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Audi beat Volvo to the fast wagon punch by a year with its 1994 RS2 Avant; the 850 T-5R followed in 1995. Porsche was involved in the engineering of both, but only the 850 went on to inspire European motorsport success.

Available as both saloon and estate, the T-5R became the 850R in 1996. And after 1997, when the 850 was re-engineered and rechristened V70, so the V70R came along, with the 296bhp S60R following it in 2004. Ebbing sales saw Volvo drop the ‘R’ brand in 2007.

Steve Sutcliffe

Editor-at-large
I love the exhaust note of the V60 Polestar, it sounds deeply BTCC circa 1988

Having run Gothenburg’s entries in the Swedish and world touring car championships for the past two decades, Polestar Motorsport was subsequently announced as Volvo’s partner for a new line of performance parts, upgrades and fully re-engineered performance road cars in 2009.

There has already been an S60 Polestar, which was initially not destined for the UK will now join the V60 Polestar in making its entrance into the market as Volvo's performance vehicles. It’s what the series of bespoilered Volvo concepts you might have noticed at motor shows these past few years has been all about.

Not that Polestar Volvos are solely about spoilers. In the V60’s case, Polestar started with a 3.0-litre T6 R-Design model and then went to town as much as possible without needing to tear up the undemanding servicing and maintenance routine.

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The straight six engine gets a new twin-scroll turbocharger from Borg-Warner, a new intercooler, a new stainless steel active exhaust system and new ECU settings. The six-speed automatic transmission and Haldex electro-hydraulic four-wheel drive system have more aggressive control settings, too.

What results is 345bhp, 369lb ft and a launch control-governed 0-62mph claim of 5.0sec. Not quite the stuff of like-for-like Audi RSs or Alpina BMWs, but it’s probably gutsy enough for a level-headed Volvo. There has never been a more powerful production car from Gothenburg than this.

That was until the 2017 model was announced which is destined for the UK. The changes under the bonnet are huge, mainly the 3.0-litre engine has been replaced with a 2.0-litre unit which has been tweaked to produce 362bhp, which certainly puts it in the same power ball park as the Audi RS3, Ford Focus RS and the Porsche Cayman S.

A bigger overhaul has been carried out on the V60’s chassis, informed by the experience of running current S60s as racing cars since 2012 but optimised for the road. Polestar Motorsport added the stiffness and dynamic poise required for this V60 in several ways, starting with a carbonfibre strut brace between the two front suspension turrets.

Shorter suspension springs were then fitted, making for a ride height lowered by just 3mm over that of the standard V60 T6 R-Design. That small difference may not strike you as much, but the spring rates were increased by a whopping 80 per cent, with the stiffer pair on the rear axle, as tends to be the case in performance cars where the need for clean directional response gets the nod over outright ride comfort.

New Öhlins dampers were specified, but damping was toughened up elsewhere through the use of stiffer top mount and tie blade suspension bushings.The running chassis overhaul is completed by 371mm Brembo front brake discs with six-piston calipers and bespoke Polestar Motorsport 20-inch alloy wheels wrapped in Michelin Pilot Super Sport tyres.

Outwardly, Polestar’s modifications to the V60’s body are quite subtle – and entirely suitable for an effective ‘sleeper car’ mystique. The extended front lip spoiler reduces high-speed front axle lift, while the new roof spoiler and diffuser do the same for the rear. Small, blue Polestar badges also feature on its nose and rump.

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