The V60 Polestar is the first model from Volvo’s high-performance division to be sold in New Zealand. Numbers are very strictly limited, but how special is it to drive?
Base price: $97,990.
Powertrain and performance: 3.0-litre turbo petrol five-cylinder, 258kW/500Nm, 6-speed automatic, four-wheel drive, Combined economy 10.2 litres per 100km, 0-100km/h 4.9 seconds.
Vital statistics: 4635mm long, 1484mm high, 2776mm wheelbase, luggage capacity 430 litres, fuel tank 68 litres, 20-inch alloy wheels on 245/35 tyres.
We like: Sheer performance, extensive Polestar modifications, value for money.
We don’t like: Feels old-school next to newer Volvos, not everybody might want Scott McLaughlin’s signature on their headrests.
How it rates: 9/10
WHAT DO I NEED TO KNOW? Heard of Polestar? Since 1996 it’s been Volvo’s official motorsport partner and has been making high-performance versions of the brand’s road cars since 2009. Earlier this year Volvo also purchased 100 percent of the Polestar road-car division, so there’s a lot more to come.
Still, we understand if the P-word is unfamiliar. It might be front and centre of the Volvo Polestar Racing (see, it’s in the name) Australian V8 Supercar effort with young Kiwi Scott McLaughlin, but Volvo has never actually sold a Polestar road car in New Zealand. Just some add-on enhancement packages.
At least until now. Local importer Motorcorp Distributors Limited (MDL) has brought in 10 examples of the S60 (sedan)/V60 (wagon) Polestar, partly inspired by the prominence of McLaughlin in V8 Supercars.
The Polestar cars are heavily modified: there are 50 individual upgrades and more than 240 new part numbers compared with the standard V60. But to that MDL has added a Scott McLaughlin signature package that includes unique body kit, wheels, grille, upholstery and a numbered plaque on the dashboard. Buy one and you also get a track day with McLaughlin.
WHAT’S IT LIKE TO DRIVE? The V60 Polestar has ferocious performance and some very serious chassis modifications. More about all of that in a minute.
But there’s an element of old-school about this car as well. As you might know, Volvo’s future lies exclusively in high-tech four-cylinder powerplants (which it calls Drive-E). Even its flagship, full-size XC90 sports utility vehicle is powered by four-pot engines. The same will be true of future Polestar cars.
But the V60 Polestar is something of a last blast, because it still has the familiar 3.0-litre turbo-petrol straight six under the bonnet. It’s been ramped up to 258kW/500kW and can propel the car to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. Serious stuff.
The all-wheel drive system has been recalibrated and can apportion up to 100 percent of power to the rear axle if required.
The suspension is even more intriguing. The shock absorbers are from Swedish specialist Ohlins and all four are manually adjustable – providing you’re prepared to crawl under the car to do so.
If this all sounds very track-day serious, it can be. But the Polestar is still supposed to be primarily a roadgoing machine and a versatile one at that. Volvo’s marketing blurb describes it as a “performance car for real life”.
In line with that everyday ethos – not to mention a near-$100k list price – the Polestar comes as standard with the full suite of Volvo driver-assistance and active safety technologies, such as autonomous braking, adaptive cruise control with collision warning, blind-spot alert and lane departure assistance.
IS IT EASY TO LIVE WITH? Volvos are legendary for their ergonomic good sense, superb seats and sheer practicality. You lose nothing of that in the transition to Polestar specification in the V60. In fact, you gain a few special-equipment items, such as a sports steering wheel, seats and pedals, illuminated gearlever (a rare example of Volvo showing off) and a unique instrument panel.
True, the V60 isn’t a boxy wagon in the traditional Volvo mould. Some space has been sacrificed for style and the luggage capacity of 430 litres isn’t a whole lot more than some family sedans. But the V60’s blend of passenger comfort and practical cabin design still make it a truly appealing family wagon.
SHOULD I BUY ONE? Perhaps the question should be can you buy one? The Polestar is a rare car indeed, with just 750 made globally this year and only 10 McLaughlin edition models on sale in New Zealand.
It’s a desirable car for many reasons: that exclusivity of course, but also the gloriously perverse character of a Volvo family car with searing performance.
It’s also likely to be a collectible machine, because this six-cylinder model will be one of the last of a breed.
- Blind spot warning: Yes
- Lane guidance: Yes
- Cruise control: Adaptive
- Automatic lights/wipers: Yes/yes
- Parking radar: Yes with camera
- Self-parking technology: No
- Head-up display: No
- Satellite navigation: Yes
- Keyless entry/start: Yes/Yes
- Stop-start: No
- Air conditioning: Dual climate
- Heated/ventilated seats: Yes/No
- Power seat adjustment/memory: Yes/No
- Leather upholstery: Yes
- Power boot or tailgate: Yes
- Split/folding rear seats: 60/40