Volvo is a company that's rediscovered its mojo. Still trading heavily on its core value of offering ultimate safety, the Swedish brand has infused it with a new-found sense of style, resulting in cars that you'd buy with your heart as well as your head. Now, it's teamed up with affiliated performance company Polestar to show that it can create cars with real driver appeal, too. We took to the wheel of its latest creation, the V60 Polestar, to see if it has succeeded.
What is it?
This is Volvo's super-exclusive new V60 Polestar. Limited to just 750 units around the world, only 125 are coming to the UK and represent the closest buyers can get to a Volvo racing car for the road. Polestar, Volvo's tuning partner, has been applying its craft to the sensible firm's motors since the mid-1990s. The V60 Polestar is the first proper collaboration between the two companies, though – up until now, the closest customers could get to a Polestar were power upgrades available at their local dealer for a small outlay.
What's under the bonnet?
Using Volvo's throaty 3.0-litre straight-six T6 engine as a starting point, Polestar has replaced the already-more-than-capable turbocharger for a new twin-scroll unit and overhauled intercooler, helping the car to throw out a more-than-healthy 345bhp. It means the estate car can get to 60mph in under five seconds, and produces a snarling exhaust note more akin to an Italian exotic than a sensible estate car.
The Polestar comes with all of the standard goodies a V60 T6 AWD R-Design would feature – so there's climate control, sat nav and much more. It gains racing seats, unique alloys and a bodykit – all for £49,775. There's a smattering of the requisite carbon fibre trim around the cabin too. Don't think they've thrown the baby out with the bath water, though - the cabin is as comfortable and cosseting as ever.
Audi and Mercedes dominate in the fast estate sector, with the RS4 and C63 AMG Estate respectively. Both are rapid and come with larger, more powerful engines, and both have more modern, upmarket cabins. However, they are both also more expensive and vastly less exclusive. While the Polestar is most likely to appeal to die-hard Volvo fans, there's certainly an appeal to driving a car that outwardly gives little hint of its performance potential - something that the Germans, with their blingy bodykits and huge alloy wheels, cannot pull off in the same way.
What's it like to drive?
The engine dominates the driving experience. The howling six-cylinder is a painful reminder that we won't be seeing this engine for much longer, as Volvo has decided to downsize its engine range. The reworked motor is backed up by a stiffened chassis, adjustable Ohlins shock absorbers, a set of dampers that are similar to those used in the Lamborghini Aventador, and a new 2.5-inch stainless steel exhaust system. It makes a big difference: The Polestar is responsive and entertaining to drive; it still understeers like every other Volvo - once you've exceeded the impressive levels of grip - but there's a real verve to the way this Polestar drives.
The AOL Cars verdict
Volvo and Polestar set out to build a performance estate car that could be "enjoyed 365 days of the year, not only on that perfect sunny Sunday". There's no doubt that they have managed that – it is a tremendously useable car and it gloriously harks back to fast Volvo estates of old. It is expensive though, and while there are only 125 units on offer, we can't help but feel only hardcore Volvo fans will shell out £50k on one. The Polestar is also the last hurrah of Volvo producing large and characterful engines – something that saddens us.
Model: Volvo V60 Polestar
Engine: 3.0-litre, turbocharged, six-cylinder, petrol
Power: 345bhp, 500Nm
Max speed: 155mph
MPG (combined): 27.7
CO2 emissions: 237g/km