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Tuesday 19th June 2012

Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar concept

Only yesterday we revealed details of the mad 508hp Volvo S60 Polestar - now we've driven it!



Somewhere on a test track in the heart of a gigantic factory complex outside Gothenburg an S60 with most un-Volvo brand values, a 508hp straight-six turbo, outrageous blue paintwork and four-wheel drive scrabbles for traction on a wet test track, all popping exhaust and wastegate noise. This is the sound of PH having lots of fun. In a Volvo.

S60 Polestar a one-off, and already sold
S60 Polestar a one-off, and already sold
Welcome then the Polestar S60 Concept, the second road-going, ruded-up Volvo to emerge from this one-time race team and now officially endorsed tuning outfit.

We like to think of the Swedes as quite a serious bunch. You know the stereotypes - sensible shoes, safety conscious, good with flatpack furniture and all that. Anyone who's witnessed them drinking will know the truth though - when the Swedes do mental they can do it as well as anyone. But still the need for the first slide in our presentation to ask: 'Are you serious?'

'Are you serious?'
When you hear this car has been sold for 300 grand to a customer in a country where dollars are the primary currency you'd have to say ... actually are you really serious?

Paintwork aside the S60 is relatively subtle
Paintwork aside the S60 is relatively subtle
From behind the wheel it would appear very much yes. An S60 might not seem the most obvious basis for an M3/C63/RS4 chaser. Especially one costing $300,000. But the success of the C30 Polestar in drawing attention was so outstanding the chance for another bite of the cherry was too good to pass up, especially as Polestar runs S60-based silhouette racers in the Swedish TTA touring car championship.

The lurid blue paintscheme and the same basic outline might be about the only thing those cars actually have in common but the expertise that's gone into this car is very much derived from lessons learned on the track.

At which point you're probably still playing catch up in your head and saying "yes, but it's a $300K, 500hp ... Volvo!"

Custom induction kit and cylinder head
Custom induction kit and cylinder head
How they did it
One that goes very, very nicely indeed thank you very much. Power delivery is very different from those obvious German equivalents, a big-lunged, gutsy and very much old-school rush of turbocharged boost sending great tugs of torquesteer through the wheel as 424lb ft of torque rips into the tarmac. The noise is all rally car whooshes, gurgles, pops and wastegate chirrups through straight-cut 3.5-inch tail pipes and Polestar's bespoke induction system, intake manifold and reworked cylinder head. The engine's transverse positioning is quirky, oversized turbo ducting flanked with the trademark gold anodising of remote Ohlins damper reservoirs. Good Swedish engineering there then, ditto in the four-wheel-drive powertrain that uses pre-production Haldex 5 computer-controlled centre and rear diffs.

Thing is, since when did the Swedes have the desire to go chasing the Germans in the hot saloon stakes? And since when did they know so much about setting up such cars?

30mm ride height drop and 19s part of the package
30mm ride height drop and 19s part of the package
For a one-off tuner car the S60 is a remarkably resolved piece of kit. Though undeniably raucous, the boost is very well regulated and the chassis beautifully damped, supple, responsive and poised. Better yet, the regular automatic gearbox has been - at the cost of some effort - replaced with a manual, saving a scarcely believable 40kg from between the front wheels. Attention to detail extends to subtly flared bodywork demanding new rear doors and wings and a battery moved to the boot, shoving a further 20kg rearwards, 30mm chopped out of the wide height and track widened by 20mm front and 40mm rear.

Looks like they are serious...
The driving experience is part Mitsubishi Evo, part Audi S4 and all the more fun for how unexpected it is from behind a Volvo badge. A tantalising few laps around the narrow, slippy and undulating Volvo test track is all we're allowed, the crests and long, constant-radius corners at least able to demonstrate fine balance and a refreshing lack of interest in nose-heavy understeer.

