2017 Volvo S60 Polestar
For centuries, painters and photographers have adored the quality of daylight in the south of France, where tourism promoters tout 320 sunny days a year. Our visit covered three of the other days, during which we had not one glimpse of the sky over Provence. Clouds stretched horizon to horizon while fog and occasional rain blanketed the rocky hills outside of Marseille. But no matter. Entertaining driver’s roads also cover this landscape, and our group of 2017 Volvo S60 Polestars danced over these, their Rebel Blue paint glowing like fallen patches of clear sky that had dropped through the cloud layers. Traffic around us included Morgans and Lancia Delta Integrales driven by race fans headed, like us, for the Paul Ricard race circuit. This first weekend in April, Paul Ricard was hosting the season-opening race of the FIA’s 2016 World Touring Car Championship (WTCC), in which Polestar’s new two-car team was making its debut.
No races in this “world” championship visit North America (the Western Hemisphere sees one round in Argentina), but Volvo’s factory-backed entry in the series will matter to that small cadre of enthusiasts who favor Swedish-minded performance cars. They’ll also recognize Rebel Blue as the model-specific color offered since the special-edition S60 sedan and V60 wagon Polestar models debuted for 2015. The 2017 model went on sale the day after the race; Volvo wasn’t so arrogant as to expect a win in the car’s first outing on Sunday, but selling performance on Monday has become part of the Polestar mission.
New Engine for the Street Car
For its third year, the roadgoing S60 Polestar gets a heart transplant. It’s now powered by an uprated version of Volvo’s Drive-E four-cylinder engine instead of the 3.0-liter inline six-cylinder, while an Aisin eight-speed replaces the former six-speed automatic transmission. Whereas the turbocharged six-cylinder was rated at 345 horsepower at 5250 rpm, the four is both supercharged and turbocharged and extracts 362 horsepower from a mere 2.0 liters of displacement. This engine is rated at 302 horsepower in the S60 and 316 horsepower in the XC90. Polestar’s version has a bigger turbocharger, more-aggressive valve timing, stronger connecting rods, a high-capacity fuel pump, and a larger, freer-flowing intake system fitted with a low-restriction filter. Its bigger 3.0-inch exhaust system leads to twin tailpipes, and there’s a valve that opens under electronic control or when the driver chooses Sport mode with the transmission lever. Read more...