What is it?
The Volvo S60 Polestar. Not the 501bhp road-going touring car, rather a subtle upgrade for the regular S60 T6 executive saloon.
A £815 upgrade sees the turbocharged 3-litre straight-six engine’s power and torque lifted from 300bhp and 324lb ft to 324bhp and 354lb ft. The standard car’s 28.5mpg combined fuel economy figure remains intact, as does your official Volvo warranty.
This car has benefited from the £2495 Polestar Performance Pack, though, which includes the power boost as well as black wheels and wing mirrors and some subtle badges.
The standard S60 T6 uses a Haldex all-wheel-drive setup and six-speed 'Geartronic' automatic gearbox, and is only available with Volvo’s firmer R-design chassis.
What’s it like to drive?
The power and grip levels work hand in hand to create a car that is very brisk and easy to drive quickly, the throttle very responsive – a little too responsive at the top of its travel, making our first couple of getaways a smidge jerky.
The gearbox is a smooth shifter, but you’ll need to slot it into manual mode if you want to avoid slightly tardy downchanges. And with no paddles, this involves nudging the gearstick forwards or back. Many drivers, we suspect, are unlikely to bother.
The ride is a little firm but far smoother than typical German-made rivals and while the steering lacks weight and feedback, it’s actually pretty intuitive to use. These two attributes combine to make this S60 a very satisfying car to hustle along smoothly. It feels front-heavy when pushed, and the Haldex transmission means you can’t properly shuffle the power to try and counteract this, but that’s to defy the S60’s point – it treads a different line to a hot BMW or Mercedes, and therein lies its alternative appeal.
How does it compare?
At just over £40,000, this Polestar-tuned S60 compares to the 302bhp BMW 335i M Sport – which can be specced with both manual and automatic gearboxes – and the auto-only, 328bhp Audi S4 quattro. They both better the Volvo for thrills, but are beaten by the Swede if you wish to avoid ubiquity.
Anything else I need to know?
Similar Polestar ECU upgrades are available on most petrol and diesel engines across the whole Volvo range (including the Rebel Blue XC60 we’ve also reviewed), and being fully reversible and having no detrimental effect on your official warranty, they’re a safe way to make your car a touch more exciting.
And that 501bhp S60 Polestar is available to order, though it’ll set you back over five times the cost of this, its more rational relation…