Snowdrift: Volvo S60 Polestar (with a bit of C63 AMG). And a drag race. - CHRIS HARRIS ON CARS

Uploaded by drive on 23.01.2013


Remember fast Volvos--
the 850T5, the British Touring Car Championship?
Well, the new Chinese owned Volvo does remember, which is
why it's toying with the idea of a new high performance
sub-brand called Polstar.
And no, it has nothing to do with pole dancing, and
everything to do with neck-bending acceleration.
So meet the S60 Polstar.
It's like naming a crack pipe and watching Wallender.

How many other saloon cars can you buy with a manual gearbox
and over 500 horsepower from a
transversely mounted V6 engine?
If you tell me there's another one apart from the Volvo
Polstar, I'll say you're lying.
This is a loopy car, even by loopy standards.

At it's heart is a standard S60T6 motor, but they played
around with it.
New rods, I think the pistons are the same, standard crank,
but all sorts of other stuff going on.
A massive Garrett turbo, working at 1.5 bar.
And they've squeezed--
wait for this--
500 mega horsepower, and 424 foot-pounds of torque from it.
It makes for a rather un-S60 driving experience.
Let me get around this corner, and then give you an idea of
what we're talking about.
Because this an extremely exciting car.
That is oversteer.
And now we get going.

It's extraordinary.
We're now doing 125 miles an hour.
Why has Volvo built this car?
It's quite simple.
It's an exercise.
It's a study to see whether Volvo can get back into the
fast car market.
And we are imploring them to do so.
Because you remember the Heritage.
You remember T5, T5R, estate racing cars, things bouncing
over curbs.
They were great days.
And Volvo sold more cars because it made fast cars.

Of course, it's snowy and slushy, and not an ideal way
to drive a car like this, that's riding on Michelin
Pilot Supersport tires.
What I can tell you about the car is it's got pretty decent
electric power steering.
Gearbox is a bit notchy.
But you know what?
In this day and age, to be offered this stick thing here
and those pedals down on the floor is such a privilege that
I'm not going to complain about that.
It's agile.
It's got some very expensive Ohlins dampers that feel quite
sophisticated, in that the car's got lots of support.
So it's firm.
But it's not too crashy in terms of ride.
And the performance--
we've got some proper old school lag going on here.
So not much happens below about three.
And then at about three and a half, it just takes off.
And it's very, very fast indeed.
And it's accompanied by lovely exciting V6 noise.
The other thing you need to know about the
Polstar is the price.
There are plans to make, I think, six of these cars.
And they will be 200,000 pounds.
That's because they're very rare.
Because they're out there for specialized Volvo cognoscenti,
that want to own one of these kind of development models.
But just imagine that this car was a bit less than the
forthcoming M3, but still had 500 horsepower.
That would be interesting.

So how do you judge a 200,000 pound limited run concept
super small saloon car?
When you get the best super small saloon car on the
market, that's made, unsurprisingly, by a German
company, and you put them together.
Just to find out how wide of the mark the
S60 is, if at all.
Perhaps it's unfair comparing this new Polstar to the
But we have to.
Because we have to understand where it sits in the firmament
of small very fast saloon cars.
So here we have it, the C63 with AMG performance pack, 487
horsepower, 442 foot-pounds.
It is, by any stretch, an animal.

On normal summer tires, on quite a bit of snow, it's a
bit ridiculous.
But what a great little car.
It does so many things so well.
The steering is delicious.
The chassis is just right.
It's got a really nice balance on the road.
It's quite an agile car, and yet it can be very relaxing.
And if you want to do skiddy stuff, well this one has the
optional differential.
So it will skid pretty much all day long,
as you can now see.
Because that's right, we're still oversteering.
We're still oversteering.
We're still oversteering.
We're still oversteering.
We're still oversteering.
No, we're going straight.
Oh, no we're oversteering again.
Oversteering again.
Right, we're oversteering again.
That's what happens when you've got one of these things
and you drive on a bit of snow.
This is not a very objective test today, because it's not
ideal in snow.
And AMG should not be charging 1,600 quid for an optional
Because this car is 56 basic.
But the one that's tested, 72 grand.
I suppose it's cheaper than 200, isn't it?
The question I have to ask today is, should Volvo be
attempting to even lock horns with this kind of machine?
Have the Germans, the AMGs, the RSs from Audi, and the BMW
Ms moved it so far up the table now, have they moved
into a different territory, one that Volvo can't possibly
hope to occupy?
No, they haven't.
I just think Volvo needs to occupy a space a bit below
this, but kind of offer a real surprise performance package.
And with 500 horsepower, dare I say it, the Polstar makes
this thing feel a little bit slow in a straight line.

And rather handily, Volvo has Robert Dahlgren, ex world
touring car driver on hand to drive the S60 Polstar.
I'm still in the Mercedes.
The only way to see just how quick that thing is is to have
a drag race, right?
It's wet and damp and icy and horrible.
So a standing start is not fair on the Mercedes.
So we thought we'd do a rolling start, and just see
how fast this Volvo really is.
Two, one, go.

It just leapt away from me in second.
Then it leapt away in third.
We're sort of [INAUDIBLE] no, it's going away from us.

It's still going away from us.

This has 487 horsepower.
The way it went away in third gear, when he hit third and
the boost came on was impressive.
That's a very fast car.

This wasn't a test to decide whether the S60 Polstar is
indeed a better car than a C63 AMG.
This was a test to discover whether Volvo is onto
something with this whole Polstar brand, and whether it
should go after the Germans at their own game.
Having experienced that blue thing fully lit in third gear,
the answer is an emphatic yes.