|Volvo’s Rebel Blue paint scheme really makes the V60 Polestar stand out in a crowd. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like some of the sub-brands just mentioned, Polestar has its roots in motorsport. It began as Flash Engineering in 1996 under the leadership of Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC) winner Jan ‘Flash’ Nilsson, with the purpose of contesting Volvos in the same series, initiated by a Tom Walkinshaw Racing (TWR) built 850 Super Touring sedan. A TWR-constructed S40 Super Touring was entered in 1998, whereas a Prodrive-sourced S60 S2000 hit the track in 2003.
|The V60 Polestar remains a stylish alternative within a very select performance wagon micro-niche. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Polestar Racing continued to compete and win with the S60 S2000 until 2009 when a C30 S2000 became the basis for the next-generation STCC challenger, which was the same year they started modifying Volvo road cars under their separate Polestar Performance brand. The first street-spec car was the one-off 405-horsepower
|If its radiant paint job doesn’t give its performance credentials away, this tiny blue badge of honour should do the trick. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Volvo purchased Polestar Performance and the Polestar brand in 2015, whereas Polestar Racing remained in the hands of Dahl, who rebranded it Cyan Racing (after the unique “Rebel Blue” colour scheme used for the Polestar racing/road car livery and branding). Volvo changed that branding this year that will result in a completely new silver double-V logo with the points facing each other (think “><“),
|LED fogs, trick aero add-ons, and 20-inch alloys are just some of the Polestar’s go-fast goodies. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’ve covered the 2017 V60 at length in a previous review, along with its lifted and beefed up V60 Cross Country sibling, so I won’t go into too much detail about the general car this time around. To the uninitiated, the V60 is a five-door sport wagon version of the S60 sedan in the premium compact D-segment, meaning it currently
|Lightweight and stunningly beautiful, each 20-inch rim gets a tiny blue Polestar logo. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
In the U.S., the V60 now has Buick’s Regal TourX on its tail, while Audi sells the A4 Allroad Quattro in both markets, but these two raised and bulked up crossover-styled wagons target the similarly rugged V60 Cross Country, so they’re not direct competitors to the regular V60.
Years ago there were low-slung premium-branded sport wagon alternatives from Volvo’s
|Curving vertical LEDs make these taillights look spectacular at night. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Battle yes, but the 328i xDrive Touring, 328d xDrive Touring, C300 4Matic Wagon, and V60 Polestar aren’t in the same league at all. One maxes out at 180 horsepower and 280 lb-ft of torque (and I’m going to guess this turbo-diesel’s days are numbered), two equal themselves out at 241 horsepower apiece, plus 258 and 273 lb-ft of torque respectively, whereas the lone Swede doles out 367 horsepower and 347 lb-ft of torque. That’s a whole lot of sport wagon, and puts the ultra-hot V60 Polestar into a class of one compared to its near identical S60 Polestar sibling that’s forced to fight it out against a slew of four-door sedans from the aforementioned quintet of alpha-designated performance sub-brands.
|A gloss and matte black diffuser joins big fat stainless tailpipes for a menacing look. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Before you think I’m slagging BMW and Mercedes, I’m in no way disrespectful of what
|Ultrasuede and blue stitching combine for a sporty yet richly appointed interior. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Here in Canada, wagon buyers belong to a cult-like niche that major players like BMW and Mercedes have the financial wherewithal to administer to as they see fit, the remaining premium suppliers content to solely slurp from the trough of crossover SUV consumerism. Volvo is in the unique position of having provided an uninterrupted supply of wagons since before most of us have memories, and therefore appears almost obligated to serve this near microcosmic antiestablishment market, possibly to their own detriment when factoring in sales numbers.
|Other than some unique detailing, the Polestar’s cabin is much the same as the regular V60. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
One of the reasons for the history lesson is to point out the key difference between old and new S60/V60 Polestars, the first two model years housing Volvo’s once ubiquitous 3.0-litre turbocharged inline-six behind its blue-badged egg-crate grille, good for 345 horsepower at 5,250 rpm and 369 lb-ft of torque
|This fabulous configurable TFT primary gauge cluster is standard. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like every vehicle in Volvo’s current lineup it’s a 2.0-litre direct-injection four with turbocharging, the previously noted difference being a supercharger strapped on as well. To be clear this isn’t the only differentiator, as Volvo offers its turbocharged and supercharged 1,969 cubic centimeter four in the previously noted V60 T6 Drive-E AWD and higher end trims of its other nameplates too, while so far it’s not plug-in-electrified as done to its 400-horsepower XC90 T8 AWD and soon its 2018 XC60 T8 AWD, but rather the Polestar squad has boosted the basic design with plenty of its track-proven performance tricks.
|These metal pedals with rubber inserts look great and add grip. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
|We still love the V60’s floating stack and myriad buttons, but the infotainment system is not aging well. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
After crossing over the “ENGINEERED by polestar” aluminum treadplates things are
|Just in case you forget the new eight-speed gearbox is connected to 367 horsepower. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The regular V60 already offers a high-quality cabin, with soft touch surfaces in all the expected areas and fabric wrapping all pillars front to back. Volvo even finishes the door skins in soft synthetic right to their very bottoms, but it doesn’t do
|As supportive as they’re comfortable, the Polestar interior makes for a best of both worlds scenario. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
The powertrain follows the rest of the car’s enticing yet not overbearing theme, its exhaust note noticeable but hardly impetuous. The rear pipes let off a low purposeful gurgling sound at idle, become considerably more rambunctious at takeoff, and then downright menacing as revs start to rise. The standard shift paddles exact quick response from the eight-speed automatic gearbox and near 370-horse
|Rear seating area is wonderfully accommodating for a sports car. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
High-speed stability is superb, the V60’s five-door upright body style inherently aiding aerodynamics and the aforementioned extras improving its slipstream effect further, keeping wind noise to a minimum while adding a bit more rear downforce. To that end it hugs fast-paced corners tenaciously, madly biting into tarmac thanks to a well-sorted chassis and 245/35R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport performance rubber underneath. Truly, while the V60 Polestar might immediately grab attention for its potent drivetrain, its forte is at-the-limit handling.
|How’s that for sports car practicality? It doesn’t get better than this. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
Like the regular V60 the Polestar’s cargo area is wonderfully accommodating and finished beautifully with high-grade carpeting on the floor, seatbacks and sidewalls, plus a stylish polished stainless protector plate at the very back. Chromed tie-down hoops can be found at each corner, although Volvo covered everything with a rubberized cargo mat. Remove that and a flip-up cargo partition is
|Volvo didn’t waste any money on a fancy Polestar engine cover. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I was only underwhelmed under the hood where the engine isn’t remotely exciting to look at, the plastic cover devoid of any Polestar branding and therefore far too bland for such a thrilling performance machine, although a slick looking carbon-fibre strut tower brace subtly sits atop the front bulkhead.
|This carbon fibre strut tower brace could go unnoticed unless someone pointed it out. (Photo: Karen Tuggay, Canadian Auto Press)|
I’m not going to recommend the V60 Polestar, because those who lay down the $69,000 required know what they want and don’t need me to coax them into it. It’s a car for those who fly in the face of status quo norms after all. Still, I can commend them for their pragmatic yet passionate choice and can further promise they’ll never feel shortchanged when a suitable road lay ahead. I can also promise to feel a bit jealous, as they get to enjoy it for a great deal longer than my test drive allowed.
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