2020 Volvo V60 Polestar Engineered review: A potent plug-in performer

Volvo has made some major changes to the V60 estate range for model year 2020. The mid-tier T6 with its all-wheel drive layout is gone and in its place is the V60 T8 Polestar Engineered, a plug-in hybrid. in which it promises some important benefits.

While its higher price tag may not appeal to everyone, the latest iteration of the V60 Polestar dabbles in the same way as the old model, with some serious upgrades in all places that matter, not to mention an electrified twist.

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I’ll admit my penchant for station wagons to every human being within earshot, so it’s no surprise I’m impressed with the V60 Polestar’s looks. It’s much sleeker than its previous iteration, streamlining the silhouette and incorporating some aggression. The complete lack of chrome on the outside goes well with my tester’s $ 645 gunmetal metallic paint job. Aside from the charging port on the front fender, this car stands out from other V60s with white Polestar emblems front and rear, as well as golden brake calipers and unique 19-inch wheels.

Part of the reason I like wagons is that they offer more cargo space than sedans without forcing people to adopt the higher center of gravity that comes with a crossover. While the V60 Polestar’s 23.2 cubic feet of cargo space surpasses the S60 sedan, it’s not the most efficient use of space on the planet – my 2016 VW Golf Sportwagen, for example, is about the same size but has 30.4 cubic feet of capacity. Style always has a compromise.

You might think there is a fair amount of space in the cargo area, but it’s actually mediocre at best.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

The illusion of space continues inside, where there is a surprisingly small amount of storage space. The door panels have a hard time fitting anything larger than a regular plastic water bottle, and while the center console it seems nice and deep, raising the armrest reveals just enough space for a phone and a handful of charging cables. Things aren’t much better in the second row, where the doorways are even smaller.

Otherwise, the inside is a nice place to hang. The front seats offer just the right amount of lateral support and the combination of leather and fabric looks and feels great. The second row has head and leg room for a while, but the transmission tunnel leaves a terribly high lump in the middle which makes things a little awkward when three people need to get back there. Visibility is ace, thanks to the tall windows on all sides.

Sparkling dynamics

The T8 in the name of the V60 Polestar hints at the powertrain, which is one of Volvo’s most complicated solutions. Under the hood is a turbocharged 2.0-liter is The supercharged I4 that pairs with an electric motor and eight-speed automatic transmission, plus a second electric motor that powers the rear axle. All that good stuff combines to generate some serious power – 415 horsepower and 494 foot-pounds of torque, to be exact.

Depending on which vehicle mode I’m in, the V60 Polestar pretty much looks like two different cars. Most people will spend their time in the standard hybrid mode, which focuses on using the plug-in powertrain for efficiency. When fishing for the green, the V60 Polestar doesn’t quite look like a sports car. The under-body lithium-ion battery alone provides an EPA-rated electric driving range of 22 miles, and I like that it doesn’t require proximity to a plug. There’s a charge mode that will rely on gas engine and regenerative braking to add energy on the go, even if it fills up faster in the city – on a long stretch of highway, it took about 100 miles to recharge a battery download.

The front row of the V60 is a nice place to spend a few hours on a long highway grind.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Once it’s full, I can activate Hold mode to hold charge until it can be used to its fullest, as electricity is pretty inefficient at highway speeds. On a trip from Detroit to Chicago and back, I relied on electric propulsion alone in urban driving. While the threshold for I4 activation is low, there was still enough leeway in the throttle to pick up speed. In low-speed driving, the transition between EV and ICE is surprisingly smooth, but it can get a little jittery and uncomfortable if you need to bring haste into the equation at short notice.

In my experience, 22 miles of battery life is optimistic but achievable, especially with the powertrain set to maximize regenerative braking. The EPA says the V60 will hit 30 miles per gallon combined with the gas engine alone, but I’ve seen figures closer to 28 without electric assistance. Part of this probably stems from the fact that much of my time on the highway is spent charging the battery for later use, which detracts some of the efficiency.

The engine stays quiet most of the time in hybrid mode, thanks in part to a whole host of sound-absorbing material in the engine compartment, which also helps hide the fact that Volvo’s four-pot sounds more than agricultural.

