Volvo is completing the conversion of its entire range to the plug-in hybrid. The S60 family sedan quite logically takes over the T8 engine already widely available. But it also adds a Polestar Engineered version, which claims a handful of additional horses and a sporty temperament.
The Volvo S60 is a testament to the ambitions of the Geely group, its Chinese owner, for the Swedish brand. On the one hand, because its launch coincides with the start-up of a brand new American factory, located in Ridgeville, South Carolina. But also because, in Europe, it is only available with rechargeable hybrid engines. In the press release, Volvo boasted that it no longer offered diesel on its family sedan, presenting this as a gesture for the environment. But we will not be fooled. Already because the greener side of a plug-in hybrid engine, and even a gasoline engine compared to a diesel remains to be demonstrated. Also and above all, this corresponds to an industrial problem: in the family segment, station wagons are the most successful in Europe, the only market where Diesel represents a truly significant share of sales. And the V60, a station wagon derivative of the S60 still produced in Sweden, had only a range made up of diesel when it was launched!
Everything changes compared to the old Volvo S60. This 4.76 m long sedan is the last in the range to take advantage of the SPA (Scalable Product Architecture) platform dedicated to models in the 60 and 90 ranges. But compared to the V60 station wagon launched a few months ago, almost nothing has changed . Because, traditionally S60 and V60 are intimately linked and are distinguished only by their rear part. What find elegant lines, rather discreet and perfectly balanced volumes.
The most spectacular innovation, finally, is the arrival of a sportier version called Polestar Engineered, precisely the one that we chose to try. It is distinguished by a color chart in neutral colors, details highlighted in shiny black, specific 19-inch rims (optional 20-inch) and golden brake calipers.
A dark atmosphere
Unsurprisingly, we find on board the very neat furniture, with sober and elegant lines, already seen in the V60 and XC60. A regret all the same: as outside, the dull colors are in order, with a uniformly black interior. The only touch of color is golden, and this time it brightens up the seat belts.
There remains the big black point, common to all Volvo: that of very perfect ergonomics. The responsiveness of the touch screen is not in question. Neither resistive nor capacitive, it identifies the position of the finger using a laser matrix, which allows it to be used with gloves. What is wrong is the organization of the menus and certain commands. Try to find, when making a slot, the command of the automatic parking aid, drowned out among a myriad of other icons! It's a safe bet that it will be faster to perform the maneuver by hand …
Like all models with the T8 plug-in hybrid engine, the Volvo S60 has all-wheel drive with no mechanical link between the two axles. The front axle is powered by a four-cylinder petrol engine, supercharged by a compressor and a turbo, which has a 34 kW alternator-starter directly mounted on the crankshaft. Power is transmitted to the front wheels via an eight-speed automatic transmission, shared with the thermal versions. On the rear axle, a synchronous axial flow motor operates.
Reviewed and corrected by Polestar, this hitch is not revolutionary compared to other T8s. Because the sporting division of Volvo mainly focused on management: the four-cylinder thus passes to 318 hp and 430 Nm (against 303 hp and 400 Nm on the S60 T8), while the power of the rear engine stagnates at 87 c. But this one benefits from a revised management.
The battery, located in the central tunnel, has a capacity of 11.6 kWh. What, according to the technical sheet, cover 48 km without burning a drop of gasoline. It can be recharged from the mains or from a Wallbox, up to a power of 7.2 kW.
Driving the Volvo S60 Polestar Engineered
It’s a surprise and a good surprise! Because we did not expect that the modest gains promised on the technical sheet translate into a real increase in vigor. In electric mode, the pedal mapping clearly more reactive than on the T8 gives the impression of a lively liveliness in the city. Day and night with PSA hybrids, which do everything not to lower the battery level too quickly. The downside: after 30 km, there is no more juice and the four-cylinder comes into play.
New Volvo S60 T8 Twin Engine Polestar Engineered Osmium Gray Metallic – Exterior
Also, this is the first time that this B4204T35 block has seduced us to this point by its length. We must take advantage of these last months when the Volvo cars are not yet restrained at 180 km / h! This S60 offers very interesting revivals on the highway, worthy of the competitors with six-cylinder petrol engine, even if the reactivity is less immediate. But here again, sportiness has a counterpart, that of high consumption. The Volvo T8s have never stood out for their sobriety in hybrid mode, nor is this S60, which is lower than the brand's SUVs. Battery empty, we found an average of 11 l / 100 km, a value that rises to 12 l / 100 km in the city, while we manage to limit ourselves to just under 9 l / 100 km on the highway.
Where Polestar has undoubtedly exaggerated in terms of sportiness is in the suspension. Because specific Ohlins shock absorbers are frankly uncomfortable on a daily basis. They sin by excess of firmness, faithfully translating the slightest imperfection of the bitumen, especially at low speed. Nevertheless, in dynamic driving, the balance appears healthy, and even pleasant. The mass of more than two tonnes remains sensitive, but the agility is honorable and the reactions predictable and progressive. Above all, it's almost new at Volvo, the front axle is not overwhelmed by exercise. We also praise the endurance of the braking (we appreciate less, in dynamic driving, the dosage of the pedal) and the electric boost, available long enough even in empty battery hybrid mode.
It's no surprise: this S60 Polestar Engineered has characteristics close to other Volvo T8s in terms of electric range and consumption. Not enough to make it a really sober model, therefore. But there is still a surprise, it is the dynamism of this version. Progress is noticeable and pleasure at the meeting, despite a very moderately altered technical sheet. Nevertheless, the standard S60 T8 seems to be a more homogeneous choice, with above all a much better comfort.