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Volvo V60 Polestar

PUBLISHED: 17:16 02 August 2014

Volvo V60 Polestar

Volvo V60 Polestar

Archant

How the Swedish marque has developed a true driver's car for all weathers, all roads and all year

Sporting chance

After years in the shadow of the mighty German premium brands, Volvo fancies its chances of challenging the established order.

Now owned by Chinese car giant Geely, there’s the cash for research and development and, with both ingenuity and some stealth, the Swedish marque has began making headway with its powerful yet frugal DRIVe diesel engines.

However, as its German rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz and Audi have shown, it’s not all about pandering to economy and tax efficiency; you do need some performance image and snobbery about the badge.

So, it is now starting to market the connection with Polestar Racing, Volvo’s factory racing team, by developing the new £49,775 V60 Polestar.

Volvo says it is a true driver’s car for all-year, all roads and all weathers; in short, a driver’s car for real life.

By choosing an estate body the brand is also calling on a heritage of past and potent racing estates wearing the Volvo badge.

With typical Volvo thoroughness, the car’s driving characteristics have been honed by thousands of development miles on twisty mountain roads, motorways, and test tracks at Europe’s most extreme temperature zones.

That it now drives differently to a standard V60 is obvious, but the Polestar also has its own distinctive nose and cosmetic details, emphasising the standard V60’s racy ‘estate cum coupe’ lines even more, while also boosting aerodynamics.

Chassis upgrades mean 80 per cent stiffer springs than the standard V60 line-up’s sporting star, the R-Design. It also has bespoke 20-inch Polestar alloys, plus beefier six-piston Brembo calipers for better braking.

Power comes from a six-cylinder turbocharged T6 engine uprated to 350bhp and delivering the required throaty sound of a performance car via a 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system.

This power is then applied via a six-speed automatic gearbox to a Polestar-developed all-wheel drive system, allowing 0-62mph in just five seconds, top speed being electronically limited to 155mph.

Even the interior has a distinctive Polestar look, with bespoke steering wheel and seats.

But fear not, you gentler Volvo fans, because while the Swedes have been busy on the Polestar, they have also been developing a green V60 flagship for the other extreme of the range, but still with a touch of devilment about it: the sporty looking D6 AWD R-Design Lux Nav (£51,675 excluding £5,000 Plug-In Car Grant).

Volvo V60 Polestar

Price: from £49,775

Driving appeal: ***** (estimated)

Image: *****

Space: ****

Value: ****

Running costs: ***

Reliability: ****

How green?: **

Best rival: BMW 335i Touring M Sport

News in brief

MINI hatch gets five-doors

Addressing long-term complaints that the three-door MINI hatchback is too cramped in the back for some would-be buyers, the BMW brand will launch a five-door variant for the first time, this autumn. Priced from £15,900, the newcomer will have 72mm more rear legroom than its three-door sister, plus a third rear seat and 278 litres of boot space - 67 litres extra.

Happy 80th to Traction Avant

Citroen is celebrating the 80th anniversary of the famous Traction Avant 7A model of 1934. The ‘Traction Avant’ label came through public acclaim, due to its ground-breaking front-wheel drive system - a layout which only became common in the 1960s. The low-slung newcomer was fast and economical, with peerless roadholding for that era, and enjoyed a 23-year production life.

Peugeot gears up for 308

Peugeot’s ambition to move upmarket appears to be bearing fruit, with such high demand for its smart all-new 308 family hatchback, that the French marque had to boost production more than expected to accommodate the summer launch of its equally stylish SW estate version. The SW also has practicality to go with its looks; the 660-litre boot is the largest in its segment.

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