Expect more from this partnership
Expect more from this partnership
Great brakes, a crisp clutch and keen throttle response mean an enthusiastic demeanour and though under power there's not a great sense of power going to the rear axle there's fantastic adjustability and a wonderfully predictable response to weight shifts, lifts and trailed brakes. A more rear-driven feel is a computer and revised settings for the Haldex system away. Our swiftly imagined white-coated Sven with the laptop was sadly not available to deliver on this promise, but Polestar race driver Robert Dahlgren assures us this mythical figure can deliver a more tail-happy response on demand.

So, a very impressive demonstration of Polestar's talents and a great shop window. But what relevance to those of us not quite prepared to spend supercar money on a near-standard looking Volvo saloon?

While Volvo proper pursues more predictably Swedish paths of safety, eco friendliness and doing better than Saab, it seems happy to indulge Polestar's ambitions to help Volvo owners get a little more out of their cars with a range of chip tuning offered through official dealers in over 30 countries. Who knew? Too few, seemingly.

508hp concept very approachable
508hp concept very approachable
Will I be able to buy one?
We've had, over the years, fits and bursts and the occasional officially hot Volvos, as those with memories of torque-steering T5 850s will attest. Realising 'pirate' tuners (Polestar's words) do no favours to the corporate image, Volvo has given Polestar access to its latest engines and diagnostics equipment to offer officially warrantied upgrades to the most powerful engines in each Volvo model. In the S60 that means 329hp fromthe T6, ambitions to expand into chassis and brake tuning, wheels and other aftermarket parts high on the agenda.

Are any of the S60's upgrades likely to make more mainstream production? Well, put any regular saloon on trick race-spec Ohlins suspension, rose-jointed and set up by an experienced racing team, and it'll likely go somewhat better than standard. Especially with the with the addition of over 200hp horsepower.

Manual gearbox is a welcome addition
Manual gearbox is a welcome addition
And while nobody at Polestar expects orders for $300,000 S60s to come flooding in, if you want one they'll build it for you. And it's a more viable project than the admittedly wild and unhinged C30 built previously.

Mainly though it's fast, surprisingly polished and bursting with the kind of charisma most of us probably wouldn't have ever previously associated with the S60. Clearly talented, amusingly mischievous and quietly ambitious, Polestar is a team definitely worth watching and, having reworked Volvo's forthcoming 1.6-litre engine to deliver a race-spec 330hp, is clearly brimming with ideas on how to make that Volvo in your life just that bit more interesting. All power to them! Now if we can just get Sven with the laptop over to make a slight tweak to that torque balance we'll really be laughing...


VOLVO S60 POLESTAR
Engine: 2,953cc 6-cyl, turbocharged
Transmission: 6-speed manual, 4-wheel drive
Power (hp): 508@6,500rpm
Torque (lb ft): 424@5,500rpm
0-62mph: 3.9sec
Top speed: "More than" 186mph
Weight: 1,640kg
MPG: 28.5mpg* (NEDC combined)
CO2: 231g/km*
Price: $300,000

*Figures as per standard S60 T6

Dan Trent
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Author Discussion

rob.e

Original Poster:

2,656 posts

165 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
If it's possible to make it more rear biased easily, and they knew you were going to drive it on a greasy track its a shame they didn't do that for you.

I have to say it looks great, sounds like it performs great too but I find it hard to get excited about things that are not actually for sale, either as a finished vehicle (at a sensible price) or dealer fit upgrades.

MonkeyMatt

5,330 posts

94 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Did you just say $300,000? I was a big fan of this untill you said that!

ST150HB

283 posts

36 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Would be interesting to see this as a production car, and how they would price it. Looks like great fun though.

y2blade

54,550 posts

102 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
I WANT.

Riggers

1,851 posts

65 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Personally I'm really glad that the second crazy-power Polestar Volvo concept sounds like it's just as well resolved as the old C30 one was.

