Review: 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar

2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue

Written by: Calvin Chan

Photography by: Calvin Chan / Adil Arif

 


 

Click here for the Chinese (中文) review.

 



Polestar {pohl-stahr] noun: Volvo's official racing partner. No, it has nothing to do with pole dancing, yet having it appear in your search history might raise a few eyebrows. Polestar Performance is to Volvo the way M Performance is to BMW. Though Volvos were traditionally viewed as safe and docile creatures, Polestar proved that the Swedes take racing very, very seriously. Debuting 20 years ago, the Volvo 855 T-5R was the brand's first dedicated performance wagon. Equipped with a five-cylinder turbocharged engine capable of 240 hp and 300 lb-ft, it was one of the fastest (and boxiest-looking) wagons of its time. They were the ultimate sleeper cars, capable of 0-100 km/h in a blistering 7.0 seconds. Further impressing us with the 850R and V70R, Volvo wagons were without a doubt, some of the quickest and most unique carpooling vehicles in the market.

 

Now it's no secret that we love wagons - their beautiful sloping rooflines, generously sized trunks, and beefy engines - but they're a rare sight and a dying breed on this side of the pond. We're constantly denied access to sporty all-wheel drive estates such as the Audi S4 Avant and the BMW 335i Touring, don't even get me started on the CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake or XFR-S Sportbrake. But we can always count on the Swedes to quench our automotive thirst. Enter the 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar, the newest creation from the depths of Gothenburg.

 

2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue shops at don mills2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue rear lights

 

At first glance, it's easy to confuse this limited edition model with the V60 R-Design. Though it carries the same turbocharged inline-six T6 engine as the R-Design, Polestar has tuned it up with a new twin-scroll Borg Warner turbo, a 0.5-inch thicker intercooler, and recalibrated software to bump up the power from 325 hp / 354 lb-ft to a sizzling 345 hp / 369 lb-ft, making it the fastest production Volvo in history.

 

One of the most notable changes with the V60 Polestar is the new full-flow active exhaust system. There are now two internal valves that freely open to reduce exhaust backpressure under certain driving conditions. In regular Drive mode, the valves are mainly closed to keep the noise low and suppressed, but flick the gear into Sport mode and the Polestar comes alive. Two open valves, a louder exhaust note, and an even bigger smile. The result is an invigorating roar that sounds mean, and very un-Volvo-like. We could listen to this wagon row through its gears all day. Wiggle your ears and you might be able to hear the turbos spooling up too. In fact, it sounds almost as good as the twin-turbo BMW F80 M3 we tested a few months earlier. It's that loud, and doesn't need to make use of sound amplification gimmicks like the Bavarian.

 

Power aside, the real gem of the V60 Polestar is its upgraded chassis. Though it weighs the same as the R-Design, it's now 80% stiffer and more rigid overall. Polestar has also fitted the V60 with custom-made Öhlins shock absorbers, stuff you normally see in supercars. The result is an audacious wagon backed up by a courageous Haldex All-wheel Drive system and ever-so-confident 19-inch Pirelli Sottozeros. The Swedes sure know how to build a performance car. Especially one that can withstand any weather condition thrown at it, which leads me to my favourite attribute about the V60, its exploitability. I've never driven a car so confidently in the snow. While I watched neighbouring rear-wheel drive AMGs and M4s creep through centimetres of snow at a measly 40 km/h, the Volvo ate up the white fluff without a hiccup. I felt like I could squeeze every inch of power out of this Polestar and never have to worry about my back-end finding its way into a pole (no pun intended, of course). It's a vehicle that wants to be pushed hard, and the harder you push, the better it performs. Wet or dry, the Polestar delivered excellent grip and driver control despite being a bit nose-heavy through the bends.

 

 

Supplied with Brembo 6 piston calipers and vented disc brakes, they deliver a soft initial bite, followed by a gradual, yet predictable brake pedal feel. Many have complained about it being too squishy and unreliable, but I thought the pedal travel was easily calculable and consistent. The steering weight is also adjustable - low, medium, high - and we preferred the latter at all times. It was never too heavy at low speeds, and when sped up, the steering feel was sensitive and precise. There's launch control too. Never in a hundred years would I have thought a Volvo would have such a feature. Turn ESC off, left foot hard on the brake, floor the gas and lift off, 0-100 km/h in an effortless 4.9 seconds.

 

However, one of its downfalls is the 6-speed automatic transmission. Manual mode lets you rev right up to the 6500 rpm red-line, but the shifts are slow and a slight nuisance when driving hard. When flat out accelerating, you actually have to shift earlier to give the gearbox enough time to process the gear change. Be that as it may, the AWF-21 transmission is still a brilliant piece of work that handles more torque than it's really supposed to. The delay in rowing gears doesn't hamper the performance or acceleration, but comparatively it's not as smooth as other transmissions being used by other manufacturers, i.e. the 8-speed ZF transmission. Another area of scrutiny is the ride quality. Yes, the body is more rigid and the Öhlins suspensions are magnificent, but the ride is a little too harsh for a luxury wagon. Smooth roads and freeways provide a balanced ride, but uneven roads and potholes will cause the chassis to shake and undulate up and over. The suspension is manually adjustable but unfortunately not with the push of a button.

