$50-100K: 6th - Volvo S60 Polestar

It’s fitting that the model most closely aligned with Volvo’s V8 Supercar campaign, the S60 Polestar, is the Swedish marque’s most potent flagship performance car to date.

And 2014 brings improvements to cure the last-gen version’s shortcomings of lead-tipped dynamics, undercooked brakes, recalcitrant auto character and a general lack of feel-good edginess.

The revised S60 Polestar retains that manic 257kW/500Nm 3.0-litre turbo six but adds adaptive Ohlins dampers, stiffer spring rates, revamped (Polestar-tuned) auto with – hallelujah – paddle-shifters, revised Haldex tuning and one of the most serious sets of (370mm six-pot) Brembo stoppers this side of motorsport’s pitwall.

A more aggro appearance, launch control and more bolstered seating are welcome additions, as is the $10K price drop that sneaks the Smurf-blue Swede under BFYB’s $100K price cap by a mere fifty bucks.

Add a long list of premium equipment and it looks a bargain in the company of similarly sized, equally potent Euros.

Here, though, its relatively big-budget ticket is the Volvo’s anchor. It’d want to be fast. Really fast.

Down the strip, the Polestar marches off the line with gusto, nailing 5.39sec to 100km/h and a mid-13 (13.58sec) at the 400m mark.

It’s quick enough to shake the cardigan stigma but well short of Volvo’s 4.9sec claim, though something of a middling average for BFYB’s eight-strong $50K-100K field.

Clearly the immediate threat is that two of the category’s other AWD competitors are 0.4sec quicker to the tonne.

Nor is the 400m trap speed (a fairly lowly 167.95km/h) or in-gear 80-120km/h acceleration (a solid if unspectacular 3.37sec) anything boastworthy. On song, the S60 certainly feels swift, but perhaps more than it actually is.

Those massive brakes, however, pull the scoring Volvo’s way, the S60’s impressive 36.97m stop from 100km/h the second shortest of the group.

Around the circuit, by the seat of the pants, the new S60 certainly feels tauter, firmer and sharper than old model.

That said, in the company of some of the friskiest chassis on the market, the revised Polestar tweaks can’t quite shake the slightly ponderous character ingrained in the base car’s DNA.

The auto is better, but not great. Grip is impressive, though dynamics still err towards predictability rather than heady driver engagement.

Safe rather than thrilling transit, then, and the judges scored it down accordingly in the crucial ‘subjective’, some 20 percent of the overall score.

It’s lap-time of 1:04.40 wasn’t shabby at all, around two seconds quicker than both the Chrysler or the Lexus. Against the class-leading Golf R, though, the Volvo was 2.5 seconds – and daylight – behind the leading pace.

A workmanlike effort, then, for the priciest car of the entire field. – CD

Results
$50-100K placing – 6th
Overall placing – 20th
Judges' ranking –19th

0-100km/h – 5.39sec (5th)
0-400m – 13.58sec @ 167.95km/h (5th)
Lap Time – 151.10sec ( 7th)
Price – $99,950 (21st)

Specs
Engine: 2953cc inline-6, DOHC, 24v, turbo
Power: 257kW @ 5700rpm
Torque: 500Nm @ 3000-4750rpm
Weight: 1770kg
Gearbox: 6-speed auto
Suspension: struts, anti-roll bar (f); multi-links, anti-roll bar (r)
Brakes: 370mm ventilated floating discs, 6-piston calipers (f); 302mm ventilated discs, single-piston calipers (r)
Wheels: 19 x 8.0-inch (f/r)
Tyres: 235/40 R19 Bridgestone Potenza (f/r)

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