That C30 was honestly one of the most surprising cars I've ever driven, because it was clearly so well set-up, so well resolved. From the sounds of things, it's something they've repeated with the S60, with bells on. Good on 'em biggrinthumbup
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rhinochopig

17,100 posts

85 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
I think for that money I'd want the TTA car body and aesthetics with the road car underpinnings. It's just not special enough in the looks department for that kind of money, and would probably have been cheaper to use the race car body as they've already spent the money developing that.

Dale Lomas

166 posts

42 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Like that! Do you think they'll bring it to the 'Ring?

Krikkit

5,189 posts

68 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
The C30 they did has gone down as one of my favourite hot hatches ever made - that fantastic 5 pot, great looks and 4WD driftability all combining to make something very desirable indeed.

This carries on with that - just looking at those fantastic wheels with that lovely blue is a real winner.

fathomfive

7,736 posts

77 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
y2blade said:
I WANT.
Me too.

I love that colour.

y2blade

54,550 posts

102 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
This "PH loves Volvo" trend is very heart warming cloud9


mig25_foxbat2003

2,437 posts

98 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
I want that more than I want an E60 M5, and that is saying something!

Cupradan

37 posts

38 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Dale Lomas said:
Like that! Do you think they'll bring it to the 'Ring?
That would be worth watching! biggrin

El Shafto

105 posts

32 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
It's another pointless car just like the Juke-R...Therefore, it gets a solid 10 out of 10 from me :-D Absolutely love cars like this that are absolutely nuts and made for no other purpose than "because we can!".

RichTBiscuit

403 posts

38 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Why don't Volvo do the sensible thing and make a production version?

They currently have zero cars in their range that interest me; This would be one i'd love to drive.

Volvo need to rediscover their 'cool'. 90's Volvo BTCC estate cars were awesome for example.

illocon

50 posts

88 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
El Shafto said:
It's another pointless car just like the Juke-R...Therefore, it gets a solid 10 out of 10 from me :-D Absolutely love cars like this that are absolutely nuts and made for no other purpose than "because we can!".
+1

RevOne

39 posts

39 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Really liking Volvos attitute towards Concept Car production. Get private investment to fund said concept, generate lots of publicity, let journos rag it around a track then give it to the happy new owner.

Its a win, win, win, win situation.

Now please filter some of this hotness into the road cars!

mig25_foxbat2003

2,437 posts

98 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Just checked back - yep, still in love with it. Especially the colour. If you parked that in work's carpark and took a picture from the 4th floor, it'd look like you'd Photoshopped all the colour out of the rest of the picture - grey Audi, silver Merc, anthracite 318d, WHAT THE HOLY CHRIST IS THAT?

Amazing. I bet it makes a fantastic sound too, although I think the only way I could want it more would be if it had one fewer cylinder, and made a noise like a very angry T5 gargling Wray Nephews.

Google search - which banks have lax security and outdated CCTV systems...

blackchrome917

69 posts

35 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
So this isn't a concept car at all? Sounds like a one off customer car built by a tuner.

Although, having said that, if Autocar, Piston Heads etc are getting a drive, maybe its a taster to see what people think.

I'd have one in that colour but wouldn't be up for paying a $300k price. I would like an AWD T6 or even D5 with the manual box.

keith2.2

317 posts

82 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
MonkeyMatt said:
Did you just say $300,000? I was a big fan of this untill you said that!
Suspect you'll find the first E92 M3 Mule out of the M garages probably cost that. They're not suggesting that were it to be put into production, it'd be priced the same.

I gave it 10 yesterday, and I igve it 10 again today. LOVE it.

I'd like this plus the c30 polestar in my garage please.

Also - I consider "Polestar" to be a significantly cooler name than "AMG" or "M".

Polrules

350 posts

121 months

[news] 
Tuesday 19th June 2012 quote quote all
Just making sure you were all aware you can actually go to Volvo and buy a 4WD S60 with a 300bhp Turbocharged I6 for £40K. Doesn't look too different from this concept, quite a decent Q car actually...


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