Smooth operator

The V60 T5 Polestar glides with almost no resistance from point to point.
The V60 T5 Polestar glides with almost no resistance from point to point. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Volvo's V60 T5 Polestar delivers thrills without spills

Think of Polestar as Volvo's version of BMW's M or Mercedes-Benz's AMG models, but without the hardened ride, loud noises and fire-breathing antics the two German tuning houses are known for.

A Polestar-optimised Volvo has plenty of grunt, but it is more in the form of low-end torque than obscene power attainable at sky-high revs.

A car like this is more relevant in a place like Singapore, where the tarmac is limited - both in terms of length and speed restrictions.

The V60 T5 Polestar is one such car. The wagon moves like an airhockey puck, gliding with almost no resistance from point to point.

The slightest squeeze of the throttle sends the car hurtling and, before you know it, the speedometer has swivelled past the three-digit mark.

  • SPECS / VOLVO V60 T5 POLESTAR

  • Price: $166,200 with COE

    Engine: 1,969cc 16-valve inline-4 turbocharged

    Power: 253bhp at 5,500rpm

    Torque: 400Nm at 2,000-3,500rpm

    Transmission: Eight-speed automatic with paddle shift

    0-100kmh: 6.3 seconds

    Top speed: 230kmh

    Fuel consumption: 6.4 litres/100km

    Agent: Wearnes Automotive

With Polestar tuning, the V60 T5 gets 253bhp and 400Nm of shove, up from the "ordinary" T5's 245bhp and 350Nm. The peak power is impressive, but not over the top. But the torque value is absolutely stonking.

Sent to the front wheels via an eight-speed autobox which remains buttery most of the time, the 400Nm makes absolute magic.

Cars fall back quickly, lamp posts fly by in a blur and your confidence swells with the rising tachometer.

The car feels so responsive that you hardly worry about not being able to merge - even if you are just off to a start and the vehicle in the next lane is already in a full gallop.

The V60's gearbox does a fabulous job of matching cog with engine speed to suit each occasion. It betrays the slightest of shift shock only when you are suddenly heavy-footed.

By any measure, it is a smooth, calm and efficient mechanism.

Same goes for the chassis, which is brilliantly balanced. The car is effortlessly easy to drive, regardless of speed or trajectory.

The suspension, like in most modern Volvos, proffers a crisp and light response to undulations. Unlike in cars where you feel the springs and shocks at work, the V60's system stays in the background.

There is hardly any torque steer at the wheel, despite the car having 400Nm of tyre-twisting force.

Because of this, you are able to enjoy the drive and the car without being acutely aware of the mechanics.

The subdued sounds of combustion contribute to this. You do not hear the engine until about 3,000rpm and, even then, it is a soft purring note.

You get a hint of ferocity only as you approach 5,000rpm, which is not often because there is simply no reason to rev that high.

But once in a while, you do it anyway, just to hear the engine. It is a very nice-sounding power plant too. Pity you do not get to hear it at lower speeds.

For that, you might have to wait for a more fiery beast - the 367bhp/470Nm V60 Polestar. This all-wheel-drive wagon, which leaps from zero to hundred in 4.8 seconds, will be more akin to the M and AMG models from BMW and Mercedes-Benz respectively.

But will it be as light and breezy as the V60 Polestar at hand? Or will it be a bronco you have to wrestle with? Either way, I cannot wait.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 16, 2016, with the headline 'Smooth operator'. Print Edition | Subscribe