I've been driving the Volvo S60 Polestar over the last two days, simply commuting from home to the office — a distance of around 20 kilometres each way. The route is mostly slow moving, with the occasional opportunity to punch it for short bursts.
The S60 is already in its fifth year of production (though it had a facelift not so long ago) but it still looks good — a combination of sporty styling and classy lines.
The S60 Polestar launched last year as a 50-unit limited edition for Australia and takes performance to another level. So I couldn't wait to get behind the wheel of this "Rebel Blue" Volvo.
The S60 Polestar is definitely a "hot" bit of kit. With a Polestar-tuned 3.0-litre turbocharged six-cylinder under the bonnet, this thing will go from zero to 100km/h in 4.9 seconds. That makes it one-tenth of a second quicker than than an Audi S3, but three-tenths slower than the Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG.
Overall, there's a comfortable and classy feel to the S60 Polestar. The sports seats look the business and are upholstered in slip-resistant Alcantara. There's also plenty of stitched leather and metallic accents, as well as a few Polestar badges just to let you know you're driving something special.
However, I'm not a fan of the overly busy button-fest on the floating console — they're too small and there are too many of them.
The potent engine, brakes and tuned suspension are all standout items in my view, but I also love the subtle but beefed-up styling that includes the deep front splitter and oversized Polestar-stamped exhaust tips. Let's not forget the "Rebel Blue" paint job, it sure does get the looks.
The engine note sounds great, too — it's deep and throaty and a prefect match for the Polestar badge. As the top-shelf Volvo S60, there's also a full compliment of luxury features, including one if the best audio systems in the business from Meridian.
The only flaw, besides it's stratospheric $99,950 price tag, is the annoyingly slow-to-shift six-speed auto transmission. It gets better in Sport mode, but it's still a long way short of the more modern dual-clutch gearboxes, which not only offer a faster shift, but a more visceral and engaging driving experience.
That's the beauty of performance-enhanced four-door sedans. You get sports car performance with plenty of room for the family on the weekends. More importantly, the S60 Polestar gets a stack of active safety systems, such as active cruise control, lane keeping assistance, forward collision warning and Volvo's proprietary City Safety, which automatically brakes the car if the driver fails to react to an imminent collision under certain speeds.
As the performance car variant in the the S60 range, the Polestar version is thirstiest with a combined average fuel consumption of 10.2L/100km, though that's the same as the T6 R-Design version, which has less power and torque. The Polestar is covered by the same three-year/unlimited km warranty as the entire Volvo range.
The six-speed auto transmission is definitely a downer for me, though it's only really an issue when you're driving the car in a spirited manner. The price is way too expensive compared with the likes of the $86,900 Mercedes-Benz CLA45 AMG or even the $62,200 Audi S3 sedan, both of which are quicker than the Volvo.
What I really like about the S60 Polestar is its certified exclusivity. There aren't many around, which adds to the "feel-good" factor of driving this car. In other words, you feel a little bit special behind the wheel.
Both the Audi S3 and CLA45 AMG represent less expensive options for buyers that their performance with four doors and a boot. However, they don't offer the kind of exclusivity that the Volvo offers.
The Volvo aficionado who wants to stand out from the crowd and doesn't mind rising early on a Sunday morning for a spirited blast over the mountains.