The market for high-performance luxury sedans is suitably huge – there is something unique about four-door sedans that combine sports-car thrills with everyday practicality, after all. For years we have had performance sedans from Mercedes, Audi and BMW and now it’s the turn of perhaps the most sensible of luxury automakers – Volvo.
The Swedish brand has just launched the all-new S60 Polestar, an executive luxury sedan cum four-door rocket ship. Designed and tuned by Volvo’s global racing arm Polestar, this particular S60 focuses solely on usable performance and everyday practicality. Here’s how it felt on the narrow yet very fast Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore.
Polestar has made plenty of changes and added bits to make their creation stand out from the rest of the S60 range. Besides the aerodynamically optimised bodywork, the car gets an edgier front bumper, dual exhaust pipes, diffuser-style rear bumper and 20-inch alloy wheels covered in fat, 245-sectin Michelins. Better still, that gleaming Polestar blue amplifies the S60’s crisp lines and that hunkered-down stance like no other shade. Although we must add that Volvo is offering this car in black as well.
The interior of the S60 Polestar feels more special than the regular S60 and is a significantly better place to be mainly thanks to the large front seats; however, we have some bad news. It’s a very old design and there is no denying that it’s starting to feel its age. The quality is there and the finish of materials is what we have come to expect from Volvo although we would like to see this performance-focused model with a cabin that better reflects the car’s aggressive nature.
What stands out in here is the big chunk of real carbon fibre on the centre console. Then there are several little Polestar logos on the door sills, aluminium pedals, door inlays, gear lever and the seats which look the part thanks to contrasting blue stitching. Speaking of which, Volvo does comfort rather well and the perforated leather seats on this car are among the best in its class – featuring solid side bolstering, they hold you in place firmly even under heavy cornering.
Like all new Volvos, the S60 Polestar is brimmed with safety features. In fact, it gets adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aid, collision warning with full automatic braking and pedestrian detection and blind spot information system besides multiple airbags, ABS and ESP.
The S60 Polestar’s 2-litre, four-cylinder engine may seem insignificant but still, it’s rather intoxicating. We say intoxicating because it makes power via both turbo and a supercharger. The end result is 376bhp and 470Nm of torque, thanks to new conrods, new camshafts, a larger air intake and a higher capacity fuel pump to augment Polestar’s magic on this four-cylinder Drive-E motor. Like all fast Volvos, this one’s all-wheel drive, too, with a rear-biased torque distribution system for as much neutral chassis balance as possible.
Fire up the engine and its deep burble on idle is an instant reminder that something manic lies under the hood of this particular Volvo. Its engine note is noticeably deeper than other 4-cylinder performance motors that we have tested and it’s certainly racier than all other Volvos on sale today. To top it all, Polestar has reduced the car’s weight, too, since the model is 24 kilos lighter over the front axle and 20 kilos lighter in total compared to its predecessor. On the track, these numbers translate to surplus of power and a serious punch out of slower corners. The way this engine delivers power isn’t exactly linear – there is some turbo lag at the bottom end of the rev range and the midrange pull (when it’s on boost) is simply wild – but it’s got plenty of appeal nonetheless. Another positive of this drivetrain comes in the form of the 8-speed automatic which proved to be surprisingly quick and reactive on the track. In Sport+ mode, it would always keep the engine spinning above 4,000rpm which is basically the meat of its power band.
Fortunately the chassis and the fat Michelin Pilot Super Sports cope easily with the power. Interestingly, this car uses a Polestar and Ohlins developed adjustable suspension with spring rates that are much higher than the standard car. The electric steering, too, has been recalibrated and its effect is apparent the moment you apply lock when the front is fully loaded – its nicely weighted and offers reasonable feel at the wheel despite the driven front wheels. Eventually, it tends to understeer than slide when pushed hard; however, it’s also really adjustable and effective, thanks to the active diff shifting power between front and rear axles for better turn-in agility and mid corner stability.
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||367bhp @ 5700|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||470Nm @ 2100|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||67|
|Tyre size||245/35 R20|
|Radar based safety features||Yes|
|Adaptive cruise control||Yes|
Competition All Specs
|Max. Power (bhp@rpm)||367bhp @ 5700||363bhp @5500rpm|
|Max. torque (Nm@rpm)||470Nm @ 2100||520Nm @2000rpm|
|Fuel Capacity (in litres)||67||66|
|Tyre size||245/35 R20||255/35 R18|
All things considered, the S60 Polestar is an impressive car. It’s got real racing pedigree and fully usable performance even for the kind of roads that we have. Sure, it’s not as luxurious as its German rivals and its down on two cylinders, but it’s just as thrilling to drive and for the price, brilliant value as well. On sale for Rs 52.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), it’s a real performance bargain given that its closest competitor, the Mercedes C43 AMG is significantly more expensive at Rs 74.35 lakh.