Volvo S60 Polestar

New twin-charged four-potter gets off to a bumpy start

by SCOTT NEWMAN

ENGINE 1969cc inline-4cyl, DOHC, 16v, turbo, S/C / POWER 270kW @ 6000rpm / TORQUE 470Nm @ 3100rpm / WEIGHT 1664kg / 0-100KM/H 4.7sec (claimed) / PRICE $89,990 WHEN Volvo announced it would no longer be building engines with more than four cylinders, it immediately cast doubt over its future performance models, however the S60 Polestar, and its wagon-backed V60 twin, live on, albeit with a downsized heart. This is concerning news, however, as the 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six engine has always been the Polestarís strongest point.

On paper, however, the new 2.0-litre turbocharged AND supercharged fourcylinder delivers the goods. Power is up 13kW to 270kW at 6000rpm, though torque drops around 30Nm to 470Nm at 3100rpm. The new engine cuts 24kg from the Polestarís nose and combined with the new eight-speed automatic shaves 0.2sec off the 0-100km/h sprint to a competitive 4.7sec.

Itís a strange engine, but not in a bad way. Itís been mapped very cleverly to feel like a larger capacity naturallyaspirated unit; the supercharger eliminates any turbo lag, yet the engine still needs revs to deliver its best, which means thereís a satisfying reward to extending it.

It sounds and feels fairly coarse, but the odd hint of supercharger whine and parps on upshifts imbue it with some character. Forget about fuel economy if you use the performance, however, as we averaged almost 18L/100km. The new eight-speed auto is reasonably intelligent if left to its own devices in Sport mode, though its shift speed is nowhere near as snappy as the latest dual-clutches and it still has the odd low-speed stumble around town.

The S60ís biggest downfall is its confused chassis. As youíd expect from Volvo, the handling errs towards security over entertainment, though the electronics are lenient enough to allow some movement in Sport mode. The steering is slow but linear and well-weighted and the brakes hold up reasonably well to continued punishment, though the pedal is quite soft. All in all, it adds up to a quick, competent Ė if not terribly exciting Ė luxury sports sedan, but this is sadly undermined by a ride quality that would be more appropriate in a Porsche 911 GT3.

It doesnít crash or bang, but itís extremely firm and while the constant jiggling is excusable in something as potent as a GT3 or Mercedes-AMG C63, to be blunt the Polestar possesses nowhere near the level of dynamic ability to compensate. Add in the S60ís ageing architecture Ė though in its defence the button-fest is quite easy to use and the seats are greatĖ and in the face of newer rivals like the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43 itís tough to make a case for it, even with the sharp new $89,990 sticker.

The S60 Polestar is a much improved car since its introduction in 2013 (not to mention $20K cheaper!), but the gameís moved on and it doesnít seem to know what it wants to be. Thereís a place in the market for a fast, desirable Volvo, but this ainít it. M

STAR RATING 3.0

Like

Grunty engine; cool looks; lower price

Dislike

Brutal ride; ageing interior; lacks involvement