Jay Leno drives the Volvo C30 Polestar concept

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Most people are unlikely to associate Volvo with performance, but the Swedish automaker has offered several notable sporty variants of its regular lineup in the past under the R performance range.

The S60 R, for example, was introduced in 2003 and boasted a 300-horsepower turbocharged engine mated to a 6-speed manual transmission and Haldex all-wheel-drive system.

Today, Volvo leaves the performance tuning of its vehicles up to Polestar, the same Swedish firm responsible for the automaker's racing efforts and more recently its dealer-installed ECU tuning software.

As television personality and avid car collector Jay Leno recently found out in his online series, "Jay Leno’s Garage," Polestar has significant plans for future high-performance models from Volvo, and as a preview of what’s to come one need only look at 2010’s Volvo C30 Polestar road car concept.

Leno was given a chance to drive the C30 Polestar as well interview Polestar chief Hans Baath. As you may have guessed, after driving a hot hatch with 451 hp under the hood, a trick all-wheel-drive system and a curb weight of around 3,000 pounds, he comes away quite impressed.

 
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