2020 Auto News Auto Sales Volvo

2020 Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered Review: Plug-In Hybrid Performance Designed For Fun

The Polestar brand has been all over the EV news cycle as of late, first for their carbon fiber bodied hybrid GT car, the Polestar 1, and most recently for their Polestar 2, which has arrived to give Tesla some serious competition. However, before beginning their new role as an EV manufacturer, Polestar was the tuning house of Volvo, known for creating fast Swedish station wagons and SUVs. Lucky for us, the dynamic duo has decided to give the XC60 crossover the electrified treatment, thus creating a hotter version of the well-known family hauler.

This week’s tester, the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered, comes equipped with the Swedish brands clever yet complicated 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine which is accompanied by a turbocharger as well as a supercharger. Add on to that a bit of Polestar magic by way of an electric motor and you get a crossover that produces 415 horsepower. However, there are potential troubles on the horizon, the first being its price tag, for over $70,000, it’ll need to be more than just quick to impress.

It is no secret that the standard Volvo XC60 is meant to appeal to the family-oriented market, resulting in inoffensive soft body lines that display elegance above all else. The XC60 Polestar takes a completely different approach while still retaining a bit of subtlety. The front grille is now finished in gloss black and sports the Polestar badge in the body matched color. The lower air intakes also receive the blacked-out treatment and while they are not the craziest bit of aerodynamic design we’ve seen, they are certainly sharper than the standard model. The result is a crossover that manages to look sporty without having to boast about its performance credentials.

The subtlety continues in the rear where the XC60 Polestar receives a new rear diffuser finished in gloss black flanked by two large exhaust pipes on each end of the rear bumper. To top it all off, there is a subtle roof spoiler that ends where the two vertically oriented LED taillights begin.

The biggest change however is the enormous wheels on all four corners. The two-toned 22-inch wheels come wrapped with Pirelli P-Zero tires for added grip. Their size is a result of function rather than form seeing as they need to clear the massive Akebono six-piston calipers and 14.6-inch brake discs. The multispoke design also has the added benefit of providing a clear view of the gold-painted brakes.

A Plug-In Hybrid Crossover That’s Turbocharged And Supercharged

Under  the hood lives the 2.0-liter twin-charged four-cylinder engine we mentioned earlier as well as the electric motor which helps it achieve its 415 horsepower output. Mated to the powerplant are an 8-speed automatic transmission and an all-wheel-drive system. The transition between full electric, hybrid, and normal driving is controlled by a drive mode selector in the center console. The sportiest of these modes is the “Polestar Engineered” mode which makes full use of all of the available power while accelerating and charges the battery under normal driving.

The added instantaneous torque from the electric motor is a welcomed addition in traffic scenarios and it serves to provide a decent initial shove while the automatic transmission and the internal combustion engine catch up. The 8-speed transmission certainly isn’t tuned for sporty driving and can be slow to react under hard acceleration. The heavily boosted engine also suffers from a bit of lag and requires a decent amount of revs in order to get properly moving. The electric engine however softens the impact of these flaws and provides an experience that feels like two-stage acceleration rather than one linear powerband. The result isn’t exactly a high-performance family-sized vehicle, but instead an agile daily driver.

The suspension and brakes are where the XC60 Polestar truly comes into its own. As mentioned earlier, the Akebono brakes are enormous, yet strangely they don’t behave unusually. While there may be a bit of squeak at lower speeds, they are easy to modulate via the confidence-inspiring brake pedal and are very easy to drive around town.

The star of the show however is the Öhlins manually adjustable suspension. We are not kidding, at the top of the front strut towers, you will find two knobs that will allow the driver to meticulously select the ride stiffness, going above and beyond what any preset driving mode can offer.

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