 

Fuel economy for the Volvo V60 Polestar was high as expected considering we spent so much of our time in Sport mode. We averaged 14.5 L/100km, though with less spirited driving we're confident the Polestar can manage a more conservative 11-12 L/100km.

 

The V60 Polestar is available in two flavours: Black Sapphire and Rebel Blue, the latter of which our tester is wearing, a colour that I like to call Viva Bus Blue. There are also a handful of exterior upgrades to give the Polestar a bit of zing over the R-Design. The front splitters have been redesigned for improved airflow underneath the car, the rear diffuser and spoiler are all new, and the beautiful 19-inch wheels (20-inches for the summer tires) are specially sculpted for better airflow and cooling under hard driving. The Polestar looks aggressive, yet in its own Swedish way. There are no offensive lines or shark-related grilles. Volvo doesn't need that. The styling cues are understated but elegant, everywhere from the contrasting black mirrors to the vertical tail lights - it's an unmistakably handsome wagon.

 

 

Hop inside and you'll find all the bells and whistles of a traditional Volvo interior. Nearly all of the surfaces are covered with soft materials like Nubuck and leather, everything from the steering wheel to the armrests. The signature floating center stack makes a welcome appearance and leaves a myriad of storage areas to place your keys and wallet. The center 7-inch touchscreen infotainment system remains dated, though the vertically positioned rotary dial makes for easy navigation through the convoluted menus. Look below that and you'll spot one of the nicest looking gear shifters in automotive history. It lights up at night too, emitting a lovely blue hue to match the interior stitching and exterior paint. But the seats, oh the seats. Volvo sure knows how to make some of the most snug and ergonomic seats in the world. Saddle in and a beautifully lit TFT display rests in front of your eyes with customizable themes - Eco, Elegant, Performance - that display their corresponding information.

 

The cabin is cavernous enough to comfortably seat any six-foot adult, but rear seat legroom is particularly disappointing. Characteristic of a wagon, the V60's cargo space is in abundance and the rear seats fold to make room for larger items, though I'm quite disappointed that the trunk door isn't automatic or electrically powered. Ease of luggage or grocery ingress would be so much easier with some hands-free sensors and buttons. Overall, the fit and finish of the Polestar is excellent. It may look conventional, but at least there's no cardboard furniture from IKEA in sight.

 

 

The V60 Polestar is Volvo's answer to the Audi S4 and BMW 335i xDrive. Without a doubt, it trumps the latter two in terms of performance, safety technology, and sheer value. Sporting an amazing chassis tuned up by the Swedish celebrities from Öhlins and Haldex, it's no wonder why it won AJAC's 2015 Sports Performance Car of the Year (over $50k), overtaking the Ford Mustang and Dodge Challenger Hellcat. It's a performance vehicle well versed in the textbooks of summer and winter driving, sporting all-wheel drive and enough cargo space to fit all your road-trip necessities. What's there not to love? The V60 Polestar, and its sedan-based twin, the S60 Polestar, may not be as well marketed as BMW's M cars or the AMGs, but they're surely making a presence on Canadian soil and appealing to those wishing more from an R-Design, but would like all the comforts and safety gadgetries in place. Being shipped in such limited numbers, the starting price of $66,895 is bound to appreciate, and by the time you're reading this, they're probably sold out. A shame, because this has got to be one of the best handling and most beautiful wagons Volvo has ever produced.

 


Photo Gallery:

 

2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue 2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue rear tail lamps 2015 Volvo Polestar Rebel Blue front lights off

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar Rebel Blue 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar Rebel Blue lights 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar rear 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar side

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar snow 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar ice and snow

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar tail 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar tail lamps snow badge 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar limited edition

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar blue

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar badge front 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar interior dash 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar gear shifter

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar elegance 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar eco 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar performance

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar lit up gear shifter 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar sport seats 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar dotted pedals

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar paddle shifters 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar tft display

 

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar engine t6 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar cargo 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar 20 inch pirelli wheels

 



Specifications:

型号 Model: 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar

顏色 Paint Type: Rebel Blue
廠方建議售價 Base Price: $66,895

試車售價 Price as Tested: $66,895
軸距 Wheelbase(mm): 2776
長闊 Length/Width/Height (mm): 4635 / 1864 / 1483
引擎 Engine: 3.0L inline-six twin-scroll turbo T6 engine
最大馬力 Horsepower: 345 hp @ 5700 rpm
最高扭力 Torque: 369 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm
波箱 Transmission: 6-speed automatic
擺佈 Engine & Drive Configuration: Front engine, Haldex All-wheel drive
煞制-前 Brakes-Front: Polestar/Brembo 6 piston brake calipers 371x32 mm ventilated and floating Brembo discs
煞制-後 Brakes-Rear: 302x22 mm ventilated discs

油耗 Fuel Consumption (Combined)- L/100 km: 10.2
輪胎尺碼 Tires: Pirelli SottoZero - 235/40R19

 

 



OTHER REVIEWS:

 

  • OTHER REVIEWS:

     

    2015 Volvo V60 R-Design

     

    2015 Volvo S60 Drive-E

     

    2015 Volvo V60 Drive-E