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suhaas307 10th May 2017 10:08

Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
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The Volvo S60 Polestar has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 52.50 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

What you’ll like:

• Explosive twin-charged 2L, 4-pot mill making 362 BHP & 470 Nm of torque!
• Mind blowing levels of grip and stability courtesy the trick AWD, torque vectoring & tweaked suspension
• Solid build quality and construction
• Brimming with equipment and safety features
• At this price, it’s the max bang for the buck in the segment
• 1,500 units worldwide and only 30 allocated for the Indian market will ensure exclusivity

What you won’t:

• High-strung 2L, 4-pot mill lacks the refinement and effortlessness of the outgoing inline-6
• Cramped back seat & a small boot too
• 20" wheels + low ground clearance = impractical on Indian streets
• With 7 years behind it, the current S60 feels o-l-d
• Volvo's wafer-thin dealership and service network
• Lacks the badge value of its competition, i.e. Audi S5 / Mercedes C43 AMG / CLA45 AMG

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suhaas307 10th May 2017 10:08

18 Attachment(s)
Exterior

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With the exception of the 6-cylinder S60 T6 launched way back in 2011, Volvos worldwide are generally considered to be snooze fests behind the wheel. In an attempt to break away from the “boringly-safe-car” stereotype, Volvo’s in-house skunkworks division has been churning out some rather interesting automobiles.

As you may have guessed, Polestar is to Volvo what AMG is to Mercedes and the M Division to BMW. For a clearer picture of Polestar’s origin, here's a brief lesson in history.
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In 1994, two new manufacturers joined the British Touring Car Championship and Volvo was one of them (Alfa Romeo being the other). The Swedish manufacturer ran the 850 SE/GLT Station Wagon - a surprise inclusion. Since the Swedes wanted a larger slice of the racing action, the BTCC spawned the Scandinavian Touring Car Championship (STCC) in 1996. Volvo partnered with Swedish racing driver Jan "Flash" Nilsson who founded the Halmstad-based Flash Engineering racing team. Initially, the team ran the 850, which was subsequently replaced by the S40 in 1998 and the S60 in 2003. Pursuant to the introduction of Super 2000 rules in 2003, the team took over Volvo’s technical development for both - the engines and the chassis.
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In 2005, Christian Dahl bought the Flash Engineering team from Nilsson and renamed it ‘Polestar Racing’. In 2008, Polestar entered the Volvo C30 that was developed by them from scratch for the 2011 Season of the World Touring Car Championship. Polestar had also participated in the new Swedish breakaway touring car championship, ‘TTA – Racing Elite League’, with the Volvo S60 TTA. 2013 witnessed the merger of ‘TTA – Racing Elite League’ & STCC, and Polestar entered as many as 5 cars for the 2013 Season.

In 2015, Volvo announced that it had acquired Polestar Performance - the production car tuning division of Polestar, as well as the Polestar brand. Pursuant to the acquisition, the Polestar Racing team was rechristened ‘Cyan Racing’, which remained under the direction of Christian Dahl.
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Polestar began making its mark as Volvo’s performance division only in 2010, when it unveiled to the world a 450 BHP C30 hatchback concept car. The production version - titled the ‘R-Design’, however, was neutered (power was reduced to 250 BHP) and limited to just 250 units worldwide. Its successor - the S60 Polestar Concept produced over 500 BHP from its extensively modified inline-6 mill. It remained a concept though, and only a very small number of cars were built for select clients.

Volvo continued to offer ‘R Design’ packages that could be applied to regular S60s at the factory, for the benefit of Polestar enthusiasts. Think of these ‘R Design’ packages as Audi’s ‘S Line’ or BMW’s ‘M Sport’ trim levels, albeit with mild hardware tweaks. However, in 2015, Volvo got serious with Polestar again and decided to give enthusiasts something to pine over. They took the R-Design S60 T6 and squeezed about 25 BHP more out of it, bringing its power figures close to the 350 BHP mark.

