More choice for the Indian auto enthusiast is something we always welcome and Volvo has just launched its Polestar performance brand with the S60 Polestar priced at a rather delicious Rs 52.5 lakh. Yup at this price it sits alone and has not rivals as cars that you can term as its rivals are priced more. It is around Rs 10 lakh more than the regular T6 petrol, yup a full blow performance sedan for half a crore makes it one of the most affordable performance cars but its price is just one of the reasons to buy. Yes, read on..
Polestar in essence is the performance brand of Volvo and the company was founded as a motorsport team in 1996 with the first performance car coming out in 2014. What India gets though is the latest S60 Polestar sedan. Same basic recipe as earlier gen, and only a few of the ingredients are new. The headline grabber is the engine. Good-bye, sideways straight-six; hello, Drive-E motor. For those not updated on Volvo lingo, Drive-E refers to Volvo's supercharged and turbocharged, 2.0-liter inline-four. For Polestar duty it has been souped up a touch with a new turbo, connecting rods, camshaft, fuel pump, and fuel filter, plus a larger air intake along with 3-inch "full-flow" exhaust systems that raise power from 345 to 362 horsepower. Torque is actually down a touch from 369 to 347 lb-ft, but seeing as how the cars are now 44 pounds lighter than before, you won't miss the torque.
Also new (yay!) for the 2017 Polestars is an eight-speed Geartronic automatic transmission. Not only are the paddle shifters, thankfully, new, but they also treat you to relatively quick gear changes when you pull them, a massive difference between the old Star and the new. The new eight-speed feeds a BorgWarner Haldex all-wheel-drive system that features a biased torque split of 40/60 front to rear. Combined with sticky Michelin Pilot Super Sport 245/35ZR20 tires, Volvo is claiming that the S60 can hit 100 km/h in 4.7 seconds. No word on the quarter mile, but both Polestars are limited to a top speed of 250 kmph. Braking duty is handled by Brembo-14.6-inch discs up front, 11.9-inch discs out back. The new wheels, sized 20 by 8 inches, sport a little Swedish Racing Green Polestar square. (The colors actually called Rebel Blue) Suspension changes feature 80 percent stiffer springs, 15 percent stiffer anti-roll bars, and new bushings. The body gets a little splitter below the nose and both a spoiler and diffuser in the rear. That splitter actually provides 46 pounds of downforce.
If you flip the transmission into Sport, you get a launch control mode. Even cooler (in a sense) is the secret Sport Plus mode. Remember the video game "Contra" with its famous up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, select, start routine to activate cheat mode? The new Polestar's Sport Plus is kinda like that. First thing you must do is make sure the car isn't moving. Then flip the transmission into Sport. Then with your right hand push the transmission lever forward (+) and hold it there. Simultaneously with your left hand pull the downshift (-) paddle twice. You'll see an orange S blink twice on the dash, and you did it. You're in Sport Plus mode. Thing is, Sport Plus mode doesn't do a whole lot. Basically, you're opening up the exhaust valves a little more and lengthening the shift points. But what it really does is prevent the engine from falling below 4,000 rpm. Personally, I found Sport Plus more manic than useful. And besides, with the paddle shifters, any driver is able to keep the revs at the right level. You exit Sport Plus mode by simply pulling a paddle or moving the shift lever. I'd call the whole thing more theater than effective.
Although we did spend some time lapping a track, the Polestars are also happier on winding mountain roads. On the track, the FWD-based nature of the chassis shows up. But on the road, it's as solid and planted to drive. Understeer doesn't show up too terribly unless you're really pushing things, like you would on a racetrack. On the road, the front end of either Polestar feels both lighter and stiffer than before. Turn in was sharp and crisp. Grip on the road was outstanding, surely due to a combination of the adjustable ohlins dampers, the rest of the suspension, and the wise decision to slap on Michelin Super Sports.
In terms of looks, Volvo has quietly started building some of the best-looking cars in the industry. We love the massive wheels and low-slung look with the race car styling especially all the added aero bits, spoiler etc. There are only two colours but just forget and get this blue one ok? Inside you get superb seats- Volvo trademark plus all the usual gadgets and safety tech that the standard S60 has. So should you buy the S60 Polestar? Yes. Forget the price, it is fast and fun on this evidence being a serious performance car rather than a warm sports saloon. Put the price in and it is a bargain. Plain and simple.
Words- Jonny Lieberman and Somnath Chatterjee