commended in the standard V60 last year, including the sport seats which offer solid lateral support while remain comfortable for long hauls. The V60 Polestar also gets the latest infotainment technologies on offer from Volvo, which turns out to be a bit of a mixed bag. The 650-watt stereo and sounds great and the 7-inch in-dash display is easy to navigate and happy to quickly pair with your Bluetooth devices – the latter being still a somewhat rare occurrence in modern vehicles. However, use of Sensus Connect, which includes Volvo On-Call, a service similar to GM’s On-Star, was a less pleasant experience.
After a surprisingly complex setup procedure, which includes the use of a mobile app to relay information to you about your car and allow you to remotely start the car and do other basic functions, the On-Call service never really operated as planned. The first night the car sent a notification saying the theft alarm had been triggered, though checking on the vehicle showed it safe and sound in the garage where we’d left it. Fifteen minutes later, we received a call from a Volvo On-Call rep, who was also calling to tell us the alarm had been triggered. Subsequent tests of the apps functions, like flashing the car’s lights via the app – when they did work – took 3-5 minutes to yield the desired result. It’s clear that this technology (or perhaps just the companion app which serves as the remote link to the service) still needs a little work.
Technology snafus notwithstanding, the V60 Polestar shows that Volvo is putting some serious consideration into playing in the sports-luxury market, and this car is a solid step in that direction. At an as-tested price of $61,835, the V60 Polestar does face some pretty stiff competition from both sports sedans and sport-oriented SUVs at similar price points, though it has the sport wagon market largely to itself in the US. Whether Volvo plans to step into the fray with both feet still remains unclear, but after a week of living with the V60 Polestar, we certainly hope that they do. Let’s go for a ride:


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