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The story behind the Polestar Volvo S60

Way of the viking: The S60 Polestar may help shift the public’s perception of Volvo as a brand.

With support from Australia and beyond, Volvo’s racing arm Polestar fired up the S60


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19 Apr 2013

THE world’s first ‘proper’ Polestar production vehicle started life more than two years ago.

Described as an “all-in” performance exercise by Volvo Car Corporation and Swedish racing and tuning firm Polestar, the S60 Polestar Concept of 2011 was more track vehicle than grand tourer.

Unlike Polestar’s more conventional road-going cars, the concept featured a heavily modified chassis, three-way adjustable racing dampers, a Haldex four-wheel-drive system, a highly worked 3.0-litre in-line six-cylinder petrol engine delivering 378kW of power, and a specially prepared six-speed manual gearbox – the first to be mated to the long-lived T6 six-pot unit.

Warmly received by the media, and prompted by a number of international markets, it led to a more accessible and street-legal program that has culminated in the 2013 S60 Polestar – a limited edition flagship codenamed ‘E100’ and commissioned for Volvo Car Australia.

After getting the thumbs-up from Sweden in October, development was paid for wholly by Polestar.

According to Volvo Australia managing director Matt Braid, Polestar and Down Under are a natural fit for each other.

“Polestar understands us. They know what we want from the market. They know what we can achieve. We know what they are capable of,“ he told GoAuto.

“And between us we came up with the general package.”

All 50 of the Australian delivery Polestars are being made now on the regular S60 production line in Ghent, Belgium, with some finishing details carried out by Polestar.

While Polestar engine software enhancements have been available in Australia for more than a year, this is the first vehicle-engineering project by the Gothenburg-based firm.

“It is really engineered by Polestar,” says S60 Polestar program manager Henrik Fries.

“We have gone through everything in the car… but we have also done it together with Volvo, with access to all the Volvo facilities including chassis dynos, wind tunnels and test tracks.

“Brakes, engineering and chassis were undertaken by us, with testing also done by our racing drivers.”

Much of the testing and development was carried out in Spain, Germany and Sweden, with further hot-weather assessment in the Middle East.

For the S60, software changes – a Polestar specialty over its 17-year history of tuning and racing Volvos – have to control a new, bigger Borg Warner turbo installation with intercooler, along with a freer-flowing exhaust system, and the implementation of a ‘launch control’ device that works in unison with the gearbox.

Speaking of which, Polestar admits the 257kW/500Nm-plus output maximums are dictated by the durability limit of the Getrag six-speed automatic gearbox.

Pentastar is expected to replace it with a new gearbox able to handle more torque.

Central to the S60 Polestar’s transformation into a limited-edition production series was the specialised suspension development work undertaken with Swedish company Ohlins.

“It all started with the chassis,” Mr Fries said.

“Quite early on, we decided to develop a damper that fulfils all our needs – not just for race-track handling but also our road needs.

“Together with Ohlins we made an adjustable damper to suit the situation.”

Aiding the newcomer’s new-found dynamic capabilities are upgrades to the springs, anti-roll bars, rear tie blades, top mounts, rear toe link arms, beefier strut braces, and the largest brake package (336mm x 29mm front and 302mm x 22mm rear) that Volvo offers.

While the ride height remains the same as S60 R-Design models, the wheel and tyre package (8x19” ET51 rims shod with Michelin Pilot Super Sport 235/40R19 rubber) is specific to the Polestar. Larger wheels and lower-profile upgrades are not possible due to chassis limitations.

However, a four-calliper Brembo option with 365x29mm floating pin discs and Endless ME20 performance pads, is available.

Still on options, buyers can sidestep the standard ‘Rebel Blue’ hero colour for a black, red or white paint job.

“This is a car that drivers can enjoy every day of the year… in all weather conditions,” Polestar managing director Hans Baath said.

“It is more of a driver’s car than a performance car, because a performance car is so focussed on engine output.”

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