Whatever you want to call them estates or “Family Trucksters,” station wagons have become somewhat of a forgotten step-child of the automotive world. From the first renditions of the Model-T with some walls tacked on, the concept of a comfortable people mover has gone through many different iterations over the years. Many of them loosely resembled a station wagon.
Fast forward through the decades. From cars that you manually crank to start, to those that spring to life at the push of a button, we now find ourselves here. To some, it’s a mundane world of bloated SUVs and sedans that all look alike. Volvo decided enough was enough. No more copycat designs. No more dumping massive design resources into SUVs. The time was ripe for reinventing an old family favorite, the Volvo station wagon. Behold, the 2020 Volvo V60 Polestar!
A Giraffe in Jackal Clothing
Wagons get a bad wrap. It’s mostly because of the negative connotation of being a grocery-getter, responsible-parent-mobile. Station wagons see about as much adult excitement as a G-rated film. Volvos first wagon wasn’t exactly a piece of automotive art. It wasn’t backed up with any enhanced performance either, to make up for the lack of sumptuous body curves either.
If you were to close your eyes and imagine a Volvo station wagon, the first one to come to mind would probably be the boxy ’80s 1980 240DL. That was a vehicle that looked like a kindergarten student drew a side profile of a car and the design department said “good enough.” Shaking that reputation is a chore of great magnitude. Volvo, with ambition and engineering, accomplished that task (and then some) with the 2020 V60 Polestar.
A Face Every Mother Loves
At first glance, the Volvo V60 Polestar is subtle yet stylish. It’s a bit like a supermodel that doesn’t need to wear a Gucci gown and ten pounds of makeup to look good. The distinctive square-Swede styling matured into a manicured mover with a sophisticated European flair. The V60 isn’t trying to look like any of the other European wagons on the market.
Instead of a gaping grille that looks as if it’s in a constant state of shock (we’re looking at you, BMW), the grille of the V60 appears to merely be an opening for functionality. This snazzy wagon comes decorated with a proportionate badge, unlike some other European marquees (nudge, Mercedes). Of course, the Volvo logo reminds you that you’ll become encapsulated in the highest level of safety and comfort imaginable as soon as you fasten your seatbelt.
Top of the Line Trim
The Polestar trim amps all aspects up a notch in other categories, but aesthetics isn’t one of them. By opting for the substantial upgrade, you’re doing so because you want better performance. You’re not doing it for the extra peel-n-stick livery that comes with many performance packages. You do get an added jewel in your crown in the form of a small “Polestar” logo in the grill, but that’s as flashy as it gets. If you study the V60 Polestar with a fine-tooth comb, you’ll see the Polestar specific brake calipers draped in matte gold color. That is, of course, if you can look beyond the magnificent 19″ wheel setup.
The V60 Polestar starts at $82,300. That’s almost double the $43,900 price of the basic V60 Momentum model. There are also R-Design ($53,900) and Inscription ($55,400) versions in between. However, the Polestar version shines. It comes standard with extra advanced safety features, keyless entry, a 12.3 inch instrument panel, a 360-degree camera, GPS navigation, and a premium sound system by Bowers and Wilkins. Oh, and it’s a plugin hybrid, obviously.
A Bold Concept and an Even Bolder Result
Under the hood of every V60 Polestar is a magnificent mashup of technology. Volvo didn’t want to bring another oversized, underwhelming vehicle to an already saturated market. Even the rudimentary base model punts underperformance. None of this is done without a brilliant chain reaction of concept-invention-rework, especially considering Volvo paired plug-in technology with their otherwise bulletproof gasoline propelled powerhouse.
Before shrugging the V60 off as another environmentally friendly vehicle, just for the sake of being trendy, be forewarned. It’s actually not impressively eco-friendly. Buzz words like “regenerative braking” and “battery range” are tethered to the V60 for informational purposes only, not as a selling strategy.
The Volvo V60 navigates streets predominantly powered by its 2.0 liter four-cylinder engine. Before you say, “Ick, four cylinders in a big heavy wagon?” just know it has not only two turbos but a subsequent supercharger as well. Tethered to the gasoline engine is an additional electric motor, making for an incredibly complex engine system. But wait, there’s more! The V60 has another trick up its sleeve in the power department — an electric motor devoted exclusively to the making the rear wheels spin.
The setup might sound quite complicated. For all intents and purposes, it is. However, it’s hard to argue with the seemingly effortless (and instant) 415 horsepower when the throttle is given a good press. The shapely wagon might give you the illusion of being a sleeper, but the Polestar badge takes it to a whole other level.
Included Polestar exclusive elements include an advanced suspension system by Ohlins, which transforms the V60 from another dog-hauling long-roofed Volvo to a car worthy of hill climbs. Suspension settings are altered by selecting from different drive modes, ranging from kitten to rabid barn cat. To stop that mad barn cat, upgraded Brembo brake kits are found on every Polestar trim level. They offer top-notch stopping capabilities and ever so cool looking gold brake calipers.
The Interior – Technology En Masse
It would be easier to list what the V60 doesn’t have in the technology department (a back seat USB port, for example) than to go into every detail of what it does. Wrapped inside the tidy package are buttons that give you whatever your mood requires. Is your butt cold? Activate the seat heater! Need a little extra pep to pass a cattle truck on a two-lane road? Activate the sportier set up! Need to conserve fuel? Activate the hybrid-mode!
Our One Main Complaint
To access the laundry list of options, a reasonably sized 12″ touch screen is nestled between the driver and the passenger. Powered by the Sensus Connect operating system, the infotainment screen does lag more than other high-end systems like the MBUX or iDrive systems found in competitors. Loading the system upon vehicle start-up can reach up to a full 30 seconds. In Polestar time, that’s an eternity. Aside from the long load time, the interface can seem quite daunting and distracting. Icons crowd the screen. Finding something as simple as adjusting the radio can take some time to get used to. In short, it takes some practice.
Everything else in the passenger compartment is dripping with elegance and comfort. As you slide into your seat, you’ll find buttery soft Nappa Leather adorned with contrasting stitch coloring. Dash and door panel trim contrasts the otherwise dark and almost cave-like cabin by adding a bright aluminum splash of color. The bow on top of the Polestar interior package is the inclusion of gold seatbelts. Although they are purely cosmetic, it’s a neat novelty to see every time you open the door. Those belts do, however, keep you as safe as if you were in your mother’s arms. Advanced lane departure technology and automatic emergency braking help keep the V60 Polestar from crashing in the first place.
The Wagon Round-Up
As far as wagons go, there aren’t many on the market that can bust the chops of the V60 Polestar. Performance-wise, it’s almost impossible to beat. Especially if you want to remain in the same price bracket. If you have that sort of cash to throw at a sporty wagon, you might lean towards an Audi A4 Allroad instead. Unfortunately, neither are going to offer you the cargo space or fuel-economy you might think you’d get with a wagon.
The V60 Polestars 22-mile electric range and disappointing 30 miles per gallon aren’t what you’d expect for hybrid technology. These numbers can easily be disregarded, though, when you experience that 415 horsepower. Life is far too short to drive a boring wagon, anyway! If so, you might as well drive a Prius (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)