Is The Volvo S60 Polestar The Best Value Performance Car In India?
This car costs USD 60,000 (just over Rs 42 lakh) on the other side of the pond. Usually, the difference between Indian and US pricing for a completely built unit (CBU) varies between 1.5 to 3x – but a 1.25 times difference is unprecendented, especially for a performance sedan like the Volvo S60 Polestar.
Let’s roll over the stats, shall we? A 2-litre supercharged and turbocharged motor has been carried over from the previous S60 T6. A slightly larger turbo, a new intake system and a couple of other hardware and software changes have meant that power has gone from 306 hp to 367 hp. You also get an all-wheel drive system to rein in all that power. Stiffer suspension, with Ohlins dampers (yes, the same ones as on those fancy motorcycles) with pre-adjustable compression and rebound, fatter tyres wrapped around gorgeous 20-inch wheels and Brembo carbon brakes in the front make up the key mechanical changes.Not to forget, you also get Alcantara leather on the inside, lots of blue stitching, blue badges, a lip spoiler on the front and a boot spoiler on the rear. There’s also that lovely paint job, aptly titled Rebel Blue.
For what is Volvo’s nascent attempt at taking on the big boys from BMW’s M, Mercedes-Benz’s AMG and Audi’s Sport division, the S60 Polestar is a pretty damn decent effort. Sure, the S60 is in its seventh year, but apart from the slightly dated interiors, there is little to suggest it’s lacking in oomph. Driving on the Kari Speedway’s small but technical track, the Polestar seemed to tick all the right boxes. Hit 180+ kph at the end of the start-finish straight – check. Turn in with just a bit of understeer, so as not to scare yourself silly – check. Good steering feedback and nice turn in when not overdoing it – check. Sort out the bumpy nature of the track in Coimbatore – check. Sound and go that match your expectations (only to find the gearbox a little slow on downshifts) – check. Put a wide grin like a Cheshire cat on my face – check.
The damages, you ask? If your math is good, you would have figured it out early in the piece. If it isn’t, Rs 52.5 lakh (ex-showroom) for something with a specific output of 184 bhp/ litre, a winner of the Wards 10 Best Engines award in 2016 and competition that starts with a higher price tag should put the Polestar in serious contention. Just 30 of these will find homes this year in India, if people think like we do. I, on the other hand, know what to save up for when these turn up in the preowned market a few years from now.
Volvo and Motorsport
To truly understand Polestar, one must understand Volvo’s role in motorsport. It first participated in motorsport in 1928, just a year after its inception. Post WWII, Volvo’s participation in rallying and tin-top racing saw it garner multiple European and World championships. There’s been an Indian angle too – the Singh brothers, Joginder and Jaswant, won the Safari Rally in Kenya (widely regarded then as the toughest rally in the world) in 1965, in a PV544. Successes continued through the years; the 240 Turbo won the European Touring Car Championship in 1985 and the open DTM touring the same year. But its most famous entry, albeit due to odd circumstances, was in 1994 in the British Touring Car Championship, where Volvo entered with the 850 Estate, a car that went up against traditional sedans and did surprisingly well. Polestar was created not long after, first as a factory-backed team in 2001-02 and then as a preferred partner for motorsport activities, before being acquired by Volvo in 2015.