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Volvo S60 Polestar MY13 2014 review

Paul Gover road tests and reviews the Volvo V60 Polestar.

This has been a landmark year for Volvo. The brand has established itself as a new powerhouse in V8 Supercar racing and has spun its on-track success into a road car — the S60 Polestar — that's more than just a Swedish safety machine.

It's also introduced us to the delightful and youthful Scott McLaughlin, a current and future motorsport star.

The S60 Polestar is a lot like McLaughlin, as it's been a work-in-progress and is just being recognised outside the insular world of motorsport.

The car is easy to pick with its signature pale blue bodywork, the same colour used in racing and now also applied to a V60 wagon. It's the first time the Polestar package has been applied to a wagon after two goes at the sedan.

Giant alloy wheels with over-sized brakes at each corner end any potential confusion.

I'm well acquainted with the Polestar car after a series of preview drives, and now I have the finished item on home ground for a full week. My best mate, Mark, who drove a Volvo 240 back in the day, is waiting to hear the verdict and I'm keen myself to know how it goes.

As a refresher, the S60 Polestar is a Swedish project run by the same engineering group that's responsible for Volvo's home ground race programs. But the focus has been on Australia, not just because of the V8 Supercar program but because our tough roads and eager drivers are great for development work.

The original Polestar car was underdone in a number of areas. The second iteration brought better brakes and seats and paddle-shifters for the six-speed auto. Now we have the big hitter that's also been rolled into Volvo showrooms around the world.

The Polestar package is built around a 3.0-litre turbo petrol engine and all-wheel drive, and also picks up such predictable gear as well-bolstered seats, small rear spoiler, front airdam and Polestar blue stitching and badges.

What's less predictable are the truly excellent Ohlins dampers, tuned by people who really know suspension. Every performance car should have suspension as good as this.

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  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
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  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
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  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar
  • 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar 2014 Volvo S60 Polestar

The latest S60 safety package includes auto emergency braking, radar cruise, lane-departure and blind-spot warnings, and a cabin full of airbags.

For me, this S60 is the Evo3 — that's what Mitsubishi would call it — and I'm going to be a tough marker. I already know the car is good, but is it great?

Volvo Australia originally talked about the Polestar car not nearly edgy enough. It has real power, is great for overtaking or mountain roads but it doesn't crack to the red-line like something with an AMG or M badge.

It's also a little ponderous when you push to the limit, although the brakes and 20-inch wheels are terrific and the tuning of the six-speed auto is spot-on when you go for manual shifting.

The S60 Polestar is quick and composed, relaxing and rewarding

Around town, the Polestar car is almost as user-friendly as a regular S60, although the boot is a bit cramped and the sculpting of the rear bench means it works best as a four-seater for adults.

It's quiet and very comfortable, even with an active sports exhaust, and has the carved-from-solid feel I expect from a Benz. Or a Volvo.

I like knowing there is a Volvo safety net, although I'm not impressed when the proximity warning sounds repeatedly — and flashes a bank of red lights in my face — as I drive past parked cars on a twisty suburban road.

Out in the country, the S60 Polestar is quick and composed, relaxing and rewarding.

But I question the price tag, which tops $100,000 by the time you get it on the road, and also the positioning. Who will buy the car, apart from Volvo people who see it as a dream car? It's a terrific tourer but does not deliver on the V8 Supercar promise.

That's not because it's missing a V8 in the nose but because it's not sharp enough and — am I really writing this? — not raw enough.


The Polestar car is very good but it's too expensive and not sharp enough.

I really enjoy driving it but would not recommend it to best friend Mark. So it's no tick.

Pricing guides

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Range and Specs

D4 Kinetic 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $17,700 – 24,640 2014 Volvo S60 2014 D4 Kinetic Pricing and Specs
D4 Luxury 2.0L, Diesel, 6 SP AUTO $17,000 – 23,650 2014 Volvo S60 2014 D4 Luxury Pricing and Specs
Polestar 3.0L, PULP, 6 SP AUTO $29,400 – 38,500 2014 Volvo S60 2014 Polestar Pricing and Specs
T4 Kinetic 1.6L, PULP, 6 SP DUAL-CLUTCH AUTO $16,300 – 22,660 2014 Volvo S60 2014 T4 Kinetic Pricing and Specs
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