Those looking for a little extra excitement can switch to Polestar Engineered mode. The gauge cluster ditches the power gauge in favor of a good old-fashioned speedometer, and every inch of the powertrain shifts to provide forward motion on demand. It’s fun on the back roads, providing torque for days and rattling sharp gear changes, but it almost made me feel guilty for not using electricity for greener purposes.

As for ride quality, it’s pretty stiff, which is expected given its performance-oriented provenance, but it could be worse if Volvo didn’t stick to the 19-inch wheels on this car. Left at the stock setting, the manually adjustable Öhlins shock absorbers remain comfortable enough for long journeys, but there is still quite a bit of movement translated into the cabin. As this is now the only way to get an all-wheel drive V60, I recommend playing around with the settings (after remembering the default location) to find your sweet spot.

My only real complaint about the driving experience comes from the shift lever. Each shift requires you to shift into neutral, so when shifting from reverse to drive (or vice versa), you need to press the lever twice, which other automakers don’t ask drivers to do. It’s a weird little quirk that isn’t a big deal on its own, but it will take some getting used to in multicar families.

Cute details abound in the V60, but like other Volvo vehicles, those unique touches take some getting used to.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

Technology is successful, but it’s not perfect

The V60 Polestar sports the same infotainment system as every other new Volvo on the market. The dead center on the dashboard is a 9-inch vertical touchscreen running the automaker’s Sensus Connect infotainment system, which offers perks like Spotify integration, a 4G LTE Wi-Fi hotspot, Apple CarPlay, and Android Auto. It’s a powerful setup, with loads of connected functions easily accessible by swiping left from the main screen. Combined with a 12-inch display in the instrument cluster, it’s not difficult to check the information you need at a glance.

However, that strain is also one of Sensus’ downfalls. Swiping left or right from the tiled home screen introduces me to a whole bunch of features, not all laid out simply. Swipe right and you get loads of adjustable vehicle settings, and swiping left presents most of the connected car’s features, but its information-packed layout is intimidating and will take some getting used to, especially when used. at any speed over a dead center.

Technology has other problems as well. Despite receiving a faster processor in 2019, my tester still takes about 30 seconds after starting the car to fully start the infotainment, adding a noticeable delay to any input before that time, including climate control adjustments. . Thankfully, the car will save the seat and wheel heating settings so you don’t get frozen for 30 seconds every morning, but slow starting is still frustrating. There are two USB ports in the center console, which is nice, but the rear seat occupants are stuck with nothing more than a 12-volt port.

On the safety front, the V60 Polestar is as well equipped as any other new Volvo. Automatic emergency braking, blind spot monitoring and lane departure warning are all standard, as is Pilot Assist, which combines Adaptive Cruise Control and Lane Keeping Assist to keep the vehicle in place. in its lane on the highway. This handy system is one of my favorites, it offers smooth inputs that keep me from feeling too exhausted from the five hour drive from Detroit to Chicago, and even in the closest setting, the car still maintains a safe distance from those ahead in the in the event that stronger braking is required. That said, I don’t use it much, because the V60 Polestar is such a fun car to drive that it’s hard to let the robots do even a small part of the work.

Sensus Connect’s many menus may be dense at first, but practice makes perfect.

Andrew Krok / Roadshow

How would I specify it

The Volvo V60 2020 Polestar isn’t cheap, with a starting price of $ 67,300 and a tested price of $ 68,490 after a $ 645 metallic paint upgrade and the mandatory destination fee of $ 995. Everything is standard, so the only real price decision it’s if you want to stick with the black paint, which is the only free color on offer – personally, I’d go with the metallic white dress. It’s nice to see expensive vehicles that don’t burden shoppers with so many options that they need to be classified under the Dewey Decimal System.

Down to brass pins

Trying to find competitive premium wagons isn’t easy. The BMW 3 Series wagon no longer exists in the US and the Audi A4 Allroad is more concerned with converting crossover buyers with its higher ride height and body trim. The Buick Regal TourX would be a contender if it weren’t a little cheaper, both on the window sticker and how it feels.

To this end, the 2020 Volvo V60 Polestar lives in a class of its own, especially when the plug-in hybrid powertrain is taken into account. Thankfully, it exists in a kind of quantum superposition, simultaneously delivering a surprising amount of efficiency along with driving dynamics that make me happy that Polestar is still lending its prowess to Volvo cars. If you can afford it, the V60 T8 Polestar Engineered will not disappoint you.

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