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Volvo looking for a blue with S60 Polestar

On pole: Volvo's demure-looking S60 Polestar concept produces 374kW from just 3.0 litres.

Stonking 374kW Volvo S60 Polestar concept lays down the challenge to German rivals

17 Jun 2012


UPDATED: 18/06/2012NEVER mind the benign baby-blue exterior – this Volvo S60 Polestar concept revealed in Sweden at the weekend is set to go hunting Germans with malicious intent.

Armed with 374kW of power and 575Nm of torque from its turbocharged 3.0-litre engine – equating to more than 120kW per litre – the mid-sized marauder will be the most powerful car in its class should it get the tick for production.

Developed by Volvo’s Swedish racing partner Polestar, the all-wheel-drive sedan can cover the 0-100km/h sprint in just 3.9 seconds – almost a full second faster than the 309kW V8 BMW M3 (4.8 sec) and 0.7 seconds quicker than the 331kW 4.2 litre V8 Audi RS5 (4.6 sec).

Top speed is said to be a supercar-like 300km/h.

The car – unveiled in Volvo’s home town during a round of the Swedish touring car championship – has been built for “one specific client”, but do not be surprised if Volvo signs off on a series production version.

Polestar founder and CEO Christian Dahl said the car had been built to Polestar’s own preferences, which he said many “active drivers” shared.

He said the main focus had been to combine a comfortable Volvo driving experience with a high level of power and handling.

Volvo says it will seek customer feedback on the concept before making a decision on its production future.

18 center imageHowever, Volvo Car Australia managing director Matt Braid has confirmed the company's interest in the new model, saying talks were already underway with Polestar about potential projects such as the S60 Polestar concept.

“We would love to have the car, but we have a few more hurdles to jump yet,” he said.

“We have a good relationship with them (Polestar), which is why we are one of the first subsidiaries to bring journalists to Sweden to drive the car.

“Obviously, there will be discussions with head office, too.”

The Polestar’s inline T6 six-cylinder 3.0-litre engine gets a bigger Garret turbocharger, stronger conrods, modified cylinder head, enhanced inlet manifold and air intake and big-bore stainless steel exhaust.

Maximum power of 374kW is achieved at 6500rpm, while peak torque of 575Nm comes in at 5500rpm.

By comparison, the current most powerful standard S60 – the T6 R-Design – wields 224kW and 440Nm.

A special-edition S60 Polestar produced for Volvo Car Australia last year ramped that up to 242kW and 480Nm – still way short of the race-bred performance of the new Polestar concept. The Aussie version could accelerate from 0-100km/h in 5.8 seconds.

Apart from a large slice of extra grunt, the S60 Polestar gets major modifications to the chassis which has been lowered by 30mm, widened by up to 40mm and strengthened to cope with the power.

The car sits on Ohlins three-way shock absorbers and 19-inch wheels with 265/30-section tyres.

The front and rear anti-roll bars have been reinforced, while the electric-assisted power steering has been given a tweak to suit the performance intent.

Suspension bushings and engine mounts have been beefed up, while the control arms have been modified with uniballs.

The gearbox in the concept car is a reinforced manual six-speeder with close ratios, feeding into a high-tech Haldex all-wheel-drive system with an electronically controlled limited-slip differential in the rear.

Brakes are a joint development of Polestar and Brembo, using six-piston callipers gripping 380mm-diameter discs on the front, with 302mm discs with Volvo callipers on the rear.

To keep the car firmly planted on the road, the front splitter has been lowered closer to the ground, and the rear spoiler has been enlarged. A carbon fibre rear diffuser also has been added.

The wheelarches have been subtly extended to cater for the wider track and bigger wheels, widening the overall body width by 20mm.

Inside, the sports seats are from the Polestar Performance range, trimmed with suede-like Alcantara, as is the gearknob and steering wheel to increase grip.

Polestar even went to the trouble of lowering the centre console to improve gear-shifting ergonomics.

The Australian-only version featured lowered suspension, quad exhaust and special alloy wheels, along with the special engine tune.

However, Polestar is said to have watched the Australian venture closely, presumably with its eye on the full-house version that was unveiled in Sweden’s second-largest city in front of many people who will build it, should it get the expected green light from Sweden’s biggest car company.

The orders from China – where Volvo owner Geely has a large presence – might be sufficient alone to get the project across the line.

When Volvo teased the latest car recently, some journalists speculated that the rumoured power figures could indicate a return of the Yamaha-sourced 4.4-litre V8, but Polestar instead used its race development expertise to wring huge performance out of the T6 engine.

The new car is said to have had its genesis in Polestar’s race development program when Volvo switched its Swedish touring car race program from its C30 hatch to the S60 sedan in the Swedish TTA Racing Elite League touring car series last year.

In 2010, Polestar developed a C30 Polestar concept using a 300kW version of Volvo’s five-cylinder T5 turbo engine – the same engine borrowed by Ford for its Focus RS. The C30 Polestar never made it into production.

Volvo performance car fans have their fingers crossed that the new vehicle will make it down the production line.

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