Here in India, we were treated to the S60 T6 powered by a turbocharged 3-litre, straight-six at a time when BMW and Audi used to sell the straight-six E90 330i and the 3.2 V6 A4 respectively. Interestingly, the Germans made significantly less power in comparison to the S60. Six years later, things have changed considerably. While you may still find the odd old-gen Audi S5 at a showroom near you, BMW has stopped selling fast petrol sedans altogether, unless of course you’re ready to spring for the M3. Mercedes will sell you the CLA45 AMG and C43 AMG; while the former is a great little 4-pot AMG, the latter is not really a proper AMG *nudge nudge* *wink wink*. That leaves us with the Volvo S60 Polestar.
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Finished in Rebel Blue, the S60 Polestar is a striking car. Sure, it may be past its prime, but it still looks nice. The wider grille of the facelifted S60 ups its aggression quotient a notch, and it can be quite unnerving to catch this looming large in your rear-view mirror. But, let it drive past you and you’ll see that it looks like just another exec-saloon in a lairy paint job. A keen observer however, would notice the comical 20" wheels, the little splitters, rear spoiler and the gloss black diffuser flanked by larger exhaust pipes, not to mention the blue Polestar badges on the front grille and boot lid. For what is essentially a body-kit, it’s pretty subtle for a ‘hot’ variant, as it should be. You could even spec it in Onyx Black metallic for that true sleeper look. But trust me, you wouldn’t want it in any colour other than this blue. It really pops in the sunlight and is discernibly de-le-cious!
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The front splitters provide about 20 kilograms of downforce:
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Gloss black ORVMs lend a hint of contrast to the blue paintwork:
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20" alloy wheels look fantastic, but perhaps, a tad oversized:
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Rear wing is larger than your average lip spoiler:
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Polestar badges and logos scattered all over the car:
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Beefy 3.5" stainless steel exhaust finishers with Polestar logos engraved on them:
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The tight 2.1 km Kari Motor Speedway played host to the Volvo S60 Polestar launch:
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suhaas307 10th May 2017 10:08

21 Attachment(s)
Interior

The vault-like door opening & closing action leaves an impression. A sea of black and grey may not convey a sense of luxury quite as well as perhaps tan leather would, but you’d never feel like you’re in a bargain-basement barge either. The buttons and switchgear are top-notch and so are the plastics. There are no low-rent bits here. The interior design does look old though, especially when compared to same-price cars:
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Black Alcantara & leather-wrapped steering wheel is a joy to hold:
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Brushed aluminium paddle shifters are among the best I have used:
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The digital instrument cluster is pretty nifty and mimics a motorcycle's console...
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...but one look at the infotainment screen will tell you that this car belongs to Volvo's older-generation of models:
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Heavily bolstered bucket seats in the front and a well-contoured rear bench to keep the driver and passengers in place while the car is being flung around corners. Rear seat legroom is disappointingly limited:
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Polestar-themed interior features swathes of Alcantara and leather lined by deviated blue stitching on the seats and doorpads:
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Aluminium scuff plates on the door sills with Polestar logos - just in case you missed the other 12 Polestar badges!
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Polestar embossed on the upholstery:
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Aluminium sport pedals:
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Frameless rear view mirror looks classy:
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Carbon-fibre trim on the trademark 'floating' center console:
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The sweet new gear selector with a Polestar logo:
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The Polestar theme would have been truly complete had Volvo given the (outdated-looking) start/stop button and keyfob a touch of blue:
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suhaas307 10th May 2017 10:08

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Driving the 2.0L Petrol

The outgoing Polestar was powered by the same straight-six engine as the T6 AWD sold in India, albeit tweaked to produce around 350 BHP and 500 Nm of peak torque. The new one, codenamed B4204T43, is a 2.0L, 4-cylinder petrol engine derived from the larger XC90 SUV and S90 sedan.
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Downsizing is the new black and Volvo is no stranger to this principle. The new S60 Polestar may have lost 2 cylinders, yet it has gained considerably by way of a much larger, fixed geometry turbocharger as well as a supercharger in order to counter the inevitable lag that most turbocharged cars suffer from. As a result, throttle response is decent at low rpm. It’s worth mentioning that Volvo has made extensive changes to various components, including a redesigned air intake, shorter connecting rods, a new camshaft, new intake, exhaust valve springs and a beefed-up fuel-pump, amongst a plethora of modifications. The result of this technical wizardry is 362 BHP peaking at 6,000 rpm and 470 Nm of torque accessible from 3,100 rpm, held to 5,000 rpm. That’s a 20 BHP gain over the outgoing Polestar. Interestingly though, peak torque has been reduced by 30 Nm.

