2020 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered evaluation: Little tweaks yield massive enhancements

Polestar or not, the S60 is one sharp-dressed sedan.

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Within the two years since I first drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s actually solely modified one factor: the brakes. However this seemingly small tweak really makes an enormous distinction. With this necessary piece of the efficiency puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is lastly the absolutely realized sport sedan it all the time supposed to be.

LikePotent hybrid performanceThe brakes aren’t terrible anymoreGorgeous design, inside and outside

Do not LikeMore costly base value than rivalsT8 powertrain sounds wheezySensus infotainment continues to be somewhat buggy

The was by no means the problem; the massive, six-piston Brembo entrance brakes offered numerous stopping energy. However the digital brake-by-wire software program — the place the brake pedal sends a sign to a pc, which then tells the brakes what to do — was poorly tuned. Volvo tweaked the software program and made just a few minor modifications, leading to a braking expertise that not solely gives higher suggestions to the motive force, however vastly smooths out the transition between the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. 

The previous brakes have been so arduous to gauge that you just’d unknowingly apply an excessive amount of strain, the nostril of the automotive would dive and the S60’s rear finish would unsettle — proper earlier than a flip, no much less. Even worse, these grabby attributes made the S60 Polestar Engineered sort of a trouble to drive within the metropolis or in stop-and-go visitors. I am pleased to report that in any respect speeds, the brand new setup is approach, approach higher.

I’m 100% right here for gold calipers.

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That is an awesome factor, as a result of the remainder of the Polestar Engineered therapy makes the S60 an actual hoot. The two.Zero-liter I4 engine is identical one you will discover in Volvo’s different T8-badged automobiles. It is turbocharged, supercharged and works at the side of an electrical motor mounted on the rear axle for a wholesome complete of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed computerized transmission largely fades into the background, a lot in order that I do not even hassle with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And with the electrical motor a-hummin’, the S60 Polestar Engineered has through-the-road all-wheel drive to reinforce grip, particularly in the event you stay in a spot with awful climate.

The Polestar-specific upgrades work a deal with. The adjustable Öhlins dampers can rework the journey from beautiful and plush to agency and taut, although it isn’t one thing you are able to do on the push of a button. As a substitute, there are handbook knobs on both aspect of the engine bay — painted in a rad shade of gold — the place you’ll be able to agency up or loosen the dampers to your coronary heart’s content material. I will admit, there’s one thing oddly satisfying about altering the dampers manually and it is neat to strive one setting, drive just a few miles, make changes, do one other run, rinse and repeat. However I’ve to surprise what number of house owners will really take the time to get beneath the hood and tinker with these knobs on the common. (Professional tip: Deliver some gloves or a rag if you are going to flip the knobs after working the engine for some time. They get very, very popular. Ask me how I do know.)

With the dampers tuned someplace between medium and medium-well, the S60 Polestar Engineered delivers a compliant journey. The steering has good weight to its motion however feels somewhat numb on heart, however a minimum of the wheel itself is a pleasure to carry, wrapped in leather-based and simply the correct quantity of girthy. The 235/40-series Continental Premium Contact 6 tires provide numerous grip, however have simply sufficient sidewall to maintain the 19-inch wheels from being too punishing. And hey, because the brakes are not a washy-then-grabby affair, you’ll be able to carry extra velocity into corners, figuring out the strain you placed on the cease pedal will probably be precisely and easily translated to these massive, daring Brembos.

Most individuals will most likely go away the S60 in its default Hybrid mode, the place the engine and battery work collectively to ship acceptable energy with out killing total effectivity. A Maintain setting can maintain the battery’s state of cost as-is and if you wish to add extra juice on the go, push a button for Cost mode, which sends supplemental engine energy into the 10.Four-kilowatt-hour pack. A model-specific efficiency mode — unimaginatively referred to as Polestar Engineered — places every thing on full boil. And you may even drive the S60 beneath absolutely electrical energy if you want, although just for brief distances (22 miles, in line with the EPA).

Entertaining because the S60 is once you’re actually on it, what’s nice is that it is also completely pleased to take a chill tablet and simmer down once you simply aren’t within the temper. I really suppose the added breadth of the hybrid package deal — the flexibility to go from silent and docile to full-blast rocket — will increase the Polestar’s enchantment. Some sport sedans work too arduous to celebration on a regular basis, whether or not it is with a super-stiff journey (Mercedes-AMG C43) or go-go-go throttle tuning (BMW M340i). Combining that with the S60’s cabin — which is so quiet it borders on serene — and what are completely among the greatest entrance seats in any automotive at any value, makes this Volvo a automotive I would like to have as a day by day driver. It is as a lot at house working to CVS for some rest room paper as it’s blasting down my favourite canyon highway.

Matte paint is a $7,000 choice. Woof.

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The opposite execs and cons are just like different S60 fashions. The outside is good-looking as heck and I really like all of the gold accents inside and outside. The inside is equally stately, with nice supplies in all places. There is a boatload of driver-assistance tech customary, together with all the trendy facilities like adaptive cruise management, lane-keeping help, blind-spot monitoring and extra. The Sensus infotainment system is gorgeous and feature-rich, although the 9-inch touchscreen’s responsiveness continues to be a hit-or-miss affair. Truthfully, if there’s one main grievance to register, it is that the hybrid powertrain sounds sort of wheezy and coarse, which is especially disgraceful given the extra aggressive mission of the Polestar Engineered trim.

I’ve all the time thought the S60 was sort of underappreciated amongst compact luxurious sedans and that is true of this Polestar trim, too. There’s rather a lot to love about an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, however none of them actually stand out as really higher choices. Some have higher cabin tech. Some are somewhat extra luxurious. However I’ve little doubt the S60 Polestar Engineered may stand toe-to-toe with these heavy-hitters so far as dynamics are involved, although it is price noting the Volvo is a little more highly effective than these core opponents.

At $65,795 to begin (together with $995 for vacation spot), the S60 Polestar is costlier than its aforementioned rivals, however provided that you examine the bottom MSRPs. Load up an Audi S4 or Mercedes-AMG C43 with all the good things — like what’s customary on this S60 — and also you’re taking a look at roughly $65,000. Ultimately, it evens out. And now that the Polestar’s massive efficiency caveat is fortunately a factor of the previous, there’s much more purpose to think about the S60 as an alternative choice to one of many German go-tos.

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