“This car is properly quick,” Niels Möller, Chief Operating Officer at Polestar
For the uninitiated, Polestar is to Volvo what M is to BMW and AMG is to Mercedes. As a fairly new entrant into the competitive business of making road cars racier, many of you might be scratching your heads wondering what this offshoot brand represents, where they came from, what have they have achieved and why they have come to be the performance division of the manufacturer from Sweden, who traditionally in the past, has made safe, fairly boring family station wagons?
A Racing Pedigree
Volvo has for many years been involved in racing, from rallying to hill climb events, and racing events around Europe, Volvo’s status for building robust cars grew a reputation which saw drivers around the world try their hands at racing just about any Volvo that had emerged from Gothenburg.
From the PV444 which with Gunnar Andersson at the helm drove to victory at the 4650km Gran Premio of Argentina to the iconic Volvo 850 T5-R Estate which tore up the racing circuits around Europe in the 90s competing in the British Touring Car Championship (BTCC), Volvo has been synonymous with racing, albeit in a far more low-key manner.
Polestar was founded in 1996, then under the name Flash Engineering, by racing driver Jan ”Flash” Nilsson who partnered with Volvo to run the factory team in the inaugural Swedish Touring Car Championship season. Success followed with consecutive STCC titles and a second place in 1998 which was also the year the team expanded to a two-car factory outfit.
Volvo and Flash Engineering would continue to enjoy competitive success over the years with tough competition coming from the likes of Audi, BMW, Ford, Opel and Peugeot. In 2001, Future (Polestar) CEO Christian Dahl joined the team as chief mechanic, and in 2005 the name was officially changed to Polestar, a name chosen by Christian Dahl to represent the frozen north of Sweden with the pole star, and also connecting Volvo’s pole position and star of racing.
Polestar broke several records in the 2009 STCC season with the Volvo C30 piloted by Robert Dahlgren and Tommy Rustad who managed to claim all pole positions, a record still standing today. The pair managed to claim both the drivers’ and teams’ title.
2013 saw the introduction of Polestar’s first production model in the form of the Volvo S60 Polestar. The car was launched in a limited edition of 100 cars to the Australian market as an evaluation for future expansion.
In 2014 Thed Björk made it two out of two by claiming the STCC drivers’ title for the second year in succession, with teammate Fredrik Ekblom finishing third overall. 2014 also saw Polestar making its Australian V8 Supercars debut in style with driver Scott McLaughlin finished fifth overall taking five victories, ten podium finishes and ten pole positions.
In 2015 Volvo Cars purchased the performance division of Polestar, making it the new performance brand of Volvo Cars, and in 2016 the new Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar variants were unveiled in France, with only the S60 making its way to South Africa in a very limited run of just 45 units available locally.
Volvo’s Quickest Sedan, Just Got Quicker
Unsurprisingly this is the quickest road-going Volvo ever and in 2017 sports a completely new drivetrain which has been enhanced for both performance and efficiency. With Volvo’s Drive-E engine now taking centre stage, it also shares a closer relation to its road-going brethren.
“This car is properly quick,” says Niels Möller, Chief Operating Officer at Polestar. “But it’s more than that. It combines Polestar’s 20 years of racing pedigree with Volvo’s inherent pragmatism and engineering heritage. This is a very fast car that you can use every day of the year.”
Developing 270kW/470Nm and replacing the outgoing 3.0-litre version, the new 2.0-litre Drive-E engine is both turbocharged and supercharged and has been developed alongside a 1.6-litre version of the same engine which currently powers the Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 racing cars, which are piloted by Thed Björk and Robert Dahlgren in the FIA World Touring Car Championship (WTCC).
Thed Björk elaborates: “While used in vastly different areas, these cars share more than just technology. The core philosophy is the same, developed by people with the same passion. It is about creating a performance that can be used in all situations, no matter whether it’s about winning a championship or being able to enjoy a safe, functional and fun-to-drive car all year round.”
Sending all that power to all four wheels via a BorgWarner all-wheel drive system, the S60 Polestar can hit 100km/h in just 4.7 seconds and will continue on to a and electronically limited top speed of 250km/h. Shifting through a new 8-speed Geartronic automatic gearbox which said to be performance optimised to suit the S60 Polestar’s nature.
It might be hard to believe it, but the same engine can be found in the standard Volvo S60 T6 AWD. However, the engine in S60 Polestar does receive a few performance upgrades such as a bigger turbo, new conrods, new camshafts, a larger intake and a higher-capacity fuel pump to achieve the increased power and torque figures. Crucially with the added performance of the new model, average fuel economy on the combined cycle has been reduced to 7.8-litres per 100 km, and carbon emissions have come down to 179 g/km – a significant reduction of 22.5 per cent over the previous model.
Hauling the S60 Polestar to a standstill are brake callipers by Polestar/Brembo featuring six pistons up front and four at the rear. And for those with the nous and enthusiasm, the Polestar features fully adjustable dampers by the renowned manufacturer, Öhlins. Track day anyone?
Naturally, this Volvo also features a complete arsenal of safety equipment as standard, including six airbags, ABS, EBA, BAS, HAS, ESC and IntelliSafe, which besides City Safety (AEB) includes the likes of Lane Departure Warning, Pedestrian Detection, Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert, Road Sign Information and a Driver Alert system.
The new Volvo S60 Polestar will retail in South Africa for a recommended price of R749 500 which includes a 5-year/ 100 000 km full vehicle warranty, and 5-year/ 100 000 km full maintenance plan.