One of the downsides of highly-strung, small capacity 4-pot mills such as this one is the lack of refinement and effortlessness in the way it goes about its business. While lag is minimal and there’s ample mid-range power and torque available, push it hard and you get the sense that the engine is really being worked to deliver.

The other downside - and perhaps the one that's the most difficult to digest - is the sonorous, straight-six engine and exhaust notes that are conspicuous by their absence. Making dreary 4-bangers sound good is not easy, but Volvo / Polestar have managed to inject some of that touring car DNA into the exhaust note. It’s raw, rorty and perhaps a touch boomy, but it spits, pops and gargles on the overrun – typical of touring cars. And then, you have that lovely induction noise that’s characteristic of turbocharged motors. The surprise element though is the supercharger whine as you build the revvs, and it’s clearly audible from the outside. This cornucopia of whooshes, whines, whirrs and other assorted sounds are further amplified when you engage sport mode via the gear selector.

Speaking of the transmission, all those Swedish ponies are harnessed by an all-new 8-speed, torque converter automatic which works in tandem with a BorgWarner AWD. The gearbox is quick to shift and gets the job done, but it’s a touch slower to swap cogs compared to the ZF units you find in other cars. The all-wheel drive is admittedly front-biased, but works well to keep you on the tarmac. It won't hesitate to send 50% of the car's power to the rear wheels, should you require it. This trick AWD coupled with torque vectoring should be more than useful in our sandy, wet and often greasy conditions.

A few hot laps around the Kari gave us a fair idea of what 362 BHP & 470 Nm feel like:
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Engaging Sport mode via the gear selector and disengaging ESC (yes, you can do that) will enable launch control, and Volvo claims that 0 to 100 km/h runs can be dismissed in 4.7 seconds!!! The top speed is limited to 250 km/h. With launch control engaged at the pit exit, I managed to hit three figures in about 5 seconds. Giving it the beans on the main straight got me close to the magical 200 km/h mark. The engine loves to revv all the way up to 7,000 rpm:
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The sighting lap gave me the opportunity to understand the track. But, the following laps were just a blur, as my focus was solely on keeping the rubber-side down whilst negotiating this tight little circuit. Upon flooring the throttle at the start of the main straight, my head snapped back, as the car picked up its briefcase full of safety-nets, and sling-shot its way towards the first right-hander, with a sense of impunity that I am yet to come to terms with. It was a real assault on the senses!

The final, cool down lap allowed us to explore this engine's repertoire. It's remarkable how tractable this motor is! In 3rd gear, for instance, it allows you to trundle about at 30 km/h. Give it a boot-full in the same gear, and you will see the needle approaching the business end of the revv counter just before you run out of road.

After flinging the S60 Polestar around the first few bends, I was surprised to learn that the lively and accurate steering is actually electrically assisted! The weight and feel that comes through the steering would certainly lead you to believe otherwise!

The steering and chassis benefit from goodies like a carbon-fibre reinforced strut brace, Öhlins dampers, revised spring rates, stiffer stabilizers and uprated connecting points, mounts and bushings. Yes, the chassis has received a complete overhaul:
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245/35 ZR20 Michelin Pilot Super Sport rubber compliments the hardware changes to the T:
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Liberal throttle inputs around a sharp bend will result in understeer. But, if your throttle inputs are judicious and timely, you can get the tail to step out momentarily, before the electronics sort things out and bring you back in line. Turn off the ESC and smack the gear selector into Sport mode, and this very loud and very blue Volvo will seemingly lose all its inhibitions and won't hesitate to shimmy. Although the handling is predictable, it’s wise to exercise restraint and caution whilst indulging in controlled slides, lest you contribute to crash compilation videos on YouTube.

Can't really pass a comment on the suspension's comfort levels without driving this S60 on public roads. Based on my track drive, ride quality isn’t what you'd call supple. It’s clear that the chassis has been set up for track driving - it's much too stiff for the street (low-pro tyres add to the stiffness obviously). Switching to a Comfort setup for regular driving would be prudent. Upon inquiry, Volvo sheepishly admitted that the Comfort setup should be good enough for most occasions.

