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2020 Volvo V60 T8 Review: The Polestar Engineered treatment has its advantages

Auto123 reviews the 2020 Volvo V60 T8 Polestar Engineered

The Volvo V60 is one of the very few wagons to survive on the market in North America. With the demise of the BMW 3 Series, only the V60, Audi A4 Allroad and Mercedes-Benz C-Class remain to compete in the luxury wagon sweepstakes. In 2020, Volvo lauches the V60 T8 Polestar, a plug-in hybrid version that promises serious performance.

Distinctive styling
We have to admit we have a soft spot for family sports cars – which seems to be a common affliction among automotive journalists. The Volvo V60 tugs at our heartstrings, what can we say. First of all, we like its unique and elegant styling sprinkled with a touch of aggression. The V60 leads with a sharp and rather square front snout topped by a long hood, and then comes a long roof that stops abruptly on an almost upright trunk. Much has been retained of the near-timeless styling of the old Volvo wagons of our childhood that inspired strength and security for the lucky families that owned them.

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Photo: Volvo

Inside, the same impression is conveyed by the V60's high-class interior, which inspires confidence and solidity. Everything seems to be in its place and the various functions are easy to find. Of course, the main screen takes a little time to familiarize yourself with, but after a few hours, you can honestly find all the useful functions very easily, even if we would have preferred buttons for certain functions to save time. The only actual button to be found is to adjust the audio volume, and strangely, it’s oversized compared to all the other commands in the car. Go figure!

The giant screen in the centre of the dashboard contains all the useful information you couild possibly want. The CarPlay application is well integrated, occupying one-third of the screen and leaving room for the other vehicle information. As a result, you'll be able to find your way around very quickly.

Photo: Volvo
Photo: Volvo

Our tester, a Polestar Engineered plug-in hybrid version of the V60, features a charging port on the front left side of the vehicle, and two small white Polestar emblems on the outside - one on the front and one on the back – serve subtle notice of its special status. (Meantime, the T8 designation no longer appears on 2020 editions). Large gold brake calipers surrounded by 19-inch wheels are slightly less subtle reminder this is a Polestar Engineered edition. Inside, you'll notice the gold-coloured seatbelts, front and rear.

As on all other models in the lineup, the seating is exceptional. Onboard comfort is worthy of a luxury car and the silence on board is worthy of a limousine. The comfort and ride quietness on board this wagon are those of a large sedan. This is one of modern Volvos’ most appealing features in fact: You feel like you're in an ultra-luxury car.

In terms of interior space, this elongated version offers an extremely deep trunk, no surprise there. You get the cargo space of an SUV while feeling like you're driving a compact car.

Photo: Volvo

However, when it comes to actual storage capacity inside the cabin, spaces are few and small in this Volvo. The centre console is ridiculously small, and the glove box is very average in size; fortunately, there are still the front door panels that are sufficiently accommodating. We suppose the good thing about the dearth of storage space is that it will discourage accumulating junk all over the place.

Under the hood
This Volvo delivers an impressive 415 hp and 494 lb-ft of torque  via a 2.0L turbocharged engine and an electric motor, all managed by an 8-speed automatic transmission. This dual unit, known as Volvo's "Twin Engine", ensures that the propulsion mode is powered by the electric battery.

Photo: D.Boshouwers

There are three main drive modes on this Volvo, including Power (all-wheel drive), Pure (100% electric) and Hybrid. While the Polestar Engineered V60 generally looks very similar to other V60s, the Pure mode is only available on this version - although most people will likely spend their time in standard hybrid mode, designed to deliver the best compromise between the Pure and Power modes.

In daily use, the modes relay one another according to changing situations without you having to do anything. It all happens in the hushed softness of a VIP lounge. When you need a good boost, you can feel the 400 hp coming at you at full gallop. And then the thing really moves, I can tell you that!

Photo: Volvo

And the battery?
According to Volvo, the battery feeding the electric motor delivers a range of between 40 and 50 km. During our winter test, with temperatures around freezing, our range was only 35 km on a full charge. The 10.4-kilowatt battery takes only a few hours to charge, even with a 110-volt outlet.

The range, or lack of it, is a real sticking point. On several occasions, we tested the 35-km range displayed by the onboard computer when setting out with a full charge. Those clicks melt like snow in the sun! Basically, after several of these tests, we came to the conclusion that for one kilometre travelled, it was two kilometres of range that was calculated by the onboard computer. Thus, a real-world 16-km drive in the city in "Pure" mode cost us the full 35 km of range.

The goal of having a plug-in hybrid vehicle is precisely to be able to cover short distances (i.e. the typical commute) without using a drop of gas. With a range like this car has, the Pure electric mode quickly runs out of steam.

Photo: Volvo

In addition to the three modes mentioned above, there's an Off Road mode for daredevils and a Constant AWD mode that's very effective in heavy snow. In the middle of a storm with 30 cm of snow on the ground, the car was superbly stable, impossible to fault in fact. When talking about Volvo, the first words that come to mind are safety, comfort and solidity. We can tell you that in the middle of the storm we felt really safe in this car. It was like being on a railroad track. The V60 remained totally impervious to what was happening outside!

In regards to on-board safety systems, they're all present, from automatic emergency braking to blind spot monitoring, lane departure warning, adaptive cruise control, etc. In short, everything you'd expect to find in this type of car, which can cost over $85,000 when heavily equipped.

Yes, $85,000...
Now, after you know just what this V60 T8 can do, the big question becomes, is this model really worth the cost?

Photo: Volvo

The positives to the Polestar Engineered models are the hybrid capability and the 400 hp with nearly 500 lb-ft of torque available from under the hood.

Are those two elements worth $85,000? No, absolutely not. Is the Volvo V60 a good choice? Yes absolutely. For $45,000 for the Momentum T5 version, I say yes right away. That V60 comes with an interesting level of options and all the essential safety systems are on board. In addition, you'll benefit from the superb all-wheel drive system that will give you complete satisfaction.

Finally, when you look at the average fuel consumption of 9.1L/100 km on the T8 Polestar Engineered - a hybrid, we remind you - the T5's 11.0 L/100 km seems quite reasonable given that that model’s 40 grand cheaper.

Photo: Volvo

We like

Comfort, equal to that of any luxury car
Robust driving dynamics
Power under the hood
The gigantic trunk

We like less

The price to pay for the hybrid system...
Lack of storage space in the cabin

The competition

Audi A4 Allroad
Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Photo: Volvo
Photo: Volvo
Photo: Volvo
Photo: D.Boshouwers