In 1965 Joginder Sign won the Safari Rally with the Volvo PV544 and when Volvo’s 242 “Flying Brick” swept the competition off the racing circuits of Europe on its way to become the Group A champion the reputation for being a boring car was erased. It was not until the mid-1990s, when Volvo entered two 850 wagons in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC) that Volvo enthusiasts were inspired by the legendary photos of Volvo wagons taking turns on two wheels.
For the next decade, Volvo produced the high-performance models such as the 850 T-5R and V70R. From 2004 to 2007, Volvo produced the brand’s halo performance models, the S60R and V70R with the 2.5L five-cylinder engine. For the next seven years, Volvo enthusiasts waited for a true successor to the P2Rs. During 2014, Volvo introduced the 3.0L six-cylinder S60 and V60 Polestar models for the 2015 model year. For 2017, Volvo refreshed their Polestar cars with a new 2.0L four-cylinder engine and eight-speed transmission.
What makes a great Volvo for an automotive enthusiast? This is the question that the engineers at Polestar answered when they began the journey for their first production vehicles for consumer use. The engineers built the cars for people like themselves. With each concept car, starting with the C30 Polestar, the engineers applied their lessons learned to the next. The 2017 Polestar models are the first to use the 2.0L four-cylinder, twin-charged engine producing 362 horsepower and 347 lb. ft. of torque. A supercharger provides lower RPM power while the turbo engages above 3250 RPM. One interesting change to the air intake setup came when the Polestar engineers discovered an indentation in the intake tubing. The indentation restricted airflow and when asked, the engineers at Volvo stated the indentation was needed during the marriage process of mating the engine into the body. Through discussions with the manufacturing team, the Polestar engineers designed a less restrictive intake pipe and Volvo relocated a fuel line that would not interfere during manufacturing.
The Polestar models add roughly 260 new parts to a S60 or V60 T6 R-Design model. There are approximately 8,000 parts in the cars. The main engine enhancements are a bigger turbocharger, new conrods, new camshafts, a larger air intake, larger 3-inch exhaust system, and a higher capacity fuel pump to augment the engine, and matched it with a Polestar-optimized BorgWarner four-wheel drive system and eight-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox. The AWD system has a mechanically split of up to 50/50. The eight-speed automatic offers quicker shifts and unlike the previous six-speed will remain engaged at the rev-limiter and not shift to the next gear. Another unique feature for the 2017 models is Sport+. This engine and transmission programming was used as a test mode during pre-production and Polestar engineers decided to keep it as a hidden option. Once engaged, Sport+ will keep the engine at 4,000 RPMs above second gear and utilize the turbo all the time. As a result, today’s limited edition S60 and V60 Polestar models are the fastest Volvo vehicles to date. The S60 Polestar will make the zero to 60mph sprint in 4.4 seconds and the V60 Polestar in 4.5 seconds. Both are limited to a top speed of 155mph.
The Polestar interior offers unique details with Nubuck textile suede and blue stitches on the steering wheel, and leather embossed with the Polestar logo. The center armrest is also Nubuck textile. The steering wheel has an insert of Nubuck circling the front inner side providing improved grip. The console’s unique carbon-fiber pattern works well on the center stack. In totality, I would have liked to have seen some additional interior styling enhancements such as blue seat belts, a flat bottom steering wheel and more differentiation from the R-Design models.
Suspension rigidity is increased by 80% with stiffer springs and road-handling is tailored with high-performance, adjustable Öhlins shock absorbers. For 2017, Polestar added Polestar calibrated electro-assisted power steering with three unique Polestar levels and a new light-weight, 20-inch multi-spoke wheel design with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires. The brake system utilizes 371mm ventilated and slotted front discs via six-piston Brembo calipers. The large brakes require a minimum 19-inch wheel and for winter, Polestar offers two 19-inch wheel designs. The stabilizer bars are 15% stiffer than like units found in the R-Design models. Part of the improved performance and especially handling compared to the previous model years is optimized weight distribution. The handling characteristics are fantastic for a daily driver and very good for occasional track days. Visually, the profile looks great with the 20-inch wheels and if Polestar would lower the front suspension one inch the stance would be perfect.
