THE 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. From the outside, it looks like a smart, styling SUV, as you would expect. But look closer. You will notice subtle hints that all is not as it seems.
Massive gold Brembo calipers sitting behind the 21-inch 5 Y-spoked black alloys capped with Pirelli P Zeros, might give you a clue. The Polestar badging on the grill and rear tailgate, and the upgrade to black highlights should just about give the game away.
This is no ordinary XC60. Sure it’s luxurious and well made. It offers generous cargo space, including 468-litres in the back, with extra storage under the floor panel. But the T8 moniker and the Polestar name means business. Serious performance business.
Like other modern Volvos, this Polestar-modified XC60 is propelled largely by a creamy-smooth, 2.0-litre, four cylinder engine. On its own, this petrol combustion unit is incredibly quiet. In fact, it’s so well insulated, barely any noise comes into the cabin.
The T8 does such a magnificent impression of a worked six-cylinder engine, and a good one at that, most drivers would never know that there are four pots propelling this beast.
Assisting the XC60 to pull with gusto in all driving situations is an elaborate induction system. A supercharger is fitted for low-speed performance, delivering a healthy hit of torque off the line.
As speed builds, and exhaust gases start exiting the cylinders in volumes, the turbocharger kicks in to provide even more boost. Throw direct fuel injection into the mix and this engine is good for 246kW and 430Nm on its own. But wait there’s more.
The petrol ponies are not the only thing stimulating the XC60 T8. The addition of the plug-in hybrid drive train has an electric motor providing an additional 65kW to the rear wheels. That ups the ante to 311kW and an astonishing 670Nm of torque.
Managed through an 8-speed automatic geartronic transmission, that’s enough to send the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered to 100kmh in as little as 5.2 seconds, and given that it weighs in at 2118kg, these numbers are impressive.
Top speed is limited to 230km/h, however higher speeds drop of when running solely on battery. So, if you’re on a mission to get somewhere quickly, make sure there is fuel in the tank.
The best fuel consumption we achieved was 5.0-litres/100km using a combination of electric and petrol. With about 40km in charge available to run fuel free, it is possible to get this as low as 2.2-litres/100km, according to Volvo.
The Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered is a very fuel efficient package and a diligent owner could take advantage of the battery range by charging the vehicle overnight, and again when you arrive at your place of business.
Unlike some other hybrid vehicles though, the XC60 T8’s power train is silky and seamless. There’s no jerking or hesitation as it transitions from petrol to electric power or vice versa.
Together, the battery and motor provide acceleration assistance and help recover energy when it’s time to slow things down again. The whole process is totally smooth. Handling and steering feel are fine. In this department the XC60 is neither poor nor commendable.
Ride quality with the 21-inch, Polestar-specific wheels is firm, though, fortunately, not too punishing. You certainly feel surface imperfections, though it won’t rattle your internal organs.
This Polestar model is also fitted with Ohlins dampers. These shock absorbers are adjustable, but not in the way you might expect. They are neither good nor bad, but you cannot make adjustments on the fly.
Unlike most European driver-selectable suspension systems, there are no simple switches inside the vehicle. Braking comes from a hefty set of six-piston Akebono calipers that wrap around cross-drilled 371mm rotors to give it impressive stopping power.
Despite being up for a constant slamming up and down a mountain road, brake pedal feel isn’t overly inspiring. Look inside though, and this is where you’ll find the appeal of the XC60.
In front of the driver is a 12.3-inch screen in place of analogue gauges, and another great feature is the head-up display for speed and navigation, allowing you to keep focused on the road ahead.
It’s a beautifully laid out cabin with superbly comfortable seats and a big focus on technology. Central to the tech is a 9.0-inch portrait-oriented infotainment screen, which features smartphone mirroring in the form of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.
That 9.0-inch infotainment screen not only looks impressive, but is easy to use. The home screen is divided into segments to make navigating each section easier.
Voice-control functionality works well, and is backed up by the ability to forward commands to your smartphone’s voice-recognition system.
Fitted as standard equipment is an awesome 19-speaker Bowers and Wilkins sound system. It has sumptuous amounts of bass and hits high frequencies with ear-piercing accuracy. It’s definitely one of the better sound systems we’ve come across.
While the XC60 range starts off from $62,990 (plus on-road costs), the XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered comes in at $99,990 (plus on-road costs). Its nearest rivals are the BMW X3 M40i, Mercedes-AMG GLC43 and the Audi SQ5.
It’s cheaper than the Merc and the BMW, and on par with the Audi, which means you’re spoiled for choice.
The 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered is available in Crystal White, Bright Silver, Osmium Grey and Onyx Black. It features an R-Design Nappa Leather interior, with Charcoal Mesh inserts and gold seat belts.
It comes with a 3-year warranty, with annual servicing estimated at about $600 per service.
Our test vehicle was provided by Volvo Cars Australia. To find out more about the 2020 Volvo XC60 T8 Polestar Engineered, contact your local Volvo dealer. Pictures courtesy of Mushroom Owl Photography.