Don’t go into the Volvo S60 Polestar expecting an out-and-out M3/C63 fighter. Yes, it’s got big wheels, big brakes, and lots of spoilers that suggest it’s a Hardcore Sports Sedan, but that’s not really what this Volvo is all about.
Instead, you should look at this Volvo as the goofy, Swedish antidote to the more serious BMW 340i xDrive, Mercedes-Benz C450 AMG and the Audi S4. The Polestar has around the same amount of horsepower. In some ways, the Volvo falls behind its rivals, but if you get the chance to drive it, you won’t care.
Most of the Polestar’s problems stem from the fact that this is ultimately an old car, though you shouldn’t fault Volvo for its age. The 60-series platform first debuted in 2008, at the tail end of Ford’s tumultuous ownership of Volvo. Ford’s sale of Volvo left the company without the resources to develop an outright replacement for the 60-series cars.
This Volvo S60 Polestar just wants you to have fun in spite of its apparent drawbacks, and isn’t fun the whole point of a sports sedan? People buy sports sedans because they need something practical, but don’t want to give up the joy that a purpose-built sports cars offers. The S60 Polestar sacrifices none of its sensible Volvo-ness, but adds a significant helping of joy to the package, not to mention some seriously good looks.
Behind the wheel, in first and second gear, letting the ridiculous noise from the turbocharged people will give you funny looks because, well, you’re driving a bright blue Volvo that sounds like an angry turbocharged BMW.
The biggest gripe with the Polestar’s driving experience is the transmission, which is all sorts of clunky on downshifts. They’re incredibly slow compared to the ZF 8-Speed used by Jaguar and BMW, but more egregiously, they aren’t rev-matched.
That means it’s easy to throw the Polestar’s balance all out of whack when you’re downshifting under braking. All of this is moot though, because the 2017 Polestar gets a new 8-speed auto in tandem with its new engine.
Even though it comes with all sorts of serious performance car hardware, the Polestar isn’t compromised as a daily driver. As you’d expect from a Volvo, the seats are amazingly comfortable and supportive, the safety tech is top-notch, and if the sedan’s not big enough for you, get the wagon. It’s this mix of practicality and uninhibited fun that makes the S60 Polestar such a compelling package. In other words, it’s the ideal sports sedan.