Volvo's Polestar performance brand doesn't have the heritage of BMW M or Mercedes-AMG, but what it lacks in history it makes up for in style, performance and plenty of bright blue paint. It's also going to offend very few with the news it's looking to diesel and hybrid powertrains in an effort to boost that performance in the future.
Where BMW or Mercedes might shy away from loading its performance models with the latest eco tech, Volvo has nothing to lose--and everything to gain from a rethink of traditional performance car norms.
According to Autocar, future Polestar models are likely to be all-wheel drive, with highly-tuned four-cylinder Drive-E power units, like those Volvo is rolling out at the moment. In addition to the four-pot engines, Polestar could boost power by equipping the rear wheels with electric drive. Volvo already uses a similar setup on its V60 Plug-In Hybrid sold in Europe--and the gasoline and diesel Drive-E power units have all been designed with electric drive in mind as that is how Volvo eventually plans to compete with V-6 and V-8 rivals.
Polestar boss Hans Baath told Autocar that electric drive is "logical", because it fills in the low-down torque gap of using smaller engines as the basis of performance models. He also says using smaller engines for big power "is not a problem", because racing technology such as low-friction components and roller cams makes achieving high outputs much easier. Baath deems electrification "interesting" for its all-wheel-drive possibilities.
Volvo's first Polestar models, due this June, will be more conventional. The 2015 Volvo S60 and V60 Polestar feature a 3.0-liter, turbocharged inline-six producing 345 horsepower and 369 pounds-feet of torque. Drive is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed automatic transmission and Haldex all-wheel-drive system, delivering a 4.9-second 0-60 sprint in either model. A special body kit and interior accoutrements will differentiate each car from their more conventional siblings--while only 120 examples will reach U.S. customers.