Like many of its illustrious, indirect predecessors, the Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered will require prospective buyers to think a little out of the box. Because although it's arguably a generation ahead of its rivals, boasting hybrid tech where they are still just using combustion engines, the additional hardware means a tangible weight gain for improvements in performance and efficiency that, in the real world, aren't that great. When it's good, the Polestar Engineered is a really lovely car to be in, but those occasions occur to seldom to warrant spending £60,000 on a V60.
Which is exactly where Wheels of Fortune comes in. Because that sort of money - £57,000 as standard, £61,000 as tested - opens up all sorts of possibilities for those who require safe but swift family transport. There are more variations on the theme than ever, in fact, with estates joined by SUVs and swish four-door coupes as well.
The job for the boys this week is simple, then: find another four-door, four-wheel drive, 400hp+ family car, all criteria that the Volvo adheres to, for less than £70,000. Good luck...
Rules of Engagement
Mileage: Less than 15k
Driven wheels: Four
Engine position: Any
Engine size: Dealer's choice
The availability of a two-year-old RS6 for not much more than the V60 highlights the uphill struggle Volvo faces in the mega-estate market. Sure, the Polestar is very pleasant and justly sophisticated and points to where the market is headed. But the last generation RS6 has a 600hp 4.0-litre twin-turbocharged V8. And that's better.
What more can be said about the C7? Well, it's certainly better looking than the car which replaces it. And it's lighter, too (because it doesn't have to cart about a mild hybrid system) so I'm going to go right ahead and say it's no slower in the real world. In fact, in the real world, the C7 RS6 goes about as fast as you'd ever want. Particularly when there are immediate family members aboard.
As you might expect, £65k buys you a humdinger. Black and grey are arguably the C7's most desirable colours (assuming it's Layer Cake-style, Q-car coolness that you're after) but Sepang Blue works, as does a lowly 10k on the clock. The ad doesn't specify which chassis setup is underneath - the air suspension is preferable if you want a plush sort of ride - but either configuration dovetails well with the quattro way of doing things. Granted, the C7 has dated a little inside. But class is forever - and the RS6 has that in spades.
Joker - Mercedes-AMG C63 DR520
Throw out the requirement for all-wheel drive and low miles, and the world is rather your oyster. For half the V60's inflated price tag you could have a UK-specific DR520 - one of just 20 cars. Sure, it's well used at 75k - but £32,995 buys an insane amount of Mercedes. With a masterpiece engine to match.
Range Rover Sport SVR
Four doors? Check. Lots of space on board? Check. Frugal powerplant? Err. Special Vehicle Operations' Range Rover Sport sits at the other end of the bookshelf to Polestar's V60 because it relies on 5,000 cubic centimetres of V8 muscle as opposed to slick hybrid tech. It's a brash dinosaur, but one that really gets under the skin - which helps to make the thirst of its eight supercharged cylinders a slightly easier pill to swallow.
The Range Rover Sport's party piece projects a purposeful burble on a cruise and barks, crackles and fizzes through the exhaust when you're on it. But the car's talents extend beyond the engine bay, with plushness built into the cabin and a degree of flexibility offered by air suspension that the V60's manually-adjustable Ohlins can't come close to matching.
Plus, it's a Range Rover. Jaws will hit the floor when you explain that your Volvo cost over sixty grand. Few would question the logic behind a sub-£70k SVR. Most of these cars leave the showroom with £100k plus bills when they're new so on this particular three-year-old car - with just 11,000 miles - it amounts to a decent saving. Just remember the fuel kitty...
Joker - BMW M5
Ok, so it's a saloon. But the M5 is big enough to seat five adults. And you can put the skis on roof racks. Do that and you're given a machine so exciting, so fast and capable that even a Polestar-tuned V60 looks bland. A 625hp M5 Competition for under £70k looks like a comparable steal.
What a wholly inappropriate - and totally wonderful - assortment of Volvo rivals the boys have assembled here. Of course, we're not totally silly: nobody seriously considering the 49g/km Polestar Engineered will also have a Range Rover on the shopping list. But it's a fun investigation into what alternatives lie out there for those with more... traditional tastes.
There isn't a bad car here: the BMW is obscenely fast, the SVR caddishly charming, the RS6 one of Audi's very best and the Mercedes blessed with a divine V8. There's only one of the two main contenders that stands out as a V60 beater, though.
And it isn't the SVR. Sorry Sam. There's a lot to like about it, undoubtedly, but there'd be a lot of guilt using something so luxurious as a hack for your offspring; some surely will, but it's hard to imagine throwing the bikes in the back of a Range Rover and heading to the countryside as one happy family.
The RS6, though? Perfect. Of course it's not a cheap do-it-all wagon, but everything pleasant about the V60 - space, durability, sense of quality - is here in abundance, with the added benefit of a thumping, twin-turbo V8. For those that can afford to run one, still nothing quite does the fast family bus quite like an RS6.