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2015 Volvo V60 Polestar First Test

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 11/10/2014 Scott Evans, Motor Trend Staff

If you're like us, you're really bummed Subaru killed the WRX STI wagon. Don't get us wrong -- the hatch was also great (and the wagon was always pretty hatchy, really), but Subaru took that away from us, too. Salvation, though, has come by way of Sweden, and it's not a new Saab.

It's the Volvo V60 Polestar, and unfortunately, it's an extremely short-lived salvation. See, Volvo only made 80 for the U.S. market, and they're all sold. We still wanted to test one, though, so you'll have a point of reference when one eventually pops up for sale on the Internet.

First, some info on the V60 Polestar for the uninitiated. Starting with the V60 R-Design, a small team of Polestar engineers made more than 50 changes to increase its performance cred. Eibach coilover springs envelop Ohlins Dual Flow Valve shocks and are 80 percent stiffer than stock. They also drop the ride height ever so slightly and are manually adjustable by turning a knob on the shock body. Stiffer bushings and mounts beef up the control-arm suspension, as does a carbon-fiber front strut bar and 15-percent stiffer front and rear anti-roll bars.

The Volvo V60 is a 2015 Motor Trend Car of the Year contender - find out before long whether it has what it takes to win.

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar In addition to turning better, it also stops better. Six-piston Brembo calipers reside behind the 20-inch front wheels and clamp 14.6-inch brake discs, while the 20-inch rear wheels wrap around the stock rear brakes, all of which are backed up by a new brake master cylinder. Those wheels come shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.

While the Polestar strongly resembles the standard V60 on the outside, things are different under the hood. Rather than Volvo's latest blown four-cylinder engines, the Polestar retains the outgoing 3.0-liter turbocharged inline-six in a fabulous last hurrah. A new twin-scroll turbocharger, thicker intercooler, and free-flowing exhaust jumped power by 20 horses and 15 lb-ft to 345 and 369, respectively.

Finally, the powertrain. The six-speed automatic (also in its last starring role) has had its shifts quickened and will no longer change gears while cornering. The power steering and stability control have been reprogrammed for high-performance driving. The Haldex all-wheel drive has been tuned to send more power rearward when stability control is deactivated (it's normally a 50/50 split) as well as during hard cornering, hard launches, or when using launch control.

Oh, and the car looks awesome, too.

So that's what you would've got had you been one of the lucky 80 to buy one of these new or what you can look forward to getting if you find one in a barn in Massachusetts someday. You'll also be getting these numbers: 0 to 60 mph in 5.0 seconds flat; a standing quarter mile completed in 13.5 seconds at 102.6 mph; a panic stop from 60 mph finished in 108 feet; 0.89 average g on a skidpad; and should you like to recreate our figure-eight test in your spare time, it'll run a 25.5-second lap at 0.74 average g.

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar Are those good numbers? Here are a few points of reference. Our front-drive, long-term V60 T5 with its 240-hp turbo-four and eight-speed automatic hit 60 mph in 6.8 seconds, ran the quarter mile in 15.2 seconds at 91.3 mph, and stopped from 60 mph in 125 feet. It also pulled 0.85 average g on the skidpad and a 27.1-second figure-eight lap at 0.63 average g. We haven't tested a V60 T6 yet, but we have tested a mechanically identical S60 T6 with a 302-hp turbocharged and supercharged four-cylinder and eight-speed auto driving the front wheels. That car hit 60 mph in 5.4 seconds, ran the quarter in 13.9 seconds at 101.8 mph, and stopped from 60 mph in 108 feet. On the skidpad, it pulled 0.88 average g and finished the figure eight in 26.3 seconds at 0.71 average g.

What of that WRX STI I was talking about earlier? Glad you asked. The new one, which only comes with a six-speed manual, hits 60 mph in 4.9 seconds and runs the quarter in 13.4 seconds at 102.4 mph. It'll stop from 60 mph in 105 feet and pull 0.89 g average on the skidpad. Finally, it'll lap our figure eight in 25.7 seconds at 0.74 average g. If the WRX STI is just too boy-racer for you, or will be in a few years' time, the V60 Polestar will be your Swedish huckleberry all day long.

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar But how does it drive? Well, if we're completely honest, it's not quite as fun as the STI. Aside from not having a manual option (unsurprising as Volvo hasn't built a manual transmission in long time), the six-speed auto is pretty good but not great. You're better off using the paddles than letting it do its own thing. It's also slightly more nose-heavy than the Subaru, though it feels more significant. If we could do only one thing to improve the Polestar, we'd make it understeer less. This all isn't to say the Polestar is bad to drive or not fun. In truth, it's a riot, and as you can see, the numbers are right on par with the STI. It feels like the car has some potential left in it if they could get the nose hooked up better. (Climbing under the car and adjusting the shocks could potentially help, though you're supposed to have the dealer do it.) It's otherwise up to spec with a broad powerband, strong brakes, and excellent body control.

No, it's not the E63 AMG Wagon or CTS-V Wagon competitor we may have dared hope for, but it is a serious sport wagon in a segment that's been deprived of them and a credible replacement for the guy whose old STI Wagon is on its last legs. It's a shame Volvo imported so few, but we're confident their owners will be happy with their treasures. The rest of us will just have to keep an eye on Craigslist. 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar


2015 Volvo V60 Polestar
BASE PRICE$61,825
PRICE AS TESTED$61,825
VEHICLE LAYOUTFront-engine, AWD, 5-pass, 4-door wagon
ENGINE3.0L/345-hp/369-lb-ft turbo DOHC 24-valve I-6
TRANSMISSION6-speed automatic
CURB WEIGHT (F/R DIST)3985 lb (60/40%)
WHEELBASE109.3 in
LENGTH x WIDTH x HEIGHT182.5 x 73.4 x 58.4 in
0-60 MPH5.0 sec
QUARTER MILE13.5 sec @ 102.6 mph
BRAKING, 60-0 MPH108 ft
LATERAL ACCELERATION0.89 g (avg)
MT FIGURE EIGHT25.5 sec @ 0.74 g (avg)
EPA CITY/HWY/COMB FUEL ECON18/27/21 mpg
ENERGY CONS., CITY/HWY187/125 kW-hrs/100 miles
CO2 EMISSIONS, COMB0.92 lb/mile

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar© Provided by MotorTrend 2015 Volvo V60 Polestar
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