When Volvo announced it would no longer be building engines with more than four cylinders, it immediately cast doubt over its future performance models, however the S60 Polestar, and its wagon-backed V60 twin, live on, albeit with a downsized heart.
This is concerning news, as the 3.0-litre turbo straight-six engine has always been the Polestar’s strongest point.
On paper, however, the new 2.0-litre turbocharged AND supercharged four-cylinder delivers the goods; power is up 13kW to 270kW at 6000rpm though torque drops around 30Nm to 470Nm at 3100rpm.
The new engine cuts 24kg from the Polestar’s nose and combined with the new eight-speed automatic shaves 0.2sec off the 0-100km/h sprint to a competitive 4.7sec.
It’s a strange engine, but not in a bad way. It’s been mapped very cleverly to feel like a larger capacity naturally-aspirated unit; the supercharger eliminates any turbo lag, yet the engine still needs revs to deliver its best, which means there’s a reward to extending it.
It sounds fairly coarse, but the odd hint of supercharger whine and parps on upshifts imbue it with some character.
Forget about fuel economy if you use the performance, however, as we averaged almost 18L/100km.
The new eight-speed auto is reasonably intelligent if left to its own devices, and what it loses in shift speed compared to a dual-clutch it gains back in day-to-day useability.
The S60’s biggest downfall is its confused chassis. As you’d expect from Volvo, the handling errs towards security over entertainment, though the electronics are lenient enough in Sport mode.
The steering is slow but linear and well-weighted and the brakes hold up reasonably well, though the pedal is quite soft.
All in all, it adds up to a quick, component – if not terribly exciting – luxury sports sedan, but this is sadly undermined by a ride quality that would be more appropriate in a Porsche 911 GT3.
It doesn’t crash or bang, but it’s extremely firm and while the constant jiggling is excusable in something as potent as a GT3 or Mercedes-AMG C63, to be blunt the Polestar possesses nowhere near the level of dynamic ability to compensate.
Add in the S60’s ageing architecture, though in its defence the button-fest is quite easy to use, and in the face of newer rivals like the Audi S4 and Mercedes-AMG C43 it’s tough to make a case for it, even with the sharp new $89,990 sticker.
The S60 Polestar is a much improved car since its introduction in 2013 (not to mention $20K cheaper!), but the game’s moved on and it doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be.
There’s a place in the market for a fast, desirable Volvo, but this ain’t it.
Engine: 1969cc inline-4cyl, DOHC, 16v, turbo, s/c
Power: 270kW @ 6000rpm
Torque: 470Nm @ 3100rpm
0-100km/h: 4.7sec (claimed)