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    Volvo S60 Polestar First Drive Review


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    Sagar Bhanushali

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    Volvo S60 Exterior

    What is it?

    You could easily say it’s the coolest and the most charismatic Volvo. The brand that has always gotten itself associated with safety and unassuming comfort has been aiming to reach out to more buyers with the utterly luxurious XC90 and more recently, the S90. Now, Volvo India has taken a step forward in a whole new dimension wherein a four-door sedan isn’t purely a luxury tool, but a great all-rounder with supercar-chasing performance and looks to match.

    Say hello to the all-new S60 Polestar – Volvo India’s most dynamically capable offering yet.

    Designed and tuned by Volvo’s global racing arm Polestar, this particular S60 focuses solely on usable performance and everyday practicality which is akin to its rivals including the Mercedes C43 AMG and the Audi S5. So what do you get? For starters, this is a fairly comprehensive makeover. Polestar, in fact, uses the S60 T6 trim as the base for the aerodynamically optimised bodywork that bulges over the standard form. The S60, in T6 trim especially, is already a looker but the addition of go-faster bits (including an edgier front bumper, dual exhaust pipes, diffuser-style rear bumper and 20-inch alloy wheels covered in fat, 245-sectin Michelins) gives the Polestar a suitably better look. Better still, that gleaming Polestar blue amplifies the S60’s crisp lines and that hunkered-down stance like no other shade.

    How is it on the inside?

    Following the loud yet likable exterior design, the cabin’s clean and straightforward design might come as a surprise for some. Sure, the cabin feels more special than the regular S60 and is a significantly better place to be, mainly thanks to the large front buckets, but there is no denying that it’s a very old design and it’s starting to feel its age. The quality is there and the finish of materials is what we have come to expect from Volvo although we would like to see this performance-focused model with a cabin that better reflects the car’s aggressive nature.

    What’s exclusive to the S60 Polestar, you may ask? Well the centre console is made of real carbon fibre and there are several little Polestar logos on the door sills, aluminium pedals, door inlays, gear lever and the seats which look the part thanks to contrasting blue stitching. Speaking of which, Volvo does comfort rather well and the perforated leather seats on this car are among the best in its class – featuring solid side bolstering, they hold you in place firmly even under heavy cornering, as we found out during our time with the car at the Kari Motor Speedway in Coimbatore.

    For the price, the S60 Polestar is well equipped and on par with its rivals. You get climate control, heated steering wheel (something that will hardly come in handy in our country), keyless entry, all-digital instrument panel, electric front seats and a 7-inch display for the multimedia system that supports multiple media devices. Being a Volvo, it makes sense to pay close attention to all the safety features on-board. The S60 Polestar, in fact, gets adaptive cruise control, lane keeping aid, collision warning with full automatic braking and pedestrian detection and blind spot information system besides multiple airbags, ABS and ESP.

    How does it drive?

    The S60 Polestar is all about the drive, and boy does it shine on the track. Following a brief stint behind the wheel around the narrow yet very technical Kari Motor Speedway, our first impressions point towards it being a legitimate all-weather performance car with loads of grip.

    Next to its rivals, the S60 Polestar’s 2-litre, four-cylinder engine may seem insignificant but still, it’s rather intoxicating. We say intoxicating because it makes power via both turbo and a supercharger. The end result is 376bhp and 470Nm of torque, thanks to new conrods, new camshafts, a larger air intake and a higher capacity fuel pump to augment Polestar’s magic on this four-cylinder Drive-E motor. Like all fast Volvos, this one’s all-wheel drive, too, with a rear-biased torque distribution system for as much neutral chassis balance as possible.

    Fire up the engine and its deep burble on idle is an instant reminder that something manic lies under the hood of this particular Volvo. Its engine note is noticeably deeper than other 4-cylinder performance motors that we have tested and it’s certainly racier than all other Volvos on sale today. To top it all, Polestar has reduced the car’s weight, too, since the model is 24 kilos lighter over the front axle and 20 kilos lighter in total compared to its predecessor. On the track, these numbers translate to surplus of power and a serious punch out of slower corners. The way this engine delivers power isn’t exactly linear – there is some turbo lag at the bottom end of the rev range and the midrange pull (when it’s on boost) is simply wild – but it’s got plenty of appeal nonetheless. Another positive of this drivetrain comes in the form of the 8-speed automatic which proved to be surprisingly quick and reactive on the track. In Sport+ mode, it would always keep the engine spinning above 4,000rpm which is basically the meat of its power band.

    Fortunately the chassis and the fat Michelin Pilot Super Sports cope easily with the power. Interestingly, this car uses a Polestar and Ohlins developed adjustable suspension with spring rates that are much higher than the standard car. The electric steering, too, has been recalibrated and its effect is apparent the moment you apply lock when the front is fully loaded – its nicely weighted and offers reasonable feel at the wheel despite the driven front wheels. Eventually, it tends to understeer than slide when pushed hard; however, it’s also really adjustable and effective, thanks to the active diff shifting power between front and rear axles for better turn-in agility and mid corner stability.

    Should I buy one?

    Whichever way you look at it, the S60 Polestar is an impressive car. It’s got real racing pedigree and fully usable performance even for the kind of roads that we have. That being said, there is a measure of difference about the way it appeals to enthusiasts. Sure, it’s not as well appointed on the inside as its German rivals and its down on two cylinders, however, it’s just as thrilling to drive and for the price, brilliant value as well.

    Where does it fit in?

    On sale for Rs 52.50 lakh (ex-showroom, Delhi), the Volvo S60 can be deemed as a real performance bargain. Price wise, its nearest competitor is the Audi S5 which demands Rs 67.80 lakh whereas the Mercedes C43 AMG sits at the top of the chain, at Rs 74.35 lakh.

    Photos by Volvo India

    Click here for on-road prices and full details of the Volvo S60 range

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