Volvo V60 Polestar

  • 0-60mph in 5.6 seconds, top speed 155mph
  • Three-litre petrol delivers 329bhp and 480Nm of pull
  • Expect to pay around £37k, due to go on sale in September 

Somehow, a bonkers Volvo doesn't seem quite right. A Volvo is a sensible thing - especially an estate - and it's certainly not something you align with speed, outrageousness and impetuosity. A Volvo should be a calming, sedate thing. If you consider Volvo's target market - mid-forty-somethings with a nice house, cat, dog and kids called Toby and Jemima  - then you can forget the petrolheads. That's for Audi RS and BMW M-Sport crowd.

So the V60 T6 engine with the Polestar upgrade is something of a surprise. It is, to coin a cliché, a wolf in sheep's clothing.

It doesn't look like it's going to knock the skin off a rice pudding. Yep, it's got 18-inch alloys and some exterior frippery to kind of give the game away, but it's hardly muscle-bound. It's an all-wheel-drive estate for goodness' sake.

However, Polestar - the tuning company that produces Volvo's Touring Cars - has bumped up the already quite monstrous 300bhp output on the T6 to 329bhp and the maximum torque of 440Nm to 480Nm, and that turns the car from what was already a beast into, well, something even more beastly.

We have driven the C30 Polestar and it was something of a riot compared to your everyday C30 and it's pretty much the same with the V60 Polestar, which is expected to be ready for order in the first week of September.

It still looks pretty sedate though, both from the outside and the inside. Once in the driver's seat, you still don't feel like you are in anything that spectacular. The R-Design interior, although classy and nicely put together, doesn't tell you this is a car with potential for performance thuggery.

That all changes when you find yourself on a clear bit of road and a chance to give the accelerator a squeeze.

The sound of the 3.0-litre petrol engine is quite lovely. Raspy, urgent and relentless, it'll take you from cruise to a vicious blur within a blink of an eye. Suddenly, the scenery is rushing by and all thanks to an engine that'll keeps on pulling and pulling until you choose to lift off. The automatic six-speed geartronic is equally satisfying when in full flow, offering seamless, sensibly-placed upchanges. If you stick with it for no more than a few seconds you'll be driving at illegal speeds, so a throttle-lift is entirely necessary if you don't fancy three penalty points and a £60 fine. For the record, 0-60mph takes just 5.9 seconds and top speed is set at 155mph.

At cruising speeds the T6 engine is surprisingly refined and its feels silky smooth when you are pottering around town. It does feel like its chomping on the bit though, which is hardly surprising when you consider there's 329bhp under the bonnet.

So, what's the downside?

Well, around the corners it's not that involving. The all-wheel-drive set-up restricts driving pleasure on the twisty bits. It's got enough grip to keep you on the road and the fairly solid suspension means bodyroll is minimal but you don't get the driving excitement that you will enjoy on other cars in this category that have the benefit of beefed-up performance. Steering feel is pretty much non-existent and turn-in feels tardy but the brakes are rock solid and dependable.

Of course you get the practicality of an estate, but not so much when you look at the fuel economy and emissions. Average fuel consumption is 28.5mpg - not very Volvo - and CO2 will leave the exhaust pipe at a rate of 237g/km.

The car we drove wasn't that cheap either. The T6 AWD in R-Design trim with geartronic costs £36,285 but we had a load of extra kit on it including adaptive cruise control, lane departure warning, leather upholstery, digital TV and lots of other bits and pieces that pushed the total cost to £43,070. The Polestar performance upgrade will cost you around £650 extra. That's near on £45k for a Volvo estate, which let's face it, doesn't sound like a great deal.

The V60 Polestar is a bit of a contradiction: it's sensible, yet illogical. Depends how you like your Volvos really.

Also consider:

BMW 535d Touring
Yep, it's a diesel, but you wouldn't turn your nose up to a car that handles beautifully and delivers excellent refinment.

Audi A6 Avant

Classy, well built with a decent engine range. You take your pick.

Peugeot 508 SW GT

It's not as quick, but it looks good and it's nicely put together.