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Volvo S60 Polestar: Inverse but proportional

Volvo S60 Polestar: Inverse but proportional

Snapshot: Volvo's sensible but fast S60 Polestar makes it to India. Out here at the Kari Motor Speedway we get a workout routine with this new performance saloon. Fast, efficient and safe, a hard to beat package for the price.

Fast isn’t the word first word when your list of hot saloons is compiled, but then Polestar is not as famous as BMW Ms, Merc AMGs or Audi S-lines. It feels elating to realise that Volvo has considered a lot of S60 Polestars for the Indian market, yes, 30 are initially making it to our shores out of the 1500 made for the world. And that too after Volvo doubled the capacity from 750 cars for this year. The S60 offers a near perfect blend of performance and everyday usability at a very competitive price point. They invited us to get a firsthand experience of its track prowess at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore. Turns out it completely changes of our perspective for a fast Volvo.

Design

Everybody will agree the S60 is already a beautiful looking car with aggression smoothened by fine svelte lines enhancing its classy appeal. The Polestar gets lots of styling updates to bring out its fast side. First the beautiful Polestar rebel blue paint will keep you admiring it for hours. Subtle changes on the front bumper and grille are for a rakish face. But look closely and the front splitter tells you it has aero trickery to increase front end grip reducing under steer. The enormous 20-inch alloys are not just for show, you see they have to be large enough to house those 6-piston 371mm Brembo ventilated disc plates, which certainly tell you a lot about this cars capabilities. The rear stays the same but the rear spoiler and diffuser are there to improve down force thus keeping the torque biased rear sticking to the road. See even the design changes are there in the pursuit of gaining more performance, and in the process greatly supplement the gorgeous looks of the S60 Polestar.

Interior

Volvo has the nicest seats ever to be comfortable in and your conception for a fast Polestar will be mistaken if you think they are hard and unforgiving inside. S60 wants you to know it is fast, but not to intimidate you. It wants you to be comfortable in those Nubuck leather seats and feel how plush the interior is. They have been sculpted to hold occupants under hard cornering, but then also soft enough for everyday use. The steering wheel too is covered in Nubuck which is okay, but the new paddle shifters behind the wheel are excellent to use. Another addition is the pedals which are tailor made for the Polestar and are much needed for communication from the tyres. Other than that the new Polestar gear selector is the only tacky bit in the cabin, it is great to work with but just looks a bit out of place in this graceful cabin. All necessary entertainment trinkets are there in place, a 12-speaker Harman Kardon audio system with all connectivity and a Dirac Live amplifier, electrically adjustable front seats, CleanZone automatic climate control with humidity sensor and much more.

Engine and Performance

The engine is the same 2.0litre 4-cylinder Drive-E unit that works under the standard S60, but in the Polestar it is supercharged and turbocharged to push out 363bhp of maximum power with a meaty 470Nm of peak torque output. Volvo Polestar engineers have increased the air intake, added a bigger turbo and downpipe and higher pressure fuel pump squeezing horse power from the in-line four. This transforms into a 0-100kmph sprint in 4.7 seconds and a top speed of 250Kmph. And just so you do the sprint in 4.7 seconds, Volvo has simplified launch control for you, simply turn off the Traction Control System in the menu, engage drive in Sport, left foot on the brake fully down, right foot on the accelerator, brace and release brake. A powerful surge pushes you in the seat, but not strong enough to make it uncomfortable. The power goes to all wheels via a rear torque biased All Wheel Drive system that will keep you out of trouble when you overstep the mark. The rear wheel bias means when the traction control is off, you get more torque sent to the rear wheels while launch, when the system senses more lateral G-forces acting and at very high speeds. There is a new 8-speed automatic gearbox that gets crisper when in Sport or Manual mode, and comes with a ‘curve hold’ feature holding shifts through fast corners enhancing response.

Ride and Handling

Even the sound of adjustable Polestar and Ohlins shocks gives a hint of high performance and tortured spinal columns. Nope, wrong again, the ride is very accommodating indeed. Kari is a bumpy track that is very busy and does not allow you or the machine to rest, but the Volvo S60 Polestar deals with these undulations with ease. It is very well behaved, true to its nature of being a Volvo, but it also sticks to the road surface under hard cornering. When you see a corner after a fast section and brake, you realise how amazing the stopping power is from those massive Brembos. Although that amazing force is in part due to the exclusively designed 245mm R20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres which are very sticky. Ride quality comes as surprise because these tyres have a 35mm profile and they run on Ohlins. Side walls have been strengthened to save the alloy rims and suspension is adjustable to make it softer as per requirements. Most of the time you’ll not even care about these detailed changes, but they make a Polestar what it is, a very fast but safe Volvo. All the safety features are in place with updated ESC and ABS, and an addition of the Radar in the front grille for City safety and radar guided cruise control.

The Volvo S60 Polestar is an eye opener reminding you why they were such a hit in BTCC touring car races. It is a performance saloon that will never intimidate you, enabling anyone with a driver’s license to go fast but not get scared while doing it. Belt it around a racetrack, take it to office everyday or just occasionally take it to that fancy ball dance, the Volvo S60 Polestar fits right everywhere. The other bonus is you shell out considerably less (Rs 52.5lakh ex-showroom Delhi) per bhp for a hot Polestar against its German rivals.

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