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

Polestar or not, the S60 is 1 sharp-dressed sedan.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

In the two several years due to the fact I first drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s truly only transformed 1 matter: the brakes. But this seemingly tiny tweak basically will make a enormous distinction. With this significant piece of the effectiveness puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is last but not least the fully recognized sport sedan it constantly meant to be.

Table of Contents


  • Strong hybrid effectiveness
  • The brakes aren’t terrible any longer
  • Lovely layout, within and out

Don’t Like

  • Much more highly-priced foundation price tag than rivals
  • T8 powertrain appears wheezy
  • Sensus infotainment is continue to a little buggy

The hardware was by no means the difficulty the big, 6-piston Brembo entrance brakes provided heaps of stopping energy. But the electronic brake-by-wire program — exactly where the brake pedal sends a sign to a laptop or computer, which then tells the brakes what to do — was badly tuned. Volvo tweaked the program and manufactured a several slight hardware improvements, resulting in a braking knowledge that not only delivers improved suggestions to the driver, but vastly smooths out the changeover concerning the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. 

The previous brakes have been so tough to gauge that you would unknowingly implement far too much tension, the nose of the auto would dive and the S60’s rear finish would unsettle — suitable prior to a change, no less. Even even worse, these grabby attributes manufactured the S60 Polestar Engineered kind of a trouble to drive in the city or in cease-and-go site visitors. I am content to report that at all speeds, the new setup is way, way improved.

I am 100% in this article for gold calipers.

Steven Ewing/Roadshow

Which is a terrific matter, mainly because the rest of the Polestar Engineered remedy will make the S60 a real hoot. The two.-liter I4 motor is the exact 1 you are going to uncover in Volvo’s other T8-badged automobiles. It is turbocharged, supercharged and operates in conjunction with an electric motor mounted at the rear axle for a balanced complete of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-ft of torque. The 8-speed computerized transmission largely fades into the history, so much so that I really don’t even trouble with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And with the electric motor a-hummin’, the S60 Polestar Engineered has via-the-street all-wheel drive to greatly enhance grip, particularly if you reside in a location with lousy weather conditions.

The Polestar-distinct updates perform a take care of. The adjustable Öhlins dampers can transform the journey from beautiful and plush to agency and taut, though it really is not a thing you can do at the push of a button. Alternatively, there are manual knobs on possibly facet of the motor bay — painted in a rad shade of gold — exactly where you can agency up or loosen the dampers to your heart’s articles. I’ll confess, there’s a thing oddly gratifying about altering the dampers manually and it really is neat to attempt 1 setting, drive a several miles, make adjustments, do one more run, rinse and repeat. But I have to question how a lot of proprietors will basically acquire the time to get below the hood and tinker with these knobs on the standard. (Pro suggestion: Deliver some gloves or a rag if you happen to be likely to change the knobs right after working the motor for a though. They get very, very scorching. Ask me how I know.)

With the dampers tuned somewhere concerning medium and medium-well, the S60 Polestar Engineered provides a compliant journey. The steering has wonderful weight to its motion but feels a little numb on centre, but at least the wheel itself is a joy to keep, wrapped in leather and just the suitable quantity of girthy. The 235/40-series Continental High quality Contact 6 tires present heaps of grip, but have just plenty of sidewall to retain the 19-inch wheels from being far too punishing. And hey, due to the fact the brakes are no lengthier a washy-then-grabby affair, you can have more speed into corners, realizing the tension you put on the cease pedal will be precisely and efficiently translated to these big, bold Brembos.

Most folks will possibly leave the S60 in its default Hybrid manner, exactly where the motor and battery perform together to deliver correct energy without the need of killing all round effectiveness. A Hold setting can retain the battery’s point out of charge as-is and if you want to increase more juice on the go, push a button for Charge manner, which sends supplemental motor energy into the ten.4-kilowatt-hour pack. A product-distinct effectiveness manner — unimaginatively known as Polestar Engineered — puts all the things on entire boil. And you can even drive the S60 below fully electric energy if you desire, though only for shorter distances (22 miles, according to the EPA).

Entertaining as the S60 is when you happen to be truly on it, what is actually terrific is that it really is also beautifully content to acquire a chill capsule and simmer down when you just aren’t in the temper. I basically assume the added breadth of the hybrid bundle — the ability to go from silent and docile to entire-blast rocket — increases the Polestar’s enchantment. Some sport sedans perform far too tough to bash all the time, regardless of whether it really 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 silent it borders on serene — and what are certainly some of the best entrance seats in any auto at any price tag, will make this Volvo a auto I would love to have as a everyday driver. It is as much at dwelling working to CVS for some rest room paper as it is blasting down my favorite canyon street.

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

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The other pros and disadvantages are equivalent to other S60 types. The exterior is handsome as heck and I love all the gold accents within and out. The inside is similarly stately, with terrific elements everywhere. You will find a boatload of driver-help tech conventional, which include all the modern features like adaptive cruise handle, lane-retaining help, blind-spot checking and more. The Sensus infotainment procedure is lovely and feature-prosperous, though the nine-inch touchscreen’s responsiveness is continue to a strike-or-pass up affair. Honestly, if there’s 1 main grievance to register, it really is that the hybrid powertrain appears kind of wheezy and coarse, which is specifically disgraceful provided the more intense mission of the Polestar Engineered trim.

I have constantly considered the S60 was kind of underappreciated among compact luxurious sedans and that is correct of this Polestar trim, far too. You will find a great deal to like about an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, but none of them truly stand out as definitely improved possibilities. Some have improved cabin tech. Some are a little more high-class. But I have no doubt the S60 Polestar Engineered could stand toe-to-toe with these significant-hitters as significantly as dynamics are anxious, though it really is worth noting the Volvo is a little bit more potent than these core competitors.

At $65,795 to start off (which include $995 for destination), the S60 Polestar is more highly-priced than its aforementioned rivals, but only if you assess the foundation MSRPs. Load up an Audi S4 or Mercedes-AMG C43 with all the great stuff — like what is actually conventional on this S60 — and you happen to be searching at roughly $65,000. In the finish, it evens out. And now that the Polestar’s big effectiveness caveat is fortunately a matter of the previous, there’s even more reason to consider the S60 as an choice to 1 of the German go-tos.

Maria J. Danford

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