The Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered is unlike any performance SUVs

Volvo's doing the performance SUV in a different way

1w ago

You thought Volvo couldn't make fun cars? Well, the Swedes want you to think again and the reason is Polestar. Rings a bell? You might remember the Polestar 1 and 2,​ but the XC60 Polestar Engineered has (nearly) nothing to do with those. Polestar, which was once, and for a rather short period of time, the "AMG" from Volvo has now grown into a separate sub-brand that builds electric cars in China. Yet, Volvo still offers some of their cars with this performance package, and the XC60 is one of them. Let's do a quick recap.

So, Volvo bought this racing team to help them build performance-oriented cars. Fair enough so far. This went on for some years, but then everything stopped. Volvo made Polestar an independent entity to become an all-electric brand, but their first car the Polestar 1 is actually a plug-in hybrid high-performance coupé. Then comes the 100% electric Polestar 2 and things suddenly start to make more sense. This year, Volvo announced that all their cars would be fully electric by 2030. Now, how is Polestar relevant? And why are they still putting their name on the back of an XC60? Yes, it's all so confusing, but let's get back to the car we are actually supposed to review.

So, this is the Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered and it is a premium performance SUV, just like the Porsche Macan GTS, BMW X3 M40i, Mercedes-Benz GLC 43 AMG, or the Audi SQ5. It's quite an eclectic range of vehicles with the Audi being the least powerful with 342 PS, the BMW is the cheapest one at CHF 86'600.- (£ 68'146), the Macan GTS is the most expensive at CHF 97'400.- (£76'646), and the Mercedes-Benz is the most versatile as it also comes as a coupé. They all have their particularities, but at the end of the day, they are all pretty similar. Therefore, where does the Volvo stand? Well, surprisingly enough it's the most powerful and also the most fuel-efficient. How did Volvo manage that?

You thought Volvo couldn't make fun cars? Well, the Swedes want you to think again

Jonathan Yarden

Through electrification. The Volvo is the only car from this selection that is equipped with a 2.0 four-cylinder engine paired to an electric motor. The result is a total power output of 415 horsepower, but on the other hand, it weighs over 2.1 tons. Therefore, in order to make it a true performance SUV, Volvo had to be imaginative. Even though they didn't equip their sporty XC60 with the noblest engine, they fitted it with Ohlins dampers, forged alloy wheels, and Akebono brakes. And it makes a true difference! The transmission is again not the sportiest and is more appropriate for everyday use, but the dampers really help the XC60 to annihilate body roll. Yes, there is still a fair amount of understeer but this is totally normal for a car of this size and weight. Is it fun to drive? Not really. However, it's still surprisingly agile on twisty roads, and it's fast! The 0-100 km/h is achieved in only 5.4 seconds and the top speed is limited to...180 km/h, like all new Volvos. Therefore, the XC60's main argument against its competitors is truly its handling and the electric motor that allows the car to accelerate quickly and burn less fuel (3.3 l/100 km). But that's not it.

The XC60 is also and fantastically good-looking car. Recent Volvos all look really similar, but it's a good design and it really works on this mid-size SUV. Our car had this very cool optional Crystal White Pearl colour that matched really well with the black and gold (brake calipers) accents of this Polestar Engineered trim. On the inside, it's no surprise as it's nearly the same as in any Volvo. Again, not a bad thing as Volvo cabins are very roomy, have very good infotainment systems, audio and refined materials. The very dark interior of our car was sublimated by the gold seat belts that add a note of sportiness and color. It's a very nice place to sit in and the XC60 is just the perfect car for long trips. The seats are the same as in the R-Design and offer the perfect balance between comfort and support. It just mirrors the character of this car that is tangled between performance and coziness.

It's now time to determine if the XC60 is worth it. Priced at CHF 90'800.- (£75'584), the Volvo is an expensive one and that's mainly because of the technology. Plug-in hybrids are expensive to develop and it reflects on the sale price. But it really helps to bring the fuel bill down significantly, plus you can drive up to 40 km in full electric. Something the competition cannot do. But you don't need a Polestar Engineered to do that, just the normal T8. The sporty edition brings a firmer ride which, I believe, regular Volvo owners may not be looking for. Even though it's quite stiff, it still is a very comfortable car. It's clearly not as sporty as a Porsche Macan, but I find this performance SUV à la Volvo to be very successful. It offers everything you'd look in a Volvo with a tad of hotness, and it just works.

Check out also what we thought of the Volvo S60 Polestar!

I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to Volvo Switzerland for making this possible. Here is also a link to their Instagram.

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Comments (74)

  • " Is it fun to drive? Not really." Best line I have read today for sure. I'm still laughing. Thanks Jonathan!!

      9 days ago
  • Why is the word 'sport' in SUV? Who came up with that marketing nonsense?

      9 days ago
  • @tribe Volvo has done a sporty SUV?

      9 days ago
  • I would get this over it's competitors, but that's only because I don't care for the handling or speed of these vehicles anyways, only tech, usability and fuel consumption matter because they're SUVs and if I want something sporty as a daily I'd get an estate. Which I would get.

      8 days ago
  • I don't think any SUV can be called sexy.

      8 days ago