Volvo V60 Polestar is a Volvo wagon that’s like no other.
Volvo and their eccentric friends at Polestar have turned their attention to the humble V60 wagon as part of the MY15 update. The V60 Polestar joins the S60 Polestar sedan as part of this year’s performance car line-up, and both build upon the strengths of the MY14 version, while adding more sophistication that includes: more stylish alloy wheels, various improvements to the cabin and perhaps most importantly, a new exhaust system.
What we like:
- 2015 changes
- Build quality
- Added practicality
Not so much:
- It’s not cheap
- No shortcut-style controls for adjustable steering and suspension
- Absence of power tailgate
- Sunroof and sunglasses holder cost options
- Not a lot else
Price and Equipment
Volvo has thrown virtually everything in its tool chest at the Polestar twins. Standard equipment includes: Polestar Brembo brakes with six piston brake calipers; 371 x 32mm floating and ventilated discs; Brembo HP1000 pads at the front and 302 x 22mm ventilated discs; Brembo HP2000 pads at the rear. Those brakes clamp new 20 inch alloy wheels wrapped with Michelin Pilot super sport tyres. A space saver is provided for the spare.
Polestar has tuned the chassis and Öhlins, two-way adjustable shock absorbers with road and track settings are at each corner. There is also a strut brace with carbonfibre enforcement to help keep the handling rigid.
A new active exhaust and speed sensitive steering complete the driving experience.
Safety hasn’t been neglected either. Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Cross Traffic Alert, Driver Alert System (Lane Departure Warning, Lane Keeping Aid, Active High Beam Control, Forward Collision Warning and Road Sign Information), Adaptive Cruise Control with Collision Warning with Full Autobrake, Front and rear parking sensors, Auto dim rear view mirror and side mirrors are all standard.
Inside, there are heated Polestar seats front and rear (minus the centre seat), a heated steering wheel, a nifty function that folds down rear headrests to increase visibility, special sports pedals which part of the MY15 update, as well as satellite navigation and a Harman/Kardon sound system.
The interior is probably the one aspect of the MY15 refresh that has undergone the most change. All changes are minor, but contribute significantly to the Polestar’s more mature character. The fantastic Polestar-embossed sports seats with Nubuck trim remain, but there are now Nubuck inserts in the doors and on the steering wheel, which is now heated.
Previous Polestar variants shared the same centre stack trim with cooking R-Design models, but they now feature a racier carbon fibre insert.
Black is the dominant colour throughout the V60 Polestar’s cabin, accentuated by bright blue striping throughout-this colour matches that of the Rebel Blue exterior-and some bright work. Some felt that further enhancements should have been made to the upper portion of the V60 Polestar’s dash to further separate it from cheaper models.
Similarly, a suede style roof lining would have worked well to complement the rest of the interior.
The new sports pedals which subtly included the four-pointed Polestar logo are a nice touch.
The V60 features Volvo’s Sensus Connect Infotainment system, which pumps sound out through 12 Harman/Kardon speakers. The system is also inclusive of a CD, DVD player and USB, auxiliary and Bluetooth connectivity. An internet browser with a number of built-in music applications is also available, which can be operated through a smartphone.
Despite the sound system’s high-end manufacturer, array of speakers and multitude of different settings, overall sound quality was a little dull and underwhelming and lacked aural sparkle.
All information is displayed on a quality seven-inch colour screen, which is perfectly aligned to the driver’s vision.
Head, leg and shoulder room is generally very good all-round and those sports seats offer exceptional support, while being extremely comfortable. New to the updated version are seat heaters for the outermost rear passengers, should they become chilly.
Boot space is rated at 430 litres with the seats up, and, a revision from previous Polestar models is that the spare wheel lives under the cargo floor, rather than above it. The one-piece tailgate had to be closed by hand, as a power tailgate system wasn’t fitted to our test car. A bizarre omission, considering that such a feature is fitted on the considerably (nearly $40k) cheaper XC60 Luxury.
Engine and Transmission
The V60 Polestar is rapid, completing the 0-100km/h sprint in five seconds, a tenth of a second slower than its S60 sister. It’s also rather loud. The previous S60 Polestar was by no means quiet, but the new active exhaust restrains the engine note from an angry snarl from low in the rev range to a red-blooded and enraged howl once you have your foot mashed into the thick, quality carpet and that digital tachometer swings passed the 4,000 rpm mark.
