2017 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar first drive review: the 365-day sports cars Page 2

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A chassis and suspension set up for 365 days a year

It's just hard to get a performance car's suspension setup perfect. It's the Goldilocks story: either it's too firm for daily use or too floppy for track use.

The Swedes have clearly put time into these suspensions, because both the S60 and V60 Polestars are impressive both in their handling and ride quality. On the highway, the 245/35R20 Michelin Super Sport tires on Polestar alloy wheels tracks smooth and steady, even on grooved pavement.

On broken pavement, the suspension doesn't come crashing down as you'll find with some performance variants. Its tune errs, just barely, on the side of "this is livable and my significant other isn't going to complain about it."

All of this is thanks to the adjustable Polestar Öhlins shock absorbers, a front strut brace reinforced with carbon fiber, stiffer bushings and top mounts, and springs that are 80 percent stiffer than the S60/V60 T6 R-Design.

2017 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar

2017 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar

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On the track

It's unlikely the S60 or V60 Polestar is going to be your track car. But that didn't stop Volvo from strapping me into the driver's seat and letting me lap Arizona Motorsports Park in both models.

With the air temperature hovering near 100 degrees, the Polestar team aired down the tires a smidge as the tarmac was about to heat them even further.

Before I pulled out of the pits, Volvo provided instructions for the secret dance to put the transmission into Sport+ mode. While stationary, you pull the gear selector back and over into S mode, press it forward and hold it while pulling the steering-wheel mounted downshift paddle two times in a row. The only way to know you've accomplished this task is to keep your eye on the transmission indicator in the gauge cluster. The S for Sport Mode will blink twice. That's it. Blink, or look away, and you'll never know you've entered the super secret cheat code correctly.

Putting the transmission into Sport+ mode tells the transmission to keep the shift points at or around 4,000 rpm from second gear on, increases shift speed, and optimizes the transmission shift points for performance driving, including during braking and cornering,. It also opens the valves on the active exhaust.

With the transmission in Sport+, I turn off the stability control--which actually never fully goes off, but it loosens to the point where it'll only step in if it needs to save you and the car from a catastrophic event--and pull onto the hot track.

Barreling down the first straight with the braking zone quickly approaching as I crest 103 mph a thought occurs to me, perhaps a bit too late: how are these brakes going to handle the extreme heat? Thankfully, the Brembo 6-piston caliper setup with 14.6 inch (by 1.3-inch thick) ventilated, floating, and slotted discs up front with HP1000 brake pads prove to be more than up to the task of hauling the nearly 4,000 pound blue sled to cornering speeds. With proper cool down laps, the brakes never exhibited fade, smoking, or degradation throughout the few hours we were at the track.

Within two turns three things become immediately apparent.

The new S60 and V60 Polestars are much better balanced than before. Taking the weight off the front axles has made turn-in quicker, and the entire car feels more neutral. The all-wheel-drive system is set up with more rear-wheel bias--with the ability to shift up to 90 percent of power front to back depending on traction needs--and if you didn't know it was a front-wheel-drive-based car, you might think it's a rear-drive setup based on how balanced it is. To get these Polestars to understeer and push, you'll be hitting limits far exceeding anything you could safely do on the street, and only in the tightest of turns on the track.


 
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