Road Test: Volvo V60 T6 AWD R-Design Polestar
Sector: Compact executive Price: £39,220 Fuel: 28.5mpg CO2: 237g/km
With a reputation for building safe family carriers and lifestyle cars, it’s almost easy to forget that Volvo has a back-catalogue of characterful and slightly unhinged high-performance estate cars under its belt too.
Only treated to the limelight in mid-90s touring car racing with the 850R and a long-standing career with the UK’s police forces, they’re an often-forgotten bloodline against the (usually more accomplished) German mainstream.
Volvo’s latest low-key thug is this purposeful-looking V60, boosted by an under-bonnet software tweak from Polestar, the Swedish tuning company responsible for building its touring cars. Marked out only by an inch-square blue badge on the tailgate, the £660 upgrade takes the already far-from-timid straight-six turbo from 304bhp to a lairy 329bhp and hauls the estate to 62mph in just over 5.5 seconds. All without affecting the warranty or fuel efficiency.
This is a fast Volvo cut from the traditional recipe – a big engine, large turbo, kick-in-the-back power delivery and an automatic gearbox trying hard to make sense of the chaos. It’s hilarious in ways plenty of faster machinery can’t match, pressing driver and passengers deep into their backrests with each squeeze of the throttle and eating up straight road sections with alarming, licence-risking urgency.
There’s plenty of grip from the four-wheel drive and Ford underpinnings means it’ll
corner, too, while the ride is just supple enough for UK roads. Steering is firm but a little numb, and the only real drawback is the comfort-tuned automatic gearbox, which is too keen to upshift even in sport mode and best operated manually to keep the engine in its sweet spot. A little more exhaust noise from higher revs would add to the driver appeal, too.
Sensible doesn’t really come into the decision making process. This isn’t a car you can recommend on its cost or environmental benefits. But it’s a straight line missile that makes you feel five years old, and a slightly avant-garde alternative to the German performance estates. After all, it’s just an understated, safe and practical Volvo estate, isn’t it?
This is very much a niche model, especially against the plentiful power offered by the much more efficient Polestar-tuned D5. But the V60 represents huge fun for drivers prepared to ignore the mid-20s fuel efficiency and associated hike in CO2 output, while being a little more understated than its rivals.