“All changes made to the car are about improving drivability and efficiency. The base of the new engine carries motorsport technology with solutions like the combination of turbo and supercharger, lightweight materials and more. This works hand-in-hand with our core philosophy and has enabled us to evolve the Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar,” said Henrik Fries, Vice President R&D, Polestar.
Ever wonder if those larger Polestar spoilers make a difference? The rear spoilers at 155mph, increase the downforce by 73lbs on the S60 and 49lbs on the V60. The front splitter corners for reduced air flow beneath the car and add 46 lbs of downforce compared to base car at 155 mph. Those are some interesting factoids for your next Cars and Coffee discussion.
I first drove an early production 2017 V60 Polestar while in Sweden last year. Driving the Rebel Blue wagon for a week in its native country made the experience even more special. Aside from not having a manual transmission, the Polestar-engineered vehicles are what many Volvo enthusiasts want from a performance sedan or wagon. This past spring, I had the opportunity spend a day in the latest S60 and V60 Polestar cars on Arizona roads and on the track.
Before the start of the press drive, Volvo and Polestar presented a product overview to journalists. The first road legal Polestar cars were launched in 2014 to limited markets. Polestar has expanded the number of markets where a Polestar will be sold from 13 to 47 and doubling production volume from 750 cars a year up to 1500. Polestar does not want to make mass production models. The goal for future Polestar vehicles will be 1500 units per year. Looking deeper at current production, the V60 wagon makes up 67% of the total Polestar units in North America. The exterior color distribution is: 42% Cyan Racing Blue (formerly Rebel Blue), 33% Black Metallic, 16% Ice White and 9% Bright Silver Metallic. For those wanting the most exclusive Polestars, consider there are potentially single digit numbers of silver S60 Polestar in North America.
Once the product briefing ended, our small group of journalists were driven to the Phoenix airport where we boarded small, private Beechcraft King Air turbo propeller planes. We did not know we would be flying and it was a cool experience driving straight on to the runway with no TSA security lines and climbing the steps into the plane. After short and surprisingly comfortable flight across the Arizona desert and we landed at a secluded air field where Polestar had six Polestar cars waiting, three V60s and three S60s.
The drive back to civilization offered amazing scenery and a variety of roads and surfaces to put the Polestar cars through their paces. Volvo warned us that the Arizona State Police strictly enforce the speed limit and for the most part we kept speeds near the posted signs. The new four-cylinder is quieter than the previous 3.0L six-cylinder and as a result, speed is often higher than what I would have estimated. Cruising on the freeway, the Polestar models are very comfortable and the handling dynamics were solid yet still comfortable over rough surfaces, and expansion joints.
Our need for speed was satisfied after the lunch break when we met up with five-time Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) champion Richard Göransson who claimed 43 victories, 82 podium finishes and 16 pole positions. Göransson joined Polestar Cyan Racing in 2016 and has become involved in various development projects and media events, such as the 2017 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar cars. Richard brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the team and he provided driving tips to each of the journalists. This afternoon session was fun and educational.
After a slow lap with Richard behind the wheel of a Bright Metallic Silver V60 Polestar, explaining the course layout, the journalists got behind the wheel of the Polestar cars. Richard lead the caravan while offering advice over a handheld radio placed in the center console. His recommendations adjustments improved each driver’s performance and efficiency around the track. Each Polestar was set to Sport+ mode, reducing the need to use the paddle. The Michelin Pilot Sport tires delivered an incredible amount of grip and large six-piston Brembo brakes maintained stopping power despite the abuse. Driving these cars on the track provides a much different perspective and what it feels like to be near the limits of one’s driving ability versus the vehicle. I quickly learned what it is was like to miss a turn but also how it felt to hit the apex and maintain speed exiting a turn. I highly recommend every Polestar owner attending a local track day with an experienced instructor so that he or she can experience the true potential of these vehicles.
