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

Table of Contents

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

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In the two several years considering that I first drove the Polestar Engineered S60, Volvo’s really only transformed a single factor: the brakes. But this seemingly modest tweak truly makes a large big difference. With this important piece of the functionality puzzle sorted, the S60 Polestar Engineered is lastly the thoroughly understood sport sedan it generally meant to be.


  • Strong hybrid functionality
  • The brakes aren’t dreadful any more
  • Attractive design and style, within and out

Really don’t Like

  • Far more costly base selling price than rivals
  • T8 powertrain sounds wheezy
  • Sensus infotainment is still a tiny buggy

The components was in no way the problem the huge, 6-piston Brembo entrance brakes provided lots of halting electrical power. But the electronic brake-by-wire computer software — the place the brake pedal sends a signal to a laptop or computer, which then tells the brakes what to do — was badly tuned. Volvo tweaked the computer software and created a couple small components variations, resulting in a braking working experience that not only provides much better responses to the driver, but vastly smooths out the transition among the S60’s regenerative and mechanical braking. 

The outdated brakes were being so hard to gauge that you would unknowingly utilize also a lot stress, the nose of the automobile would dive and the S60’s rear conclude would unsettle — proper ahead of a transform, no much less. Even worse, these grabby attributes created the S60 Polestar Engineered form of a headache to generate in the town or in stop-and-go traffic. I am satisfied to report that at all speeds, the new setup is way, way much better.

I am one hundred{d11068cee6a5c14bc1230e191cd2ec553067ecb641ed9b4e647acef6cc316fdd} in this article for gold calipers.

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Which is a great factor, due to the fact the rest of the Polestar Engineered therapy makes the S60 a authentic hoot. The 2.-liter I4 motor is the similar a single you’ll discover in Volvo’s other T8-badged automobiles. It can be turbocharged, supercharged and functions in conjunction with an electric motor mounted at the rear axle for a balanced whole of 415 horsepower and 494 pound-toes of torque. The eight-speed automated transmission largely fades into the history, so a lot so that I never even bother with the steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters. And with the electric motor a-hummin’, the S60 Polestar Engineered has by means of-the-street all-wheel generate to greatly enhance grip, in particular if you stay in a area with awful temperature.

The Polestar-distinct upgrades work a address. The adjustable Öhlins dampers can remodel the ride from wonderful and plush to business and taut, although it truly is not something you can do at the force of a button. As an alternative, there are guide knobs on possibly facet of the motor bay — painted in a rad shade of gold — the place you can business up or loosen the dampers to your heart’s written content. I am going to admit, you can find something oddly gratifying about altering the dampers manually and it truly is neat to consider a single placing, generate a couple miles, make changes, do an additional operate, rinse and repeat. But I have to surprise how many homeowners will truly acquire the time to get beneath the hood and tinker with these knobs on the normal. (Pro tip: Convey some gloves or a rag if you might be heading to transform the knobs immediately after managing the motor for a while. They get quite, quite sizzling. Talk to me how I know.)

With the dampers tuned someplace among medium and medium-perfectly, the S60 Polestar Engineered delivers a compliant ride. The steering has great fat to its action but feels a tiny numb on middle, but at least the wheel alone is a joy to hold, wrapped in leather-based and just the proper amount of girthy. The 235/forty-sequence Continental Top quality Call six tires supply lots of grip, but have just adequate sidewall to hold the 19-inch wheels from staying also punishing. And hey, considering that the brakes are no for a longer period a washy-then-grabby affair, you can have extra speed into corners, being aware of the stress you place on the stop pedal will be accurately and efficiently translated to these huge, bold Brembos.

Most persons will in all probability depart the S60 in its default Hybrid manner, the place the motor and battery work together to provide correct electrical power without having killing overall effectiveness. A Keep placing can hold the battery’s point out of charge as-is and if you want to add extra juice on the go, force a button for Demand manner, which sends supplemental motor electrical power into the 10.four-kilowatt-hour pack. A design-distinct functionality manner — unimaginatively referred to as Polestar Engineered — puts everything on full boil. And you can even generate the S60 beneath thoroughly electric electrical power if you want, although only for shorter distances (22 miles, in accordance to the EPA).

Entertaining as the S60 is when you might be really on it, what is actually great is that it truly is also flawlessly satisfied to acquire a chill tablet and simmer down when you just aren’t in the mood. I truly imagine the extra breadth of the hybrid bundle — the capability to go from silent and docile to full-blast rocket — will increase the Polestar’s appeal. Some sport sedans work also hard to bash all the time, whether or not it truly is with a super-rigid ride (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 totally some of the ideal entrance seats in any automobile at any selling price, makes this Volvo a automobile I might appreciate to have as a day-to-day driver. It can be as a lot at residence managing to CVS for some bathroom paper as it is blasting down my preferred canyon street.

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

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The other professionals and negatives are similar to other S60 types. The exterior is handsome as heck and I appreciate all the gold accents within and out. The interior is similarly stately, with great components everywhere you go. You can find a boatload of driver-guidance tech conventional, which includes all the fashionable facilities like adaptive cruise manage, lane-preserving guide, blind-location checking and extra. The Sensus infotainment method is lovely and feature-rich, although the 9-inch touchscreen’s responsiveness is still a hit-or-miss out on affair. Honestly, if you can find a single big complaint to register, it truly is that the hybrid powertrain sounds form of wheezy and coarse, which is especially disgraceful specified the extra aggressive mission of the Polestar Engineered trim.

I have generally considered the S60 was form of underappreciated amongst compact luxurious sedans and that’s accurate of this Polestar trim, also. You can find a ton to like about an Audi S4, BMW M340i or Mercedes-AMG C43, but none of them really stand out as definitely much better options. Some have much better cabin tech. Some are a tiny extra magnificent. But I have no doubt the S60 Polestar Engineered could stand toe-to-toe with these large-hitters as significantly as dynamics are involved, although it truly is value noting the Volvo is a little bit extra potent than these core rivals.

At $sixty five,795 to start off (which includes $995 for destination), the S60 Polestar is extra costly than its aforementioned rivals, but only if you review the base MSRPs. Load up an Audi S4 or Mercedes-AMG C43 with all the fantastic stuff — like what is actually conventional on this S60 — and you might be on the lookout at roughly $sixty five,000. In the conclude, it evens out. And now that the Polestar’s huge functionality caveat is fortunately a factor of the previous, you can find even extra purpose to consider the S60 as an choice to a single of the German go-tos.