Rebel Blue. It’s a perfect name for the hue this Volvo is presented in, because the V60 Polestar is exactly that: a bit of a rebel, a misfit, a left-field choice for anyone wanting performance and style in a rare, intelligently designed vehicle.
Space and pace don’t often come together like this, and if, like me, you sometimes get a bit fed up with the ubiquity of German performance saloons in this region, it makes a fascinating alternative.
Volvo is a car company at the top of its game right now, having been sold by Ford to Geely, a Chinese manufacturing group, in 2010. Geely has, sensibly, just let the Swedes get on with what they want to do, while providing financial support, and that freedom has resulted in a beautiful new design language and incredible new technologies.
Since Volvo’s formation in 1927, occupant and pedestrian safety has been its driving force, but on the basis of my time with the V60 Polestar, it seems to have started having a bit of fun, too.
If you’re unfamiliar with the Polestar moniker, it’s a race-car-tuning company in Sweden that Volvo bought and turned into its version of AMG, for want of a better analogy. And this is the result of its fettling of the V60 T6 R-Design, itself a very accomplished performer.
It’s a gorgeous thing to behold, with a well-judged balance of sleekness and aggression, making no secret of its pent-up performance potential. The alloy wheels are exquisite, too, although the spokes stand slightly proud of the super-low-profile tyres, meaning they will no doubt get seriously kerbed before long.
The interior is well-constructed from quality materials, although the style isn’t as stunning as the new XC90, S90 or V90 – models that bring an all-new design flair to the brand and set new standards in their sectors – but it’s still a pleasant space in which to spend your time.
The seats are very comfortable, the controls are simple and intuitive, and the steering wheel, trimmed in leather and Alcantara, is a beautiful thing to hold in your hands. The infotainment screen is small, however, compared to its German rivals, and the rear accommodation isn’t as spacious as you might expect in a car of its physical dimensions.
But get on the gas and you realise what the Polestar edition is all about: performance. Unusually, there are no optional extras available for this model, with absolutely everything coming as standard equipment, which includes enormous Brembo brakes and Öhlins adjustable sports suspension. The engine is a turbocharged 3.0L, six-cylinder unit mated to a six-speed gearbox and a Haldex four-wheel drive system.
This all translates into confidence-inspiring ground covering capabilities, with the car remaining totally unfazed by whatever you put it through. It corners remarkably flatly for a car that weighs the best part of two tonnes, and never feels anything less than urgent. It sounds fantastic, too, with Polestar’s exhaust system liberating engine noises that add to the impression of speed, throughout the rev range of its remarkably flexible engine.
Volvo claims this car can hit 100kph from standstill in five seconds flat, and it’s electronically limited to 250kph – impressive numbers for any car, never mind a practical load lugger. There’s always a trade-off when balancing high-speed stability and ride comfort, and the Polestar’s only real weakness is that it never manages to be totally refined, even on perfectly smooth tarmac – you can feel the road surface at all times.