Certainly, no one in their right mind could label this another "boring" Volvo - not by any stretch of the imagination. Photo Gallery
Chris Riley road tests and reviews the Volvo S60 Polestar with specs, fuel economy and verdict.
Picture this. The boss tells you that everyone at work is going to get a tattoo of the company logo to show their loyalty. Tick…tick…tick…would you do it?
The crazy, fun-loving Swedes at Volvo's skunkworks Polestar have done exactly that - all 30 of them (they're passionate about their brand).
Launched in 1996 and located in the city of Gothenburg, Polestar has been involved in motor racing for many years but has only recently turned its expert hand to building a road-going, go-fast Volvo. No one could accuse them of holding back.
With a turbo-charged 3.0-litre six, the all-wheel drive S60 Polestar produces an astounding 374kW of power (or 508 horsepower) and a thumping 575Nm of torque. It has a top speed of more than 300km/h and blasts from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds.
Polestar has built only one of the cars so far and word has it that it will soon be in the hands of that noted collector, US talk show host Jay Leno.
The price? A cool $US300,000. Jay's mechanic, "Volvo George" as he's nicknamed, is reported to own 75 Volvos himself, worked on the cars for 30 years and has apparently given the Polestar the thumbs up.
Sorry Jay. But there could be a slight delay in delivery mate. For one thing, we blew the clutch when test driving the beast at Volvo's proving ground outside Gothenburg this week. Well, not personally, but we were part of a crew of Australian journos who put the car in the pits for the rest of the day - luckily we got to drive it first (others weren't so lucky).
Finished in stunning Polestar blue with gunmetal grey 19 inch alloys, the S60 Polestar is a whole lotta car. Planning for a production version is still in the early stages, but the good news is that Australia is one of three countries that will be getting it - along with the UK and United States. Sitting 30mm lower than the already sporty T6 on which it is based, the guards and front and rear aprons have all been replaced with pumped out, carbon-fibre panels to accommodate the larger, wider wheels shod with 265/35 Michelins.
The track is 20mm wider and the body has been braced and reinforced to accommodate the extra demands of the powertrain that produces a massive 67 per cent more power than a standard T6. Power is fed to all four wheels through a six-speed manual tranny, Haldex clutch and limited slip rear diff. Prior to this, Polestar built a race going version of the C30 hatch from which it has drawn experience.
WHAT'S IT GO LIKE?
Bloody quick. It's difficult to get off the line cleanly, but hits hard once the big Garret turbocharger kicks in. It brakes hard too, late and deep into corners, with six-pot Brembo stoppers up front. Weighing in at an optimised 1640kg, the battery has been relocated to the boot to provide better weight distribution and to free up much needed room under the crowded bonnet (blocking the ski hatch in the process).
Although it hasn't signed off on the project its obvious Volvo plans to build a production version of the car but probably for a lot less - how close it is in spec to the original remains to be seen? What and how much will more than likely be determined by the competition, BMW's M3 and the Benz C63 AMG sedans - not forgetting the Lexus IS-F.
The cheapest, the IS-F, is priced from $127,000, the Benz from $153,000 and BMW M3 from $145,000 (Audi is yet to produce a new RS4). No matter how good the Volvo is, however, it's going to have an extremely difficult time persuading the cashed-up blokes that buy these cars to bypass any of these icons. Polestar's managing director Hans Baath said an initial run of 100 cars is planned but the company is not limited to this number.
As yet the company has done nothing to promote the car, but news of it has travelled fast mainly by word of mouth. What did they have in mind when designing the S60? "We're a race team and we didn't benchmark the car against anything really," he said. "We want you to do that." The car looks purposeful but fashionably understated in an Audi sort of way. But the note from the two, large bore exhausts soon gives the show away.
It's almost too much car, especially on the tight Volvo circuit with little room for runoff. We'd really need a couple of hours behind the wheel before feeling sufficiently comfortable to explore its limits. The engine revs to 7100rpm before the rev limiter kicks in which happens quickly, with holographic LEDs to indicate its time to change up.
The shift action of the close ratio box is light and the clutch pedal is not what you'd call heavy, but with a high takeup point. The electro-hydraulic steering is also relatively light for a sports model. The thing is the production version will really need to be offered with a self-shifter as an option, whether it’s an auto or twin clutch.
They are so much better at getting off the line quickly and, for those attracted by the lure of this tasty morsel - that's what it's all about (showing a clean pair of heels). We'll be interested to see what kind of time the car posts at the Nurburgring. Polestar says it has no plans to take it there, but it said the same thing about the previous C30 - only to be beaten by bad weather on the day.
Volvo Cars Australia is of course keen to get hold of the car, more for the halo effect that it will have on the brand than sales it will generate. Certainly, no one in their right mind could label this another "boring" Volvo - not by any stretch of the imagination.
The figures show Aussies are sports model focused, fixated almost with one in four Golfs sold being GTIs and one in 10 C-Class Benzs being C63AMGs. Volvo Cars Australia boss Matt Braid said sedans are the one weak link in the local lineup at the moment and the Polestar will have a huge spinoff in building the S60's profile. “The S60 sedan is a fantastic car in its own right but arguably that link will give us a leg up in credibility,'' he said.
Volvo S60 Polestar
Price: from $US300,000
Engine: 3.0-litre six turbo-charged, 374kW/575Nm
Transmission: six-speed manual, all wheel drive
Lexus IS-F - compare this car
Price: from $127,000
Engine: 5-litre V8, 311kW/505Nm
Transmission: 8-speed automatic
Thirst: 11.4l/100km, 270g/km CO2
BMW M3 Pure Edition - compare this car
Price: from $145,000
Engine: 4.0-litre V8 petrol; 309kW/400Nm
Transmission: 6-speed manual
Thirst: 12.4L/100km; 290g/km Co2
Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG - compare this car
Price: from $153,000
Engine: 6.2-litre V8, 336kW/600Nm
Transmission: 7-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Thirst: 12.1l/100km, CO2 283g/km