The resulting noise is epic and aurally delicious. You just want to push it harder and harder-within the speed limits of your local state or territory, of course.
Considerable engine noise is transmitted into the cabin and we did have the chance to sample the newer S60 briefly, and we can report that the V60 is noisier inside due to its more open cabin layout. Some testers felt that the V60 was too noisy inside, although it did quieten down once cruising speed had been reached.
Such poke and noise are of course provided by the engine, which is the 3.0 litre turbo intercooled straight-six which has been carried over from previous Polestar models and it spits out 258kW @ 5250rpm and 500Nm@3000-4750rpm.
Power delivery is smooth and brisk, with minimal turbo lag and delay from standstill. Enter the engine’s 3000-4750rpm sweet spot, and power is served up in a frenzied rush a delivery method that is utterly addictive.
The six speed Polestar fettled auto has also been retained and shifts are quick and seamless and enthusiastic types may want to use the steering wheel mounted paddles, which Volvo say speed up shift times.
A combined fuel economy figure of 10.3 litres per 100 kilometres has been quoted, but we found that 11.5 is more probable.
Ride and Handling
Stable and grippy. Two words that sum up the V60 Polestar’s handling. It turns in smoothly, with the adjustable steering’s default “medium” setting providing accurate and tactile feedback. The default setting is a little too heavy when low speed manoeuvring, and can only be changed by trawling through the car’s computer system menus.
Further, we found the “low” steering resistance setting was too light and the “high” steering resistance preset was too heavy. So perhaps “medium” truly is a happy medium, although it would be more logical for Volvo to place shortcut keys on the dashboard, a la Hyundai i30.
Despite the V60’s high levels of body control and rigidity, the ride in “road” setting manages to be very firm yet comfortable and only becomes choppy when the road surface disintegrates into pockmarked rubbish.
Should you wish to take your V60 Polestar onto a track, those Öhlins shocks will need to be adjusted manually, as there aren’t any electronic controls inside the cabin.
All V60 models are awarded a five-star ANCAP safety rating, and safety gear includes: Volvo’s City Safety; Dynamic Stability and Traction Control (DSTC); Advanced Stability Control (ASC); Anti-lock Brake System (ABS), Electronic Brake Distribution (EBD); Emergency Brake Assist (EBA) and Advance Stability Control (ASC).
Passive safety equipment encompasses driver and front passenger dual-stage airbags front; two full length Inflatable Curtain airbags; Side Impact Protection System (SIPS) including SIPS airbags in front seats; Whiplash Protection System (WHIPS).
A rear parking camera with a zoom function and guidance lines to make reversing as pain free as possible. While the two viewing options are innovative and beneficial, image clarity should be sharper.
The V60 is equipped with a button on the dashboard which folds down the rear headrests to maximise visibility. You’ll need to warn passengers before they jump in though, as the button doesn’t restore the headrests to their default position.
As the most expensive V60 variant, the Polestar includes Adaptive Cruise Control, parking sensors all round, Volvo’s blind spot warning, lane departure warning –which beeps if the car begins to wander out of its lane without an indicator, a forward collision warning system that projects a red glow onto the windscreen, which intensifies as the gap closes in on the car in front and should the car predict an impact, it will automatically jump on the anchors.
The Polestar is also fitted with headlights with high beams can automatically switch on depending on the level of visibility and a speed limit detection function, which isn’t always successful in identifying the speed in which the government deems legally safe (the speed limit).
Volvo V60 Polestar Specs
Make and model: Volvo V60 Polestar
Engine type: 2953cc,transverse mounted direct injection six-cylinder, 24 valve DOHC turbocharged and intercooled petrol engine; four-wheel drive with rear bias.
Power: 258kW @ 5250rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 3000-4750rpm
Transmission: Six-speed Adaptive Geartronic with neutral control and Polestar calibrated transmission software for manual quick shift sports mode and steering wheel mounted gearshift paddles; launch control
Fuel consumption: 10.3 litres (combined)
Dimensions: 4635mm long, 1865mm wide, 1484mm high and 2776mm wheelbase
Suspension: Front: McPherson strut suspension Rear: Multi-link system. Öhlins road and track, two-way adjustable shock absorbers.
Steering: Electrically assisted Rack and pinion
Country of Origin: Sweden