I’ve never taken an electronics shop for a hot lap of the Nurburgring, but if I did, I have a feeling it would be much like my recent experience in the Volvo V60 T6 Polestar. Not only is the car loaded with technical gadgetry and wizardry, but it’s also a bit rapid.
The headline figures say it all. A 6-cylinder 3.0 litre engine, 329bhp and a top speed limited to 155mph, so there’s no doubting the performance. But to borrow a phrase from a well known tyre company, this power would be nothing without control, so it’s just as well that the T6 comes with a Haldex all-wheel drive system. Without it, the V60 T6 would either be torque steering for the next decade or planted firmly in a hedge. There’s only one word that can be used to describe the power and that’s ‘brutal’.
Accelerate hard and you’re pressed firmly back into the leather R-Design seats, with licence-losing speeds appearing in just over six seconds. Make no mistake, the V60 T6 with added Polestar is a seriously quick machine.
As you’d expect from a Volvo, safety comes as standard. But today’s cars are far removed from those we loved in our youth. Gone are the big bumpers and tank-like build qualities, modern Volvos are suave, svelte and sophisticated machines. Swedes have never looked so good. Much of the in-built safety today comes in the form of electronic assistance and driver aids. There are gadgets to warn you when cars are in your blind spot. They will also warn you if you happen to veer out of your lane on a motorway. In traffic, Volvo’s ‘City Safety’ feature will apply the breaks if it feels you’re about to plough into the car in front. Then there’s adaptive cruise control, which senses the speed of the car in front and gently brings your speed down accordingly. Once clear, the car will speed up again. Of all the safety gadgets I’ve had a play with, this is the one that impressed me most. It actually makes the use of cruise control a realistic prospect on our congested motorways.
But of course, such toys don’t come cheap. The V60 T6 will set you back £35,780 before you’ve been busy with the options boxes, but tick a few safety and convenience features and you’ll soon be looking at a price of £44k. Ouch. Just as well the V60 T6 looks so damn good in white, as there’s no charge for white paint. How long will it be before manufacturers catch on and start charging for solid white?!
On the subject of cost, Volvo will charge you £645 for the Polestar upgrade which, much like that on the C30, seems like excellent value. The extra 29bhp over the already quick standard T6 works out at a mere £1.96 per horse. Good value, I’d say.
And it needs to be, as some of the other costs of ownership are less easy to swallow. Road tax costs a whopping £790 for the first year and then £445 for each subsequent year. The combined fuel economy figure of 28mpg is also something you’ll need to factor in if you’re contemplating T6 Polestar ownership. Although I was slightly encouraged to see that after 780 miles of presumably hard automotive journalist use, the readout was showing an average of 23.8mpg. Finally there’s the cost to fit another set of ContiSportContact 3 tyres. At approximately £180 a corner, you might want to preserve your rubber.
In truth though, holding back will be the last thing on your mind in the T6 Polestar. It’s an absolute hoot to drive. There’s a wonderfully raspy soundtrack from the 3.0 litre engine to accompany the brutal acceleration and the 6-speed Geartronic ‘box does a fine job of keeping up with the most demanding of requests. The V60’s low roofline and sleek proportions means that there’s virtually no body roll under hard cornering and as you’d expect, grip is tremendous. It stops well too! In fact, the only negative thing I could say about the drive is the complete lack of steering feel.
Indeed, after my brief encounter with the V60 T6 Polestar, there was just one thing troubling me. Who on earth is going to buy one? I can’t see existing Volvo owners rocking up to their local dealer and trading in their trusty V70 for a faster, less practical and more expensive to run wagon. I’m also struggling to think whether a buyer who’s hellbent on buying an Audi S4 Avant or another German estate would change his course in favour of a hot Swede.
But I think I may have found the ultimate USP for the V60 T6 Polestar. Forget the ‘most powerful Volvo ever’ stickers or the collection of safety gadgets. Forget the 3.0 litre straight-six engine or the all-wheel drive system. Dig a little deeper into the spec sheet and you’ll discover that the V60 has a forward folding front passenger seat.
A forward folding front passenger seat? Now I’m sure that when combined with the folding rear seats, this is a tremendously practical feature and will be of interest to those who spend a lot of time transporting antique furniture or DIY goods, but surely that’s missing the point? Ask anyone who remembers watching the BTCC races in 1994 and they’ll tell you that one of the highlights was seeing the Volvo 850 estate cars dicing with the saloons. Fast forward 17 years and the V60 T6 Polestar gives you the perfect opportunity to recreate these scenes for yourself. Simply fold down all the seats, add a few Securicor and Q8 stickers to the bodywork and you have yourself your very own stripped out touring car. I guarantee that you’ll get no more hassle from Audi drivers intent on filling your rear view mirror. Magic!
So there we have it. The Volvo V60 T6 Polestar is more expensive than normal Volvos, is less practical than normal Volvos, has a ridiculously small amount of rear legroom and probably answers a question that nobody actually asked. But you know what? I’m bloody glad the thing exists. It’s a daft car in an increasingly serious world.
Another car to add to the post-depreciation list. Excellent.