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Although traditionally known for safety, over recent decades Volvo has manufactured a number of high performance models. Based on the already rapid V60 T6 R-Design, this V60 Polestar has been developed from 20 years of motorsport experience and looks, handles and goes like no other road-going Volvo.

Externally the V60 Polestar gets an extended front spoiler, new roof spoiler and fatter 20” Polestar designed alloy wheels, although the overall effect is still fairly subtle.

But it’s under the skin where the big changes have been made. The stock 3.0 litre straight-six engine has seen extensive development with a new Borg Warner twin-scroll turbo and intercooler to produce 350 HP/257 kW at 5700 rpm and 500 Nm/369 lb-ft at 2800 rpm. The engine breathes through a 2.5” stainless steel exhaust system, making for a throaty engine note. The six-speed automatic gearbox features a new paddle shift system that together with the Polestar developed Haldex four-wheel drive system takes the car from 0-62 mph in just 5.0 seconds and to a limited top speed of 155 mph. The gearbox as well as the four-wheel drive system and traction control system has also been recalibrated in order to provide maximum grip.

Of course having more power is no good if the chassis can’t cope, so upgrades here include modifications made to increase rigidity of the chassis to cater for the 80% stiffer springs relative to the standard V60 R-Design. These changes are combined with the tailored high performance Öhlins dampers.

The brake system has undergone substantial modifications, too. Most visible are the 371 millimetre ventilated front discs and six-piston Brembo calipers, to ensure the Polestar stops just as well as it goes.

So, what’s this souped up Swede like to drive? In a word... fast!  The V60 Polestar has a split personality: In normal mode and when driven gently, it cruises quietly much like a regular non-performance model. Indeed, engine refinement in these circumstances is actually very good. In Sport mode the engine’s character becomes far more fruiter with the active exhaust emitting a howl above 3000 rpm, accompanied by a faint whistle from the turbocharger. Throttle response becomes much sharper and urgent due to the engine’s revs being kept in the turbo-zone, although it’s harder to drive as smoothly in this mode.

Handling is sharp for a big car - the Polestar exhibiting good front end bite when threading along a twisty B-road. The levels of grip and traction also belie what you’d expect from a Volvo estate, too - the clever Haldex four-wheel drive system allowing you to accelerate and be effortlessly shoehorned out of a corner without even a chirp of complaint from the tyres. The downside to handling ‘like it’s on rails’ is a ride which is on the firm side (especially in the rear). Although the Öhlins dampers can in fact be mechanically adjusted to a more comfortable setting – unfortunately this can’t be done via a button on the dashboard. The steering feels weighty and accurate, if lacking that last nuance of feel that you may find in a sports car.

The V60 Polestar’s interior looks for the most part like a regular V60 R-Design – but of course there are Polestar logos in place of the R-Design logos and there’s ice-blue stitching in place of red. Other subtle differences are carbon fibre effect trim around centre console and a split leather and alcantara steering wheel rim.

Spec wise you get everything on the Polestar – even the Volvo Sensus Connect infotainment system and premium Harmon Kardon audio as standard.  All you have to choose is the exterior paint colour – blue, white, silver or black.

It might not be the biggest estate in its class but there’s more than ample room for all occupants, along with a decent sized 430 litre boot - the split folding seats folding flat to free up 1241 litres of cargo room.

Verdict:

Polestar has transformed an already fast Volvo into a rocket-ship. True, it can feel a bit uncompromising at times, but the combination of discreet looks, high equipment levels and relatively exclusivity (only 125 were imported to the UK) all combine to make the V60 Polestar an appealing high performance estate.

Tech spec:

Volvo V60 Polestar

Price from: £49,775
Engine: 3.0-litre turbo petrol
Power: 345bhp
Torque: 369lb ft
0-62mph: 5.0 seconds
Top speed: 155mph
Fuel economy (combined): 27.7mpg
CO2 237g/km