Will Volvo Ever Build the 508hp S60 Polestar?
More than six months ago, Volvo’s official Polestar racing track team created a concept car based on Volvo’s most popular non-SUV, the S60 sedan. Although it is more expensive than the smaller S40, it is more successful; Volvo has committed a large amount of capital to revising and marketing the S60 as a modern, competitive alternative to the normal glut of German luxury sedans. An unusual, turbocharged 5-cylinder putting down 240hp through the front wheels is the standard engine and drivetrain choice, with AWD as an available extra. At $31,000, the S60 is well-priced, although an extra $9,000 adds an extra cylinder into the equation, bumping horsepower to a nice, round 300hp. One thing Volvo is lacking, however, is a true sports sedan, something to run with the Audi RS4s and BMW M3s of the world. Volvo handed it over to their racing team, the result of which is the S60 Polestar you see before you today.
Although the engine is still a 3.0L inline-6, upgrades have forced a stomping 508 horses and 424lb-ft of torque from under the hood, and a six-speed manual transmission mated to a Haldex all-wheel drive system launches the crazy Swede. The sprint to 60 takes only 3.9 seconds, and the Polestar will keep gunning until it hits its max speed of more than 180mph. A wide body kit, Öhlins dampers, and Brembos complete the track-ready package, which means the only thing missing is Volvo’s commitment to actually bring the thing to market. The Polestar is officially a concept vehicle, although someone did purchase the prototype for more than $300k.
The question is, should Volvo manufacture it, and would anyone buy it? It is no surprise to say that the major luxury brands build high-performance versions of their compact cars. Although Mercedes was late to the game, the AMG C-Series has made a name as the brutal counterpoint to the M3’s well-rounded surgical knife. Even Lexus dipped its toes into the waters with the Lexus IS-F in 2008, a bold move considering Lexus’s reputation as a purveyor of high-quality but conservative automobiles. Would it make sense for Volvo to travel down this well-worn path?
In a study by Polk, the average age of Volvo customers (51) is smack-dab in the middle between Audi (49)/BMW(50) and Mercedes (52)/Lexus (55) and much lower than Cadillac (57). Practically, this means that there are enough young people purchasing Volvos to justify a model that appeals to those buyers. The real question Volvo owner Geely must ask itself is whether or not the car could be sold at a cost similar to that of its competitors. After years of perfecting the formula, the M3 and C-Series AMG have a built-in fan base, while the IS-F has suffered growing pains while attempting to overthrow the kings; the CTS-V has sold very well due to its much more powerful engine and larger body size. Volvo itself is a quirky brand, but remember, it does have a track record of making some pretty strange cars. The V70R was a 300hp station wagon long before Cadillac dropped a supercharged V8 into an elongated CTS.
As it stands, auto journalist and presenter extraordinaire Chris Harris reports that an additional six Polestar S60s will be sold for £200,000 each. After testing a Polestar versus a C63, Harris believes the Germans have not created compact sports sedans so great that a competitor could not possibly keep up. Volvo too has enough brand recognition and a dealer network extensive enough to support a hot S60. While it is a lower volume Swedish manufacturer, this isn’t Saab, and people actually have a perception of Volvo, even it is as simple as “Volvos are safe.”
The S60 is Volvo’s first turnaround model, just like Cadillac’s CTS, and we know now that a high-performance small car from a manufacturer on the up-and-up could help rocket the brand if pulled off successfully.
And why not check out Chris Harris bash the hell out of a brand new beautiful Volvo on a snowy track?