Did you know that Volvo has a performance division? Well, now you know. It’s called Polestar Engineered and while the company, Polestar, is now its own entity, it still helps upgrade current Volvo models with performance hybridization. The XC60, S60, and this V60 are available with the Polestar Engineered option.
Engine – Like every other Volvo since approximately 2015, the 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Polestar utilizes a 2.0L turbocharged and supercharged gasoline 4-cylinder engine. On its own it is capable of producing 316 hp and 295 lb-ft of torque in the V60 T6 guise. This Polestar Engineered (PE) V60 has the added benefit of a hybrid powertrain. An electric motor powers the rear wheels and another is used as a motor/generator on the 2.0L engine itself which powers the front wheels. The total output is 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque. While those numbers are a healthy amount, it doesn’t quite feel that quick from behind the steering wheel. That is most likely due in part to the V60’s weight. At 2,050 kg (4,521 lbs), it is 300 kg heavier than the Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG Wagon. Worse still for the Volvo, the C43 has less power but manages a quicker 0-60 mph (0-96 km/h) time of 4.1 seconds vs the V60’s 4.4 seconds (Car & Driver test).
But while outright performance may not be the Volvo’s forte, fuel economy is. Most other wagons in this power range can become very thirsty in a city. The Volvo V60 T8 can run on pure electricity for up to 32 – 37 km, depending on environmental factors (hot or cold climate) and how many electronics you use (heated seats, HVAC, etc). While the electric range may not seem like much, it is enough for the majority of drives within a city. Charging from a 120V wall outlet can be done overnight at home or if a 240V level 2 charger is available, the V60 T8 PE can be fully charged in less than 4 hours. Mix in a bit of highway driving and my overall fuel economy rating for the week that I had this car was 5.9 L/100km (40 mpg) over a 200 km period. Very good for 415 hp.
Transmission – When driving in pure electric mode, there is no shifting to worry about as it is essentially a rear-wheel-drive electric car. When the gasoline engine does have to provide power, an 8-speed automatic shifts gears and sends the gas engine’s power to the front wheels. Under normal driving conditions, the transmission shifts are barely noticeable. It’s only when the car is in the sporty Polestar Engineered drive mode that the shifts become a bit more noticeable. It’s not uncomfortable or anything like that but the shifts are a bit harsher than in the normal drive modes.
Braking – The V60 T8 Polestar Engineered is equipped with regenerative braking to recover electricity while slowing down. It can be done when in “D” or a stronger regen braking can be enabled by selecting “B” on the shifter. When more braking is required, The V60’s massive Brembo front calipers clamp on the two-piece floating discs to stop the 2,000+ kg body with authority. With the snow tires and cold temperatures during my time with the car, the brakes were too much for the tires under emergency situations and ABS had to intervene. But with sticky summer tires, I’m sure that the V60 T8 can stop as well as other sporty wagons in the class. Automatic emergency braking is a standard feature on the V60 Polestar.
Handling – Steering feel and effort is tuned to be a bit more city friendly rather than weekend track wagon. Steering feel is a bit better than the standard V60 T6 but it’s not quite on par with the C43 AMG Wagon. However, the 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Polestar can still hold its own around a twisty road thanks in part to the Ohlins suspension and the low center of gravity.
The Ohlins suspension is adjustable for firmness over bumps but it’s not electronically adjustable. There are knobs on top of the struts under the hood to adjust the front shocks. But to adjust the rear shocks, you unfortunately have to lift the vehicle to access the tuning knob in the wheel wells.
But when the suspension is correctly tuned, the low center of gravity and firm suspension make the V60 stick to any road surface. The batteries are located where the driveshaft would be. This still is an AWD wagon, it’s just that it is an eAWD system where the rear electric motor drives the rear wheels and the gasoline engine drives the front wheels.
Ride Comfort – With the manually adjustable suspension (front at least) in its softest setting, the ride of the Polestar Engineered V60 is noticeably firmer than that of the T6 V60. The thick sidewalls of the 19” Polestar wheels do help to absorb some of the bumps but the ride can get really bad when driving over uneven and cracked pavement. Normal bumps or manhole covers don’t feel that bad when driving over them but for some reason, the ride of the Volvo V60 Polestar feels worse when driving on cracked & uneven roads.
The seats aid a bit to absorb some jolts from driving over bumps. They provide a wide variety of adjustments for both tall or short occupants. The only issue I saw with the front seats was when someone shorter than myself (at 6’4”) had to get out of them. The large bolsters on the bottom cushion made it a bit more difficult to exit the vehicle.
Interior Space – Space inside the V60 has increased over the previous generation Polestar wagon & sedan. There is ample leg and headroom for taller occupants in the front while average sized adults can comfortably sit in the rear seats for long durations. The large panoramic roof creates a larger feeling atmosphere in the cabin thanks to the amount of light it lets in. As for trunk space, it remains identical to that of the gasoline only V60 models at 1,713 L (60.5 cu-ft) thanks to the ingenious placement of the batteries along the center of the car.
Noise, Vibration, & Harshness – When the electric motor is powering the car, the V60 T8 is as quiet as any other electric vehicle. It can even be driven at speeds of up to 130 km/h on electricity alone without much cabin intrusion of wind and tire noise. The gasoline engine is noticeable once it starts up, especially when cold, but once it warms up it’s not overly intrusive in everyday driving situations. My only complaint about this car is that it doesn’t sound very sporty.
In Polestar Engineered mode, the engine is always on to provide the most power. However, it doesn’t sound particularly sporty like the 4-cylinder engine in the Mercedes-Benz GLA 45 AMG or the Mini Countryman JCW. It sounds bland and muffled.
Odds and Ends
Gadgets – The 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered comes fully loaded with every feature in Volvo’s arsenal. The only option is the heads-up display (I’d definitely recommend it) and choice of colours…. or rather shades of black through white. Unfortunately the Polestar blue of the past is not available on this new generation.
Anyway back to the gadgets, the V60 PE has all of the same features as the V60 Inscription trim I reviewed last year. There are some subtle changes though. The infotainment system is a tiny bit faster to respond and to load on startup. 2 or 3 years old Volvos with the same infotainment system would take upwards of 30 seconds to startup. Also, due to the batteries, the center console storage is hilariously small. The only items that could fit in there are a couple of smartphones.
Exterior Design – This newest generation of Volvo V60 looks like no other car on the road. The Polestar team made it even more eye-catching with the unique 19” wheels, lowered ride height, gold Brembo calipers, and unique exhaust surrounds. But I can’t help it think how much more unique the entire Polestar lineup would be if the “traditional” blue paint were still an option.
Interior Design – The interior of the Polestar Engineered V60 looks identical to that of the normal V60 wagon with the exception of the gold seat belts. The centrally mounted infotainment touchscreen is the main focal point of the dashboard. Soft leather covers every spot where one might touch and Volvo’s engineers did a clever thing to reduce the use of hard plastics. They covered the lower half of the center console with carpet whereas on other vehicles it is plastic. It’s a small detail but it makes the interior feel more premium.
The 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered starts at $82,300 CAD ($67,300 USD) which makes it quite an expensive wagon. While there are other high performance wagons on the market, the Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered stands out on its own thanks to its hybrid system. At the time of writing this article, there is no other performance hybrid wagon on the market which makes this a one of one for those that like exclusivity.
Thank you to Volvo Canada for providing the vehicle. www.VolvoCars.com