Car review – Volvo S60 T8 Recharge Polestar Engineered

Hybrid Volvo with wings

Volvo wants to shed its boring image. It called on the help of its electric subsidiary Polestar, which infused the plug-in-hybrid S60 T8 Recharge with a sporty flavour to make it a real driver's car.


Striking but rare appearance

Unlike the V60, the S60 is not available with a diesel engine, as it is built in America. You can only choose between petrol and plug-in hybrids, which makes the S60 somewhat of a wallflower on our market. 

Maybe that is why our test car drew so many admiring glances - or was it because of its 19-inch rims, its lowered sports suspension, its eye-catching gold-coloured Brembo brake callipers, its beefy exhaust pipes and its slick spoilers? This is what you get when you choose the Polestar Engineered version, which is, as it were, Volvo's M-Sport or AMG package.

The interior is a little less exuberant: the (excellent) sports seats are upholstered in a combination of anthracite nappa leather and open grid textile, seasoned with contrast stitching and light-coloured piping - just like those of the R-Design. The only thing that really stands out is the gold-coloured material of the safety belts.


Fired up

The electric motor has been left untouched by Polestar: the engineers have focused their attention on the supercharged two-litre four-cylinder, without turning it into a monster. The difference is a rather underwhelming 14 PS and 30 Nm. From 0 to 100 km/h now takes 4.5 seconds - which is just 0.1 second faster than the normal T8. The big gain is to be found in the medium-high rev zone, according to Volvo. The engine indeed gains rotational speed very smoothly and linearly. 

Together, the electric motor and petrol engine produce 405 hp and 670 Nm, which is enough to tickle your belly. The transmission is still assured by the eight-speed automatic from Aisin, which we know as a smooth, comfort-oriented gearbox that could be a bit more reactive for sporty drivers. Good news: Polestar has adjusted the software so that it now responds much more alertly to commands from your right foot while changing gears quicker.


Medal with two sides

The standard setting of the Öhlins shock absorbers - which are only manually adjustable - offers a nice compromise between filtering and body control. This S60 rarely lacks grip and it corners superbly. This is probably partly due to the more efficient torque distribution of the Polestar Engineered version. However, the word ‘frivolous’ is not in its dictionary. After all, it is and remains a Volvo.

The flipside of the medal is that the CO2 emission rating rises from 34 to 40-42 g/km (NEDC 2.0). The difference is hardly noticeable from a fiscal point of view, but those who make full use of the extra Polestar fun pay the price in cash at the pump - and at the power outlet. Also, due to the sporty additions and settings, the electric driving range is quite limited in practice. 30 to 35 kilometres is all you may expect.  

The technical adjustments by Polestar make this Volvo S60 more assertive, especially thanks to the reprogrammed automatic transmission. However, those who allow themselves to be carried away by the driving pleasure will be presented with a hefty fuel bill.

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    + Optimised T8 driveline

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    + Agreeable dynamic balance

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    + Spacious and sporty family car

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    - Manual damper adjustment - Fuel bill can inflate rapidly