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

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


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In the two several years due to the fact I to start with drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s really only altered just one point: the brakes. But this seemingly smaller tweak actually makes a substantial difference. With this vital piece of the general performance puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is lastly the fully recognized sport sedan it always meant to be.

Like

  • Strong hybrid general performance
  • The brakes are not awful any longer
  • Attractive style and design, within and out

Will not Like

  • Extra pricey base selling price than rivals
  • T8 powertrain seems wheezy
  • Sensus infotainment is however a tiny buggy

The hardware was by no means the problem the big, six-piston Brembo entrance brakes offered tons of stopping electricity. But the digital brake-by-wire program — wherever the brake pedal sends a sign to a laptop, which then tells the brakes what to do — was inadequately tuned. Volvo tweaked the program and made a few small hardware improvements, resulting in a braking encounter that not only provides far better suggestions to the driver, but vastly smooths out the changeover amongst the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. 

The outdated brakes were so challenging to gauge that you would unknowingly apply as well a lot stress, the nose of the vehicle would dive and the S60’s rear conclusion would unsettle — right prior to a turn, no considerably less. Even even worse, these grabby attributes made the S60 Polestar Engineered sort of a problem to generate in the town or in quit-and-go site visitors. I am content to report that at all speeds, the new set up is way, way far better.

I am a hundred% here for gold calipers.


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That’s a great point, mainly because the relaxation of the Polestar Engineered therapy makes the S60 a serious hoot. The 2.-liter I4 motor is the identical just one you’ll come across in Volvo’s other T8-badged cars and trucks. It is turbocharged, supercharged and will work in conjunction with an electric powered motor mounted at the rear axle for a healthier complete of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-feet of torque. The 8-speed automatic transmission largely fades into the track record, so a lot so that I really don’t even hassle with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And with the electric powered motor a-hummin’, the S60 Polestar Engineered has via-the-road all-wheel generate to boost grip, specially if you stay in a put with lousy weather.

The Polestar-particular updates perform a deal with. The adjustable Öhlins dampers can rework the ride from lovely and plush to company and taut, nevertheless it can be not a little something you can do at the thrust of a button. As a substitute, there are handbook knobs on possibly side of the motor bay — painted in a rad shade of gold — wherever you can company up or loosen the dampers to your heart’s articles. I will acknowledge, you can find a little something oddly enjoyable about altering the dampers manually and it can be neat to test just one location, generate a few miles, make adjustments, do an additional operate, rinse and repeat. But I have to surprise how several proprietors will actually acquire the time to get below the hood and tinker with these knobs on the standard. (Professional idea: Convey some gloves or a rag if you happen to be heading to turn the knobs following working the motor for a whilst. They get incredibly, incredibly incredibly hot. Ask me how I know.)

With the dampers tuned somewhere amongst medium and medium-effectively, the S60 Polestar Engineered provides a compliant ride. The steering has pleasant bodyweight to its action but feels a tiny numb on middle, but at least the wheel itself is a pleasure to keep, wrapped in leather and just the right amount of money of girthy. The 235/40-collection Continental High quality Get hold of six tires present tons of grip, but have just more than enough sidewall to keep the 19-inch wheels from currently being as well punishing. And hey, due to the fact the brakes are no extended a washy-then-grabby affair, you can have far more speed into corners, being aware of the stress you put on the quit pedal will be accurately and effortlessly translated to these big, daring Brembos.

Most men and women will in all probability depart the S60 in its default Hybrid mode, wherever the motor and battery perform with each other to deliver appropriate electricity with no killing all round efficiency. A Maintain location can keep the battery’s point out of charge as-is and if you want to insert far more juice on the go, thrust a button for Cost mode, which sends supplemental motor electricity into the ten.four-kilowatt-hour pack. A product-particular general performance mode — unimaginatively referred to as Polestar Engineered — puts every thing on full boil. And you can even generate the S60 below fully electric powered electricity if you want, nevertheless only for short distances (22 miles, according to the EPA).

Entertaining as the S60 is when you happen to be really on it, what is actually great is that it can be also properly content to acquire a chill pill and simmer down when you just are not in the mood. I actually think the additional breadth of the hybrid bundle — the ability to go from silent and docile to full-blast rocket — will increase the Polestar’s charm. Some sport sedans perform as well challenging to occasion all the time, regardless of whether it can be with a super-rigid ride (Mercedes-AMG C43) or go-go-go throttle tuning (BMW M340i). Combining that with the S60’s cabin — which is so silent it borders on serene — and what are completely some of the finest entrance seats in any vehicle at any selling price, makes this Volvo a vehicle I would really like to have as a daily driver. It is as a lot at property working to CVS for some bathroom paper as it is blasting down my favorite canyon road.

Matte paint is a $seven,000 alternative. Woof.


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The other professionals and cons are related to other S60 versions. The exterior is handsome as heck and I really like all the gold accents within and out. The inside is similarly stately, with great supplies in all places. There is certainly a boatload of driver-aid tech common, like all the modern amenities like adaptive cruise regulate, lane-trying to keep guide, blind-place checking and far more. The Sensus infotainment process is beautiful and characteristic-abundant, nevertheless the nine-inch touchscreen’s responsiveness is however a hit-or-miss affair. Honestly, if you can find just one important criticism to sign-up, it can be that the hybrid powertrain seems sort of wheezy and coarse, which is significantly disgraceful presented the far more intense mission of the Polestar Engineered trim.

I have always considered the S60 was sort of underappreciated amongst compact luxurious sedans and that is real of this Polestar trim, as well. There is certainly a good deal to like about an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, but none of them really stand out as really far better selections. Some have far better cabin tech. Some are a tiny far more lavish. But I have no doubt the S60 Polestar Engineered could stand toe-to-toe with these significant-hitters as significantly as dynamics are anxious, nevertheless it can be really worth noting the Volvo is a little bit far more effective than these main competitors.

At $65,795 to start (like $995 for location), the S60 Polestar is far more pricey than its aforementioned rivals, but only if you compare the base MSRPs. Load up an Audi S4 or Mercedes-AMG C43 with all the fantastic stuff — like what is actually common on this S60 — and you happen to be hunting at about $65,000. In the conclusion, it evens out. And now that the Polestar’s big general performance caveat is thankfully a point of the previous, you can find even far more motive to contemplate the S60 as an choice to just one of the German go-tos.