When we think high performance sedans, names like the Mercedes C63 AMG, BMW M3, Audi RS4, and the Lexus IS-F are the first to come to mind. How about Volvo? What? A Volvo? Most of you probably think I’m crazy to even consider a Volvo in the same league as the aforementioned high-performance cars. But just have an open mind and keep reading.
Gone are the days of your parents’ Volvos, which were great cars of course, but never performance oriented vehicles that couldcompete with the likes of the M3 or the AMG. Fast forward to 2015 and be prepared to be blown away by the new Volvo S60 Polestar. When I told my cousin that I was going to be test driving the new Polestar, his text message to me simply read, “That car rips.” Enough said.
The first thing that strikes you when you see the S60 Polestar is the phenomenal Rebel Blue paint, and there are only certain cars that can pull off such a colour; most people loved it. Volvo styling is subtle, yet apparent in the front grille, rear bumper, and rear tail lights, but that’s about it. The rear could use some tweaking, but overall, the Polestar is gorgeous, and distinct from the S60. On the Trans-Canada highway, while heading towards Vancouver, I passed a regular S60 and the driver did a double take on the Polestar, probably wishing he had made the upgrade. On the inside, front and rear seats are exceptional and provide utmost comfort and support. Polestar Performance badging is evident throughout, but perhaps the best look is when the shifter lights up – great touch, Volvo. But forget looks, let’s talk performance.
Firing up the Polestar releases a tame snarl from the 3.5” tail pipes. The T6 3.0L engine produces 345 hp and 369 lb-ft of torque, and this tuned engine is matched perfectly to the Aisin Warner 6-speed transmission that sends power to all four wheels. In regular Drive Mode, the car drives great and gives the same fuel economy as the S60. The suspension is not too edgy, making it easy to drive this Volvo every day and all day – did I mention I love the seats. Need to get somewhere fast? Throw the shifter to the left to Sport Mode and the Polestar morphs from gentle Bruce Banner to the Hulk. The car downshifts a gear or two, ready to pounce. An exhaust valve opens, turning the subtle snarl into a full-out growl; the men in blue will turn to look, so keep it slow. The 345 hp is deceiving as the car feels, and goes, much faster. Volvo states that 0 – 60 mph takes only 4.5 seconds, which feels bang on. Shifting is amazingly crisp, whether done manually via the paddles or automatically by the car.
Since it was February, our test Polestar was equipped with snow tires and they performed surprisingly well; summer slicks, however, would allow drivers to eat up corners and turns with relative ease. Steering is precise and effortless, with only minor road imperfections not making it to your fingertips. Because of our mild winter, we didn’t have the chance to drive the car in snow, but like any other Volvo, we’re positive it would not disappoint.
For 2015, there will be a total of 750 Volvo Polestars available in only 13 countries, including a handful for Canada. Can this car compete with the AMG or M3? Well, maybe, or maybe not. But considering the sticker price is ten grand less, at the least, this might be the perfect car to rip around the track or take to Ikea for some home furnishings.