2020 Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered review: Little tweaks yield big improvements

    Polestar or not, the S60 is one sharp-dressed sedan.
    Steven Ewing/Roadshow
    In the 2 years since I first drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s actually solely modified one factor: the brakes. But this seemingly small tweak truly makes an enormous distinction. With this vital piece of the efficiency puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is lastly the totally realized sport sedan it all the time supposed to be.

    LikePotent hybrid efficiencyThe brakes aren’t terrible anymoreGorgeous design, in and out

    Don’t LikeMore costly base value than rivalsT8 powertrain sounds wheezySensus infotainment remains to be a bit buggy

    The {hardware} was by no means the difficulty; the large, six-piston Brembo entrance brakes supplied a number of stopping energy. But 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 a number of minor {hardware} adjustments, leading to a braking expertise that not solely gives higher suggestions to the driving force, however vastly smooths out the transition between the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. The outdated brakes have been so onerous to gauge that you just’d unknowingly apply an excessive amount of strain, the nostril of the automotive would dive and the S60’s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 form of a problem to drive within the metropolis or in stop-and-go site visitors. I’m completely satisfied to report that in any respect speeds, the brand new setup is method, method higher.

    I’m 100% right here for gold calipers.
    Steven Ewing/Roadshow
    That’s an important factor, as a result of the remainder of the Polestar Engineered remedy makes the S60 an actual hoot. The 2.0-liter I4 engine is identical one you may discover in Volvo’s different T8-badged automobiles. It’s turbocharged, supercharged and works at the side of an electrical motor mounted on the rear axle for a wholesome whole of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. The eight-speed automated transmission largely fades into the background, a lot in order that I do not even trouble 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 should 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 pretty and plush to agency and taut, although it is not one thing you are able to do on the push of a button. Instead, there are guide knobs on both aspect of the engine bay — painted in a rad shade of gold — the place you may agency up or loosen the dampers to your coronary heart’s content material. I’ll admit, there’s one thing oddly satisfying about altering the dampers manually and it is neat to strive one setting, drive a number of miles, make changes, do one other run, rinse and repeat. But I’ve to marvel what number of house owners will truly take the time to get below the hood and tinker with these knobs on the common. (Pro tip: Bring some gloves or a rag if you are going to flip the knobs after operating 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 a bit numb on heart, however no less than the wheel itself is a pleasure to carry, wrapped in leather-based and simply the correct amount of girthy. The 235/40-series Continental Premium Contact 6 tires provide a number of grip, however have simply sufficient sidewall to maintain the 19-inch wheels from being too punishing. And hey, because the brakes are now not a washy-then-grabby affair, you may carry extra velocity into corners, figuring out the strain you placed on the cease pedal will likely be precisely and easily translated to these huge, daring Brembos.

    Most folks will most likely go away the S60 in its default Hybrid mode, the place the engine and battery work collectively to ship applicable energy with out killing total effectivity. A Hold setting can preserve the battery’s state of cost as-is and if you wish to add extra juice on the go, push a button for Charge mode, which sends supplemental engine energy into the 10.4-kilowatt-hour pack. A model-specific efficiency mode — unimaginatively referred to as Polestar Engineered — places the whole lot on full boil. And you may even drive the S60 below totally electrical energy if you want, although just for quick distances (22 miles, in accordance with the EPA).Entertaining because the S60 is once you’re actually on it, what’s nice is that it is also completely completely satisfied to take a chill tablet and simmer down once you simply aren’t within the temper. I truly suppose the added breadth of the hybrid bundle — the power to go from silent and docile to full-blast rocket — will increase the Polestar’s attraction. Some sport sedans work too onerous 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’d like to have as a each day driver. It’s as a lot at residence operating to CVS for some rest room paper as it’s blasting down my favourite canyon street.Matte paint is a $7,000 possibility. Woof.
    Steven Ewing/Roadshow
    The different execs and cons are much like different S60 fashions. The exterior is good-looking as heck and I like all of the gold accents in and out. The inside is equally stately, with nice supplies in all places. There’s a boatload of driver-assistance tech customary, together with all the fashionable 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 remains to be a hit-or-miss affair. Honestly, if there’s one main criticism to register, it is that the hybrid powertrain sounds form 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 form of underappreciated amongst compact luxurious sedans and that is true of this Polestar trim, too. There’s so much to love about an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, however none of them actually stand out as actually higher choices. Some have higher cabin tech. Some are a bit extra luxurious. But 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 great things — like what’s customary on this S60 — and also you’re roughly $65,000. In the top, it evens out. And now that the Polestar’s huge efficiency caveat is fortunately a factor of the previous, there’s much more purpose to think about the S60 as a substitute for one of many German go-tos.

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