Massive 371 mm ventilated and slotted Brembo discs and 6-piston calipers up front help in rearranging your innards while shedding speed at an alarming rate. In fact, what’s more sensorial than the car’s outright acceleration is the manner in which it scrubs speed! The brakes may feel grabby at first, but they're easy to get used to. In spite of the constant punishment the press cars received all morning and afternoon, brake fade wasn’t noticeable.
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At 1,750 kilograms (kerb weight), the Volvo is a lardy ol' chappy and in the interest of full disclosure, you do feel its heft when you thrash it around a track. Volvo hasn’t done much in the way of weight reduction either.

SIPS = Side Impact Protection System. It's designed to absorb and distribute the energy of the impact across the whole car, rather than allow only the B-Pillar to bear the brunt of the impact:
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suhaas307 10th May 2017 10:08

Other Points

• The S60 Polestar is only available in 2 colour options here - Rebel Blue (also referred to as Cyan Racing Blue) and Onyx Black metallic. Other countries get 2 more - Ice White and Bright Silver metallic.

• There are less than a handful of factory-spec cars with 4-pot mills, production or otherwise, that make in excess of 350 BHP. The list includes the erstwhile Mitsubishi EVO FQ-400, the new Ford Focus RS, the Porsche Boxster-Cayman twins and the Mercedes A45-CLA45-GLA45 AMG triplets. The S60 Polestar is the newest car to make it to this list.

• 362 BHP from a 2-liter engine would mean that the specific output of this car is 180 BHP per liter! Now, to really put things into perspective, imagine an engine the size of the Renault Kwid’s making 180 BHP!

• Volvo hasn't told us, but the S60 Polestar comes with a 'secret' Sport Plus mode. It's not the same as the regular Sport mode that opens up the exhaust valves. To activate Sport Plus mode, you will have to smack the gear lever into Sport / Tiptronic, hold it in the '+' position and simultaneously flick the '-' paddle in the steering wheel twice. No, this does not unlock an extra 50 BHP, but what it does is prevent the revvs from falling below 4,000 rpm. If you ever try this on a public road, you need to be straight-jacketed and wheeled straight to the nearest asylum! On a track though - WOW!

• Another trick up Volvo's sleeve is the function of the supercharger. It is operational only till 4,000 rpm, after which it gets decoupled and the engine places reliance solely on the turbocharger for boost.

• BHPians up to date with technological developments will know that Volvo’s twin-charger is not new tech. Volkswagen had toyed with the idea of a turbocharger and a supercharger in the old Polo GTI. It was the only way they could extract 180 BHP from a 1.4-liter petrol engine. Reliability concerns led to Volkswagen reverting to a larger 1.8L TSI (purely turbo) mill for the Polo GTI's facelifted model. It remains to be seen how reliable Volvo’s twin-charger engine will be in the long run.

• Most modern cars give you the option to switch between Comfort and Sport modes at the touch of a button, but not the S60 Polestar; nope! The Öhlins dampers are manually adjustable only, which means you will have to pay a visit to your Volvo dealership / service center if you’re not handy with the tool kit.

• Volvo strongly recommends a 95+ octane diet for the S60 Polestar. Anything lower than that and the car stands to lose power.

• You’d be happy to know that the petrol tank capacity is 68 litres when you realize just how dismal the fuel economy is!

• Brake lights flicker under hard braking (Formula 1 style) – a wicked touch!

• The 12-speaker Harman Kardon stereo should keep you entertained when you’re not hooning around or if you’re stuck in choc-a-block traffic.

• Volvo being a pioneer in the field of safety has equipped the S60 Polestar with all the latest safety tech you can find in any production car, including lane-departure warning, collision warning with full auto-braking for pedestrians, cyclists, vehicles, etc., blind-spot detection with cross-traffic alert and SIPS (Side Impact Protection System) among other features. The sedan has a 5-Star Euro NCAP rating.

• In keeping with the times, Volvo revealed that all future Polestar models will come equipped with hybrid drivetrains.

• How has Volvo managed this mouth-watering Rs. 52.50 lakh (ex-Delhi) price tag? My take on this is current import and duty structures encourage the import of cars with 2-liter, 4-cylinder engines that fall below a certain MRP threshold. Porsche has been cashing in on this by selling the non-S base-models of Boxsters and Caymans that are mildly optioned at best.

Disclaimer : Volvo invited Team-BHP for the S60 Polestar test-drive. They covered all the travel expenses for this driving event. Volvo also provided us with pictures from the drive. Photographs from the 'History' post have been sourced from the official Polestar website.

