First drive: the new 362bhp four-cylinder Volvo V60 Polestar – Top Gear

What’s this?

This is still a Volvo V60 that’s had a seeing to from Volvo’s now in-residence tuning arm Polestar. It’s not been facelifted. Yet it has actually got a new, a lot smaller engine.

Since the Swedes announced a strategy to unleash a maelstrom of brand-new cars on a shared platform and make them nigh-on uncrashable, one piece of write-up has actually hung in the ether adore a spectre. Only four-cylinder engines, from hereon out.

Yes, some would certainly be teamed along with electric assistance, as per the XC90 T8 Twin Engine, Yet along with the vice-grip of environmental tension increasing on petrol and diesel engines, Volvo committed to a four-cylinder turbo-only future. Bye-bye lusty five-pot and throaty straight-six motors.

This left the V60 Polestar pretty out in the cold. Since it was powered, you’ll remember, by a 3.0-litre turbocharged straight-six. The vital word in that sentence is ‘was’.

So, Exactly what have actually we got now. A hybrid?

Nope, merely the petrol-burning bit in the form of Volvo’s most powerful road-going 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo ever. One of the world’s pokiest, in fact. The brand-new Polestar wields 362bhp, up from 350bhp in the straight-six car.

It’s turbocharged and supercharged, for mega shove and decent throttle response free of the hassle of having to package and cool a bulkier twin-turbo set-up. There’s much less torque, Yet it’s a small reduction from 369lb ft to 347lb ft.

To put it an additional way, imagine if Mercedes took the batty ’45 AMG engine from the hot A-class, and planted it in to a C-class estate. That’s the sort of template we’re talking here.

And Exactly what are the results?

On paper, all of good news. Along with the boosted power, weight is down (despite the multitude of forced induction gubbins) by 24kg at the front axle, and though a brand-new gearbox adds some weight spine in, Volvo says it’s shifted the centre of mass spine so the automobile is now much better balanced across its axles. The result is you’ll go from 0-62mph in 4.8 seconds (down from 5.0 seconds in the old Polestar), and run on to 155mph.

So we’re not talking full-on C63 AMG or M3 performance, Yet the V60 will certainly easily sustain a milder, similarly 4×4 Audi S4 or Mercedes C450 AMG honest.

It’s additionally now vastly a lot more economical on the official cycle offering a claimed 34.9mpg (previously 27.7mpg) and emitting 186g/km of CO2.

What’s it adore to drive?

Despite the supercharger, the V60 doesn’t leap off the line along with a cursory prod of the throttle (it’s an 1,800kg automobile along with a driver inside). The automobile does begin to surge beyond 3,000rpm, and the good news is it’s perfectly tractable and simple to mooch regarding in. The gearbox is a significant boon here, Yet we’ll talk regarding that in a moment.

Noise-wise, well, it’s a four-cylinder. So it’s rorty here and blarey there Yet not overwhelmingly musical, despite the most effective efforts of an energetic Feritta exhaust (Yet no fake speaker cheating inside). Volvo’s a carmaker, not a magician. Four-cylinders rarely sound fruiter compared to an excellent six. Very same applies here.

It’s quick across the ground once the engine’s wound up, along with the supercharger disconnecting via its own little clutch to leave the turbo puffing hard as the revs climb. From 6,000 to 7,000rpm the motor at last comes alive and growls meaningfully, and relishes that last dash to the redline.

Polestar is hugely proud that the 2.0-litre ‘Drive-E’ engine shares internal components along with the team’s WTCC racecar – to the point that the portions are entirely interchangeable. At the top of the revs, you finally get hold of the sense there’s some track-honed blood and thunder regarding the V60.

Now, the gearbox. Wasn’t that one of the ‘old’ Polestar’s Achilles heel?

It wasn’t dreadful, Yet the six-speed auto was a tad old-hat. That’s gone in the bin, and now we’ve got an eight-speeder. So, Volvo gets healthier eco-figures, as a result of the longer cruising ratios, and the shorter stacked getaway gears assist acceleration. Good news.

But that’s all of stuff the spec sheet can easily tell you. Exactly what you do should already know is that the transmission is a delight to use, offering delightfully crisp upshifts and rapid response on the downshift. The paddles are tactile, it farts as quickly as you upchange on part-throttle and it’s perfectly polite as quickly as left in auto mode too. Good work, Volvo.

How does it handle?

Quick and secure, free of ever feeling overtly entertaining. It actually reminded me of an Audi S3 – the Very same locked-down personality, tight physique control, immense grip, and rapid otherwise gobsmacking pace. Similar noise, too, come to believe of it.

The damping is actually clever, though – it feels adore it’ll be a spot on compromise for the UK – which is especially impressive offered it rides on 20-inch rims along with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres painted on as an afterthought. It’s an adjustable stiffness too, though via old-school spanners on the dampers themselves, pretty compared to a show-off button on the dash.

Weirdly, the all-wheel drive system remains in a mainly front-drive split until you delve in to the menus to switch the ESC off. After that you get hold of a 50:50 split, so the automobile still handles adore a front-drive automobile along with infinite traction pretty compared to anything remotely tail-happy. And you’re not as on your very own as it may appear – the ESC isn’t totally off, in case it detects you’re panicking, and there’s so a lot grip you barely reason the electric nanny anyway.

Is it expensive?

Ah, yes. regarding that. The old six-cylinder V60 Polestar cost £49,785, and now it’s lost cylinders and gained power, it’s not obtaining any kind of cheaper. Official prices aren’t sorted yet, Yet Volvo told us it’ll probably be a tad pricier compared to the last car, while still ducking under the £50k barrier.

So there are two cars here. The likeable, satisfying, sure-footed quick estate you fall for prior to you learn the price, and the dated insides, flat-sounding, not overtly exciting Volvo you pay lightly used C63 AMG your hard earned cash for after you find its dark secret. Fifty grand is an awful, awful lot of your hard earned cash for a automobile that, though technically moving in the right direction, doesn’t feel as naughty or lovable as it used to.

Then again, it’ll be rather rare – merely 1200-1500 will certainly be made, depending on need – and a optimum of 1twenty make UK landfall. Plus, Volvo admits most of the owners of the old Polestar weren’t ex-Audi or BMW M disciples, Yet hardcore Volvo supporters who’ve been after a fast Swede (Yet discover Koenigseggs a touch impractical) for ages.

For that tiny band of enthusiasts, I believe they’ll actually adore Exactly what they discover here, and so will certainly a brave few others. The Polestar’s not the last word in finesse and fast wagon fun, Yet in all of weathers, on all of roads, for all of occasions, it’d be a cracking under-the-radar daily driver.