The 362hp four-cylinder was more than adequate, it excelled. The only thing lacking is the hearty sound of the 3.0L six-cylinder. Once you appreciate the unique sound of the four-cylinder, and its improved agility, it does not take long to realize it is an overall better Polestar. The Polestar S60 may not be an ideal track car but it provides an excellent balance between the road and the track. Drivers that know how to utilize the power and handling of the Polestar cars will certainly give their BMW and Audi friends a run for the money on track days.
As a Volvo owner for more than 17 years, to include several P2R models, a limited edition C30 Polestar and a modified V60 R-Design, the 2017 Polestar cars raise the performance benchmark a bit more when compared to the previous Polestar models. The V60 does offers enough room over the S60 to comfortably fit a set of four tires and tools for weekend track days. To try and build a similarly equipped car starting with a well-equipped R-Design will cost more money than buying a Polestar. The Polestar cars allow owners to “buy it built” and maintain peace of mind with a factory warranty. The only noticeable maintenance costs above that of a S60/V60 R-Design will be with the exclusive Öhlins suspension components and larger front brake rotors. The Polestar cars include a 4yr/50k miles warranty.
I am interested to see where Volvo takes the Polestar brand when they introduce electrified performance vehicles. For now, at the sunset of this current generation 60-series models, the S60 and V60 Polestar deliver the best from Volvo for performance-minded drivers. The Polestar cars are unique, entertaining, and destined to be this generation’s iconic Volvo enthusiast models. Cyan Racing Blue may be the marquee color but the limited Bright Metallic Silver and Ice White colors will be the ones to stand out years from now. Experience performance by Sweden at one of the select Polestar Certified dealers. The sum of its parts is what make the V60 Polestar a great wagon for automotive enthusiasts.
S60 Polestar – $60,000 USD
V60 Polestar – $61,600 USD
Destination Fee – $995
Volvo S60 Polestar
0-100 km/h 4.7sec
0-200 km/h 17.2 sec
0-60 mph 4.4 sec
0-120 mph 15.6 sec
Top speed 250 km/h*/155 mph*
Volvo V60 Polestar
0-100 km/h 4.8 sec
0-200 km/h 17.4 sec
0-60 mph 4.5 sec
0-120 mph 15.8 sec
Top speed 250 km/h*/155 mph*
* = Electronically limited
Adjustable Polestar Öhlins shock absorbers
Front strut brace with carbon fibre enforcement
Stiffer top mount front and rear
Stiffer tie blade bushing
Polestar optimized steering
80% stiffer springs compared to S/V60 T6 R-Design
Front: 60 N/mm
Rear: 67 N/mm (S60)
72 N/mm (V60)
Tires and Rims
Michelin Pilot Super Sport 245/35 ZR20 (95Y) XL
New Polestar bespoke rims, 20×8”
4-cylinder inline engine with turbo and supercharger
270 kW (367 hp DIN / 362 hp SAE) @ 6000 rpm
470 Nm (347 lb-ft) @ 3100-5100 rpm
Max 7000 rpm
Max boost 2.0 bar
Polestar 3.0” stainless full-flow active exhaust system with twin 3.5” tail pipes
New fuel pump
New air filter
Larger air intake
BorgWarner four-wheel drive
Polestar calibration for more rear torque dynamic distribution
Polestar calibrated stability control system
8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox with paddle shifters
Optimized shift precision
Polestar/Brembo 6 piston brake calipers
371×32 mm ventilated and floating Brembo discs
302×22 mm ventilated discs
1751 kg / 3860 lb (S60)
1796 kg / 3960 lb (V60)
Polestar front splitter corners
Polestar rear spoiler
Interior and exterior
Sport seats with charcoal, Nubuck, blue thread and Polestar imprint
Steering wheel with blue thread and leather/Nubuck
Carbon fibre centre stack
Nubuck inlay in doors
Nubuck centre armrest
Polestar gearshift knob
Polestar carpets with blue thread
Polestar sport pedals and footrest
Polestar door sills
All equipment included as standard
Rebel blue (Cyan Racing Blue for 2018)
20 City/27 Hwy/23 Combined EPA MPG
7,8 l/100 km (S60)
8,1 l/100 km (V60)
179 g/km (S60)
186 g/km (V60)
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