Aditya 10th May 2017 10:16

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Thread moved from the Assembly Line to the Test-Drives Section. Thanks for sharing!

ajmat 10th May 2017 10:38

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Brilliant review Suhaas, quite a tempting proposition. Will make a nice wedding gift for yourself!

Vik0728 10th May 2017 11:07

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by suhaas307 (Post 4195941)
The Volvo S60 Polestar has been launched in India at a price of Rs. 52.50 lakhs (ex-Delhi).

Brilliant review Suhaas on a brilliantly engineered machine in a stunning shade clap:

Though I am a huge Bimmer fan and would want to own one someday, Volvos have also wooed me at times with their sophistication and 'Bang for Buck' prepositions. :D

Rating this thread a 5 stars.

Santoshbhat 10th May 2017 11:13

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Brillaint effort by Volvo. The blue shade and those gorgeous alloys are to die for. 362 BHP from a 2L is quite unbelievable. That's nearly 180 bhp per litre :Shockked:. Owners will have to be very careful about her diet. Bad fuel will surely mess things up at such high limits. Equally unbelievable is the price. Competitors can breathe easy, there are only 30 of them!

agambhandari 10th May 2017 11:14

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Fantastic review as always! And this little Volvo is a VFM monster! And add to that the exclusivity of the Polestar badge(which btw, sounds much cooler to me than M or RS). Any CLA or C43 AMG buyers are in for a big time thinking on what to do now.
And add to it Volvo is only bringing in 100 units of this beauty. Better run to the showroom if you have the cash.

Ace F355 10th May 2017 11:18

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Excellent Review Suhaas. :thumbs up

Love the Polestar edition to the core. How is the AWD setup like? Still fun in those hairpins? Your post made me feel the system doesn't like to let the rear slide for those 'Ear-to-Ear Grin' moments.

Thanks a lot for sharing. clap:

//M 10th May 2017 11:43

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Brilliant review Suhaas. clap:

This is one delicious looking car. Understated yet loud, the diffuser and the massive wheels add to the character. The interiors are very tasteful yet sporty - the inclusion of alcantara, brushed aluminium, blue stitches on leathers and the CF trim - everything looks brilliant.

The pricing is fabulous for a performance sedan. :thumbs up

Quote:

Originally Posted by agambhandari (Post 4195997)
And add to it Volvo is only bringing in 100 units of this beauty. Better run to the showroom if you have the cash.

Only 30 units allocated for India !

batterylow 10th May 2017 11:46

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
4 Attachment(s)
A few friends and I paid a visit to the Polestar drive since it was in town.

The drive included three parts.
1. A video session on Volvo and the Polestar brand.
2. Hot laps being driven by Volvo professional drivers.
3. 3 laps of the lap in convey following the Volvo driver.

The 3 laps with the Volvo driver was nothing short of brutal, strapped into the co-driver seat the cornering forces assaulted my neck muscles. Most of the corners were taken with nary a jab on the brakes, the immense traction afforded by the 4 wheel driver system holding the car onto the corners like a leech. The driver went on to give us a brief info session on the changes made in the car as compared to the stock S60 and how all of it comes together to make the Polestar the monster that it is. The 3 laps got over in a flash and the dull ache in my neck a fond reminder of the experience.

Post that it as time for our drive, strapped into the driver seats of the 3 cars in convoy behind the Volvo professional driver. The cars had a radio set-up which allowed the leading driver to communicate with us on the lines to take and the braking point for each corner. It was a revelation on the track, the immense capability of the car and the fact that we were in a racing track allowed us to have fun.

Some random pics.

A stall with merchandise.
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Kitna dethi hai when driven pedal to metal.
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The convoy.
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Random shot inside the display hall.
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AMG Power 10th May 2017 12:12

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
Good review. You've covered most of the points an enthusiast needs to know in a review of a car of this sort. Must have been quite a task to take all those pics given that you must have had very little time with the car.

kiku007 10th May 2017 14:16

Re: Driven: Volvo S60 Polestar
 
A genuine attempt at selling a practical sports sedan at a honest price. Hope the 30 are sold out and Volvo's attempt is worth it.

The car will also only get attention from the well informed. Its a killer sleeper.


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