Driven - Jan 2017

Smaller engine, more power: New Volvo S60 Polestar

Normally a model refresh or “face-lift” comprises of some subtle visual changes. With performance cars, the manufacturer usually adds some extra power to keep buyers happy.  In the case of the Volvo S60 Polestar, Volvo have taken a slightly different approach. They have done away with the original 3.0 litre in-line six cylinder turbocharged engine and replaced it with a four-cylinder supercharged and turbocharged Drive-E version. A car that produced 258kW now makes 270kW. This sounds a bit drastic for a mere 12kW gain in power. The changes don’t end there, though. The 6 Speed automatic gearbox on the original S60 Polestar reminded one of performance cars from yesteryear and we lamented how that was the cars biggest flaw. Now, however, an 8 Speed fast shifted gearbox has taken the reins to make the car feel more modern.


Big changes, little gains?

Volvo’s efforts to please its target markets needs did not go wasted. The reduction in weight from the smaller engine surely adds a different feel to the car. There is a reinvigorated zeal in the new model to do things faster, where the old model suffered from delayed reaction times. The shift speed of the new gearbox is also most welcome in this new model. Up-shifts are quicker and the new ratios have made for a more exciting driving experience. As a whole, this new setup is very good. Yes, we miss the noise of the old girl but the hot hatch sounding engine tone in the new car is not bad, especially when Sport mode is engaged via the gearbox. The move from turbo-charging to twin charging (supercharging and turbo-charging) may seem slightly old school in a time where twin-scroll turbochargers are the preferred choice by many, but in this case, it works as there is minimal lag.

Comfort first, performance second

In my opinion, the most enjoyable aspect of the new S60 Polestar is how it doesn’t compromise on providing a comfortable driving experience. After all, being a large sedan a car like this will usually be bought by someone who has a family. For that purpose, the ride quality and ample legroom and boot space, will surely keep that client happy. Even as a childless single adult, I could appreciate driving in the standard mode, knowing I have the power to overtake without having to use it. That being said, the Polestar is still a Volvo and modern Volvo’s come standard with enough technology to rival Apple. This is not a bad thing, but it can become intrusive. Lane departure assist is great, but seeing a quick gap on the highway and taking it may be problematic as the car will veer the car back into the line, thinking you’re falling asleep. Being in the city also means that cars naturally travel closely behind each other. When approaching another vehicle from behind at speed,  the anti-collision system beeps at you, to alarm you of a potential rear ending. For someone on the move and in a rush constantly, you may want to turn off some of the systems to cope with the fact that your car thinks you’re a bad driver. Besides that, you can sit back in the leather and Alcantara seats, play your music through the fantastic sound system and revel at the fact that your car is more blue than most people’s.


Great for its age.   

The fact that we can compare an S60 Polestar to its competitors and still enjoy it is a huge feat for Volvo. The reason for this is because to put it simply; the entire S60 range is old. The exterior and interior design has not been changed in a while whilst the competition’s cars are much newer. One looks forward to the new S60, especially since cars like the XC90 and soon to be launched S90 look and feel great. We hope to see the model that will replace this car emerge soon. For now, though, Volvo aficionados and eccentric individuals looking for something different have something, fast, blue and nimble to enjoy.


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