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Australia in Polestar’s hot seat
The Volvo S60’s performance makeover must fire in Australia before going global
18 Apr 2013
POLESTAR says its future as a performance-car engineer for Volvo hangs on Australia’s response to its firebrand S60 Polestar.
Aligning itself to the famous Swedish brand in a similar way that Renaultsport does with Renault, the Gothenburg-based motorsport specialist hopes to offer performance-luxury versions of most Volvo models worldwide within the next few years.
Australia is the first market to receive the S60 Polestar – the circa-$120,000, 250km/h sports sedan flagship that is already garnering positive reviews following its media introduction in southern Sweden this week.
According to Polestar managing director Hans Baath, his S60 must perform in Australia before it migrates elsewhere in the world.
“The first thing is that we have to get it right in Australia, and then we can launch an alteration of this vehicle in other markets,” he said.
“Australia is a market that understands cars, and the size of the market makes it possible for us to control it.
“We can’t (afford) to fail. The markets that we do go into, this car has to work.”
Volvo Cars Australia managing director Matt Braid said he believed it was a risk worth taking, especially as Australian consumers were receptive to what Polestar was trying to achieve.
“Australia is one of the most performance-orientated cultures in the world,” he said. “It is a very suitable place as a test market for the S60 Polestar.”“The measurement of success for us is the 50 units and how quickly they sell, the car gets recognised, and the car gets credibility.
“We want to see Polestar progress much further than where they are now, so going beyond chapter one is determined by how this will sell.
“The ultimate aim for us is that the cars are well received, and we sell 50. If we can make this a regular running model in time, it would be perfect.
“The ingredients for it to be successful are already there. It’s not a case we’re trying to establish the market – it’s already strong, and the Polestar is the most thought-out performance car project Volvo has ever undertaken.”
While not disclosing which other models would get the Polestar workover, Mr Baath did reveal that “a number of different markets” could receive limited numbers of the S60 Polestar next year.
Mr Baath said he hoped Polestar’s relationship with Volvo evolved in much the same way that outside tuners and suppliers had collaborated with rival car companies.
“Our role in relation to Volvo I hope will be comparable to (BMW’s) M, (Mercedes-Benz’s) AMG, (Audi’s) Quattro and so forth,” he said.
“But I hope that comparison would stop there… because Polestar does not aim to be AMG to Mercedes. They make marvellous cars, but it is not the path we want to follow.
“Our philosophy is closer to Renaultsport I would say, even though we do not copy them. We see them building cars that are really, really great to drive.
“That sums up what we have been trying to achieve with the car.”
Working exclusively with Volvo vehicles throughout its 17-year history, Polestar has specialised in engine development software and technology for four years.
The tuner has competed in various European racing series starting with the Volvo 850 Super Tourers of 1996-97, moving on to the S40 (1998-2002), S60 S2000 (2003-06), C30 S2000 (2007-11), and this year’s S60 entered in the Swedish Touring Car Championship.
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