Things are changing at Volvo. With the help of a company called Polestar they are shedding their safe, secure and albeit slightly sensible image and entering into the realm of the ultra-fast car market to take on the likes of the new BMW M3...
Founded in 1996 by Christian Dahl and in collaboration with Volvo, Polestar was formed in order to drive forward Volvo's investment in racing. While the company's core business is focussed upon the development and competition of racing cars, they also offer a full performance service for Volvo customers where they use their 17 years of knowledge to tune a good, solid vehicle to that of an ultra high performing car. Polestar is today the official Motorsport and Performance partner of Volvo Cars.
Continuing to go from strength to strength, Polestar achieved their best ever season to date during 2012 when they secured the treble of Drivers, Teams, and Manufacturers titles in the Swedish TTA Racing Elite League.
Having raced with numerous models from the Volvo range over the years including the 850, S40, S60 and C30, 2013 will see five of their latest creations, the stunning S60 model, compete for the prestigious Swedish Touring Car Championship (STCC).
But now they are turning their attention to road cars as well. Having received rave reviews from around the world and being the centrepiece of the Öhlins stand at the Autosport show in January, the Polestar S60 concept car features a whole host of exotic and special one off parts and boasts an incredible 508bhp! The three litre, straight six 'T6' engine has been given the full Polestar treatment – modified cylinder heads and combustion chambers, modified inlet manifold and air intakes plus specially manufactured conrods to boost this safe saloon car into a full racing weapon.
A further power boost comes from the Garret 3171 turbo while the stainless steel Ferrita exhaust system offers an unmistakable growl. Of course, it is not just the BHP that Polestar have tuned, increasing the torque considerably over the stock car their S60 will now accelerate from 0-100km/h in just 3.9 seconds – in comparison a Ferrari FF takes 3.7 seconds. Capable of speeds well in excess of 300km/h the Polestar S60 is seriously fast.
Of course, speed is all well and good but Polestar's main focus when developing the car was to combine the genuine Volvo driving experience with a high level of power and handling. So with the engine boasting impressive figures the Polestar team had to ensure the rest of the car was capable of putting this power to the ground so set about making the car a perfect blend of speed and handling.
Lowering the chassis by 30mm, widening the front by 20mm and the rear by 40mm they also fitted a reinforced anti-roll bar at the front and rear of the car. There are Öhlins three-way shock absorbers, special 19 inch rims designed by Polestar and a host of modified parts including control arms, engine mounts and bushings. Extensive testing in Volvo's own wind tunnel has led to streamlined splitters and diffusers, while Brembo six piston callipers provide incredible stopping power.
Weighing in at just 1,640kg, the Polestar S60 is an impressive vehicle. Britain's Top Gear were more than impressed, stating "Polestar have done a Jekyll and Hyde number on the S60 – without any murderous side effects!" while over in America legendary talk show host and stand up comedian Jay Leno went behind the wheel of the car for his online show 'Jay Leno's Garage' where he stated "This car has changed my whole feeling about Volvo. A Volvo on steroids. Very impressive".
Of course, reviews are good but the Polestar S60 really showed its mettle when Chris Harris and 'Pistonheads' put it through its paces during a test earlier this year. Having left a snowy Sweden in the hope of some slightly better weather over in the UK, they awoke on the day of the test to find the airbase they were meant to be using covered in snow – cue some fantastic footage of the light blue Polestar S60 snowdrifting its way around the tarmac.
The real purpose of the test though was to see how the car compared against the more established sports cars on the market, in particular the Mercedes C63 AMG vehicle. With years of experience behind them, AMG should be expected to have the upper hand, yet such is the power of the Polestar S60 that during the drag race it simply pulled away from the Mercedes without looking back, which led to Chris stating, ""This was a test to discover whether Volvo is on to something with this whole Polestar brand.
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!""
The S60 is a concept car and while there are plans to build and sell a handful of these beautiful vehicles, at a cost of around £200,000 to build they're not going to be for everyone's wallet but demand is still expected to outstrip supply.However that doesn't mean Volvo drivers can go without as Polestar offers a wide range of performance upgrades which can be purchased online and fitted at your local Volvo dealership with retained warranty , unaffected fuel consumption and as unchanged environmental impact.
Polestar launched their road going S60 version recently for the Australian market and top Öhlins staff attended also. The Australians love their muscle cars and this compact monster really impressed them. The six-cylinder turbo-charged Volvo T6 engine has been optimised by Polestar with a bigger turbo, new intercooler, revised engine mapping and racing exhaust to produce 350bhp or 257kW and 500+Nm. The S60 Polestar accelerates from 0-100km/h in just 4.9 seconds, via a Polestar-tuned six-speed automatic gearbox – which also features a launch control system – and a Polestar-tuned Haldex 4WD system.
The car is governed to a top speed of 250km/h for the road.
To find out more about Polestar, you can visit: www.polestar.se
The S60 drag test is available here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjUjwgLTB_w
And for the ultimate nervous passenger ! See : www.youtube.com/watch?v=QT4pPY3fdcE