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Volvo XC60 Polestar Engineered Review: hands-on

Polestar's 331Kw family SUV is electric.

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  • Average saving: $4,104
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Polestar's 331Kw family SUV is electric.

What you are looking at is the Polestar Engineered XC60, and in this crisp silver, with its large yellow brake callipers and 21-inch rims – it looks fairly stunning.

Polestar, for those that don’t know, used to be Volvo’s equivalent of AMG’s or BMW’s M division, tasked with taking safe, sensible vehicles and tuning them until they became whiplash machines.

Nowadays though, Polestar has a new objective – to create eco-friendly electric vehicles to compete with the likes of Elon Musk's Tesla.

The Polestar Engineered Volvo XC60 is the best of both old and new ambitions.

Price: 98,990*

What’s it like inside?

It’s seriously impressive.

Now, apart from the yellow seat belts, not much changes between a regular XC60 and the Polestar XC60.

It looks as though Volvo has let the designers at the vehicle before the engineers and product guys were allowed anywhere near it. They were then told what they had to work with and where they had to make everything fit.

The result is a few buttons, a large nine-inch vertical central screen to control almost everything, and a leather dash with brushed metal accents, including the speaker covers for the upgraded Bowers & Wilkins sound system. The system itself has no less than 15-speakers and given that the cabin is insulated so well, the Polestar XC60 delivers excellent sound quality.

You can access Android Auto and Apple CarPlay via the iPad-esque screen along with dual-zone air conditioning, heated seating and Bluetooth functionality along with countless more features.

Upfront, the seats are comfortable, electronically adjustable and as mentioned, heated – which is a welcome addition on these colder winter days. Behind the steering wheel is a 12.3-inch digital display that syncs up with the crisp head-up display projected on to the windshield.

Seats in the rear are comfortable too. If you’re checking the vehicle out in person, you might notice that there aren’t any air conditioning vents in the back of the centre console – where they are on almost every other vehicle.

But rear passengers do get air conditioning, which comes from higher up in the B-pillar, which is smart because it gives the rear passengers more control over cooling/heating instead of having the choice of air blasting their shins or their knees.

In terms of space, there is plenty of leg and shoulder room in the back as well as cupholders and a small storage bin in the fold-down armrest which complements the door bins. Headroom is impinged by the electric roof though, so taller passengers may find their heads bumping the roof from time to time.

What’s it like on the road?

It’s when you look at how the XC60 drives that you begin to really see Polestar's fingerprints, and they aren’t the kind you want to wipe off.

For an SUV, it feels rather agile and direct when turning. It also doesn’t mind cornering, with the stiffer set-up the team has given it reducing body roll.

As you would expect, this does come at a slight cost, with the ride being firmer than your traditional SUV. With that being said, it is by no means uncomfortable and I can’t see it being an issue around town.

The Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered offers up a 2.0-litre turbocharged and supercharged (exciting, I know) petrol engine that produces 246kW of power and 430Nm of torque. The cherry on top here is that it can work in tandem with an electric motor, which takes the total power tally to a sizzling 311kW of power and 670Nm of torque.

In this hybrid powertrain, the front axle is powered by the traditional internal combustion engine, while the electric motor powers the rear, and when both are firing (and ... zapping?), the Polestar Engineered XC60 will get to 100kph from a standing start in just 5.2 seconds. For reference, that is quicker than the Jaguar F-Type we reviewed earlier in the year.

Fuel economy is the added benefit here with the electric motor having a range of around 45 kilometres – enough for a dash to school and an average trip to work. The brochure states an average consumption of just 2.2 litres per 100kms. Keep in mind though that this is assuming a full charge every time the vehicle is turned on.

When running without a full charge, we saw numbers around the mid-eight litres. This isn’t a bad number for a family SUV, but keep it plugged in.

How safe is the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered?

It is a Volvo, need I say more?

Along with having airbags virtually everywhere, the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered comes with a list of safety technology as long as any I can remember. This seriously comprehensive safety suite gives you the following:

  • Pedestrian, vehicle, large animals and cyclist detection
  • Intersection collision mitigation and brake support
  • Steering support
  • Adaptive cruise control (ACC) including pilot assist
  • Driver alert
  • Lane-keeping aid
  • Adjustable speed limiter function
  • Oncoming lane mitigation
  • Blind-spot information (BLIS) with cross-traffic alert (CTA) and rear collision warning
  • Run-off road mitigation
  • Hill-start assist
  • Hill-descent control
  • Park-assist pilot with park assist front and rear
  • 360° camera
  • Emergency brake assist (EBA)
  • Emergency brake light (EBL)
  • Frontal airbags,
  • Side impact protection system (SIPS) with airbags in front seats
  • Inflatable curtains and whiplash protection system;
  • Belt reminder all seats
  • ISOFIX outer position rear seat
  • Intelligent driver information system (IDIS)
  • Road-sign information

How practical is it?

Open the electric tailgate and you will have access to 468 litres of storage space, which is 42 litres less than the Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and about 92 litres less than BMW’s entrant, the X3 M40i and Audi’s SQ5.

There are also two ISOFIX mounting points on the two outboard rear seats. Thought has been given to the smaller passengers too, with a nifty fold-out “booster” that gives child seats some extra visibility in the back.

Servicing costs and warranty

Volvo offers up a five-year warranty, which is better than the majority of the German competitors, with the exception of Mercedes. The five-year warranty was only recently announced, and if you are reading this having just purchased a Volvo recently, you will be happy to know it has been back-dated to purchases from 1 April 2020.

There is a pre-paid 3-year servicing plan with intervals every 12 months or every 15,000kms, which comes to $1,795.00 (inc GST).

The Verdict

If you want a sports SUV, the Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered vehicle is a strong contender. It retains all the practicality of the standard XC60 while adding some serious sports credentials.

Some may be left disappointed by the lack of a distinct tough engine note that its competitors have, but when you think about it, it also doesn’t have the same footprint and fuel bill.

If your trip to work and back is less than 45kms